Calcutta: Thankfully, Team India captain Rahul Dravid’s injury isn’t serious, but there would have been a crisis had it actually been so.
All because chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar and his colleagues — Venkatapathi Raju, Bhupinder Singh, Sanjay Jagdale and Ranjib Biswal — didn’t appoint a No.2 for the forthcoming tour of Bangladesh.
The ODI specialists leave for Dhaka on Monday, while the Test stalwarts are expected to land in Chittagong on May 15.
“It’s not unusual and I don’t see a problem,” had been Vengsarkar’s response when asked to explain why such a precedent had been set during the April 20 meeting in Mumbai.
He’d added: “The captain and cricket manager (Ravi Shastri) can decide on the vice-captain if there’s need for one.”
Quite bizarre, but even if this idea didn’t exactly come from the selectors themselves, nobody in the quintet spoke against setting such a precedent.
In fact, in the past, the selectors have gone to the extent of appointing the No.2 for engagements at home. In recent times, this started in the Sourav Ganguly-John Wright era.
| Yuvraj Singh
“My understanding is that Rahul will travel with the team on Monday morning... If we need to review any decision, there’s time between now and then... At this stage we haven’t talked about naming a vice-captain who could stand in for Rahul,” Vengsarkar told The Telegraph on Saturday evening.
Logically, Yuvraj Singh should have been the No.2, for the ODIs at least. After all, he’d been stand-in vice-captain after Virender Sehwag’s injury in the closing stages of last year’s tour of Pakistan.
However, in the lead-up to the last selection meeting, Yuvraj was asked to show cause for — believe it or not — publicly backing Sachin Tendulkar. Even if the Board didn’t ‘guide’ the selectors, they probably realised the mandarins wouldn’t be too pleased if they made him the No.2.
“Nobody suggested anything... But elevating one of the not-so-senior players would have led to awkward moments once the seniors (Sachin, Anil Kumble, Sourav and V.V.S. Laxman) went to Bangladesh for the Test series,” maintained one of the selectors.
It’s not very convincing.
All Vengsarkar and Co. had to do was name different vice-captains. When there’s no bar on separate teams, why would anybody have reservations over the No.2 being different'
If anything, by not naming a vice-captain for the Test series, even though Sachin would be there, the selectors obliged the Board which wanted to ‘fix’ him (and, by the way, Sourav).
Sachin, it may be recalled, was made the No.2 after yet another poor tour of South Africa. That was in mid-January, before the home series versus the West Indies. He was retained till the World Cup.
Till he lost form totally during the ODIs in South Africa, Sehwag had been the vice-captain in both forms. After the ODIs there, however, Laxman got a promotion during the Tests. Six weeks later, it was Sachin’s turn to become the No.2.
Usually, a musical chairs scenario is common to the captaincy, particularly in the subcontinent. Vengsarkar and his colleagues have chosen to depart from the established script.
Is it healthy'
Vice-captain for the ODIs in SA: Virender Sehwag
Vice-captain for the Tests in SA: V.V.S.Laxman
Vice-captain for the ODIs vs the WI: Sachin Tendulkar
Vice-captain for the ODIs vs SL: Sachin
Vice-captain in the World Cup: Sachin
Vice-captain for the ODIs in Bangladesh: Nobody
Vice-captain for the Tests in Bangladesh: Nobody