Wall Sir, Please Ring IshBall
Rahul Dravid with India's batting & fielding coaches (AP)
A few months ago, a famous (of his time) and controversial Indian cricketer said: "We don't do selection in Indian cricket, we pick cricketers to reject them".
"Exactly," shouted my inner voice after seeing names in the current Indian Test squad.
Let me throw a few names you won't see for a long time in Indian colours after this series (or even after the Vizag Test). Sarfaraz Khan. Rajat Patidar. Saurabh Kumar. KS Bharat.
Yup, KS, as well. But why, though?
One could advocate Bharat's behalf, saying he was never given a long enough rope. Initially, he got a go in the BGT and WTC but got dropped during the WI tour before returning during the South Africa series (when replaced Kishan).
Although, in the current circumstances, is KS the best bet for India in Tests?
Bzzzzt. The answer is no. A straight no!
I have nothing against Bharat, but he's not good enough as a batter or a wicketkeeper. Let out as a combo.
Ishan, oh, Ishan... Where are you?
Kishan scored a 34-ball 52* vs WI at Port of Spain (x.com)
Ishan Kishan suddenly became a curious case after the conclusion of the World Cup 2023. Despite scoring runs against Australia, he was excluded from the playing XI for the last two games. And then, he toured Africa to sit out during the T20I leg.
He was excluded from the Test squad during the Proteas tour, so was his name missing from the team sheet for the subsequent series - T20Is against Afghanistan.
When asked from India's head coach about Ishan Kishan's case, Rahul Dravid said he'd have to prove himself by playing in the Ranji Trophy.
A 25-year-old, who was good enough to be a part of India's best 15 men during the pinnacle of pinnacle tournaments - the World Cup, would need to reprove his mettle.
Sure. But, shouldn't the yardstick be the same for everyone?
Oh, you. Don't try comparing your mere Ishan to Virat Kohlis, Rohit Sharmas or KL Rahuls.
But what about recent numbers of Bharat, Sanju Samson or Jitesh Sharma?
Ishan Kishan may have been bettered by Kagiso Rabada and Nandre Burger in South Africa, and James Anderson may have bossed all over him. However, Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum would indeed have scheduled an extra 30-minute zoom call for IshBall.
He may have spilt a catch here or there or played casual shots to get out. But on the days Ishan would have had his day, he would tonk Tom Hartley over cow-corner, made sure Rehan Ahmed only bowl short-balls and tried to pull a Rishab Pant-esque reverse scoop off Jimmy.
And, if nothing else, Rohit Sharma would never have thought of sending his keeper-batter after all-rounders. He might have experimented with IshBall in at Number 5 to counter the left-arm tweak of BazBall.
Like the scenarios mentioned above, Ishan's inclusion and Bharat's exclusion may or may not happen. But the head coach should drop his headmaster's stick and put his arm around Ishan's shoulder and ring IshBall for a face off with BazBall.
(Alas, the headline when selectors pick the squad for remaining Tests would read like: Still, no signs of Ishan Kishan; KS Gets Another Go!)