Well Well Well! That's one well each for the three Tamil Nadu players picked for the NZ tour's test squad.
I do understand that the world is not what it used to be and that people have lost their money and minds , but this is incredulous. Hail stones in Chennai last year would possibly the closest on the bizarreness meter. Mr N Srinivasan and Mr Krishnamachari Srikkanth, with their piousness firmly stamped on their foreheads, have gone on to tread a path no man has dared to and ,with great respect for the future generations , never will.
8 players from Bombay was the norm a few decades back and 6 from Karnataka was a given in the 90s. Then came the bad boy of Indian cricket. Dada would take none of this regional bias nonsense. He insisted that he needed 11 players who best represented the country, not 3 players who best represented each selector in the panel. I might have my own favorites and prejudices,, he decreed, but you shall not have any. To his credit, he delivered. Period.
But then one constant through all the 76 years of Indian cricket was the shabby treatment meted out to players from a few particular states. It was as though at the first selection meeting there was an 'un'lucky draw and the names of these states were drawn. To name a few of these states: West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Having spent a considerable part of my ,still, early life in Chennai , I would take up Tamil Nadu to illustrate my point, and in order to not strain my memory too much I shall quote three names S Sharath, Diwakar Vasu and Reuben Paul of the top of my head.All these three may consider themselves pretty unlucky and the first one might be thinking he played in the wrong side of 2000 A.D.
While it is often stated that Sharath was plain unlucky to belong to an era coincinded with that of the Fab Four, it is a point worth wondering that another team mate of his, barely as talented as him got a break (that he failed to latch on it in the true spirit of most Tamil Nadu cricketers is another issue). It certainly would not have been asking for too much to name him at least as a back up batsman, but then he was repeatedly overlooked for players of lesser calibre. To his credit, he continued to pile up the runs and to the collective heartburn of cricket fans in the state he would repeatedly be overlooked.
At a time when decent fast bowlers were at a premium and left armers were an absolute rarity , unlike now, Diwakar Vasu presented a good option. That he would sometimes bowl left arm spin should have added to his chances. But then while many from across the nation were given a trial , he was not even in the fray. Add his reasonable batting skills into the mix and it becomes even more appalling why he never was given a break.
What Dhoni was to the Indian team when he made his debut, Reuben Paul was to Tamil Nadu during his career. An extremely aggressive batsman, he would set an innings ablaze with his six hitting skills and was a very reliable keeper. Considering that there was a stage when Indian keepers did anything but keep their places , he must have been a contender at some stage. But then the selection policy was so strange that while a good keeper who couldn't bat would be dropped for being an incompetent batsman ,another average keeper who could contribute a bit with the bat was given the boot for not keeping well enough. Considering that the Indian first class scene at that point wasn't quite spoilt with such riches , a fair trial to Reuben might have been the way to go.
The common thread running through the careers of these three talented cricketers was the blind eye that the national selectors displayed towards them.
Fast forward to the present. Three Tamil Nadu players in the same squad is something unheard of. My memory serves up times when there were two at the maximum, and those too in seasons when Tamil Nadu and its players had done very well in the Ranji season. That none of these three will feature in the first eleven is a fact, but then if ever there was an affirmative action policy in Indian cricket selection, this is it.