Ambati Rayudu might have been on the plane ride to the West Indies. Instead he has been looking for a way to make amends after the fiasco over the ICC Cricket World Cup selection. Even if his angst was justified, does it merit an entry back into the sport on his whim?
There is little doubt that Ambati Rayudu is talented. There is, also, even less doubt about his tenacity. Even if the criticism against him has persisted about his lack of consistency and underachieving when provided an opportunity, the wicketkeeper-batsman could have well had a few more chances if only he had not been quite as brash.
There were issues over selection matters. MSK Prasad struggled to justify some of the players’ inclusion, particularly that of Vijay Shankar, who was roped in as no.4 in India’s batting line for the limited overs World Cup, over the possible selection of Rayudu. The thirty-three year old was fueled with angst, taking to social media to vent openly about the chief selector’s comments about Shankar being a three dimensional player.
Since that public fiasco, one would have assumed it was water under the bridge and the matter closed for all practical purposes with Ambati Rayudu having announced his retirement from cricket. Maybe it was MSK Prasad’s feeble response to the media, claiming to have enjoyed Rayudu’s joke/jibe at him, that encouraged Rayudu to think again.
With Rayudu having had time to cool off and a change of heart, he has now decided to put himself back in contention again, asking to be selected in the letter written to the Hyderabad Cricket Association.
The only problem? Should a player who has openly vilified his non-selection and aired his grouse in a clear case of sarcasm and disrespect be allowed to step back in without consequences and particularly at a time when the focus will be on the next World Cup when fresher legs and younger minds would top the agenda?
Even if there is room for mentorship at any level of the game on the way up to team India, it hardly justifies blocking one spot on the team, even in a domestic cricket team, for a player who may or may not feature for team India in the long run.
Cricketers are well within their rights to feel aggrieved. Not all of the selection choices nor the explanations that followed were convincing. There were at least a couple of consternations about the make up of the Indian squad for the premier tournament in England.
But Rayudu’s heated reactions and subsequent retirement point to a problem, one that could end in a man- management issue. With Ravi Shastri having narrowed escape being axed as the coach – narrowly since there was no one strong enough to stand up to scrutinize the merits and demerits of the current captain-coach relationship, it would seem the last thing the team management on tour would want is another temper problem if the player is indeed picked on tour but continues to underperform as Rayudu did in the lead up to the ICC Cricket World Cup selection in April this year.
Does this send a wrong signal to other younger, potentially impressionable as well as impetuous cricketers who think they can be irreverent and brazen, particularly when it comes to donning national colours? Absolutely. Should Rayudu be made an example of? Not necessarily. But should there be some commiserate programmes in place to ensure incidents like this do not become the show pony in a side circus? Absolutely.
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