Monday, January 31, 2011

World Cup 2011 - The Ignored XI

Squad selection is always one of the most debated points preceding a World Cup, usually boiling down to defending the selection of overrated cricketer X, or wrongfully omitted cricketer Y. The latter is more interesting. Hence here is my ‘Ignored XI’, the selection of players who should consider themselves unlucky not to be taking part.

1. Imran Nazir
Capable of doing freakish things with the bat, it seems like he has been completely ignored for some years. The first of my openers.

2. Fawad Alam
An in-form Pakistani batsman who has been consistent and has good temperament under pressure
Enough said © Associated Press
3. Irfan Pathan
The ‘Genuine Indian Allrounder’ search was thought to have been finally complete somewhere in the early 00’s. Yes, Irfan lost his way with his form, but that was when the management should have taken initiative, given him some time to rediscover himself, and come back stronger (a la Zaheer and Ganguly). Not to be. 

4. Rahul Dravid
Maybe I was the only one who dreamt that Dravid would make a comeback and boost the technique and temperament of the middle order. After being discarded some time ago for utterly ridiculous reasons, they will regret that when it comes down to the crunch, and a cool head needs to get them home.
We'll take pretty 20's over fighting 70's thanks © Getty Images
5. Mohmmad Yousuf
If you forget the politics just for one moment (as hard as that is), he is their most technically correct and experienced batsman. On paper, this was a truly daft decision. Leaving him out is Pakistan’s loss, and the ‘Ignored XI’s’ gain.

6. Grant Elliott
Given New Zealand’s lack of depth, and how many bits-and-pieces cricketers they are taking to India, this is a weird omission. He has an ODI hundred to his name batting in the middle order, and a match winning knock in the 2009 Champions Trophy. Handy with the ball too. “He was poor in Bangladesh” they say, find me a Black Cap who wasn’t.

7. Albie Morkel
Maybe not so useful with the ball lately, but definitely would be picked on his batting ability. Particularly after proving to be a useful performer in the IPL (given that the cup will take place in India, this is a factor, probably the only time it will be).

8. Peter Siddle
After being one of the very few Australians to come out of the Ashes with his reputation intact, this is a strange omission. At the very least he should have made the XV on backbone alone.

9. Nathan Bracken
Not so long ago, he was regarded as the number one ODI bowler in the world. To be constantly overlooked for the test team was baffling, but not unexpected given Australia loves to segregate in this fashion (Langer, Katich, Bevan). But given that their ODI bowling is fairly depleted, surely an experienced and economical bowler is on the top of the wish list?

10. Sreesanth
Granted, he is a show pony and can leak runs like nobody’s business. But when he does get it right (and lately he has been), he is a proven performer who bowls with pace and penetration, something that almost every Indian bowler in the squad lacks. If Munaf Patel is a bigger threat, you must be joking.
A circus with talent © Associated Press
11. Chris Tremlett
 ‘The Terminator’ has become a favourite of mine. Apparently having the Australians hopping about with good pace and bounce is not enough to make the squad. That too the English one of which only Anderson is a given. From stature alone he’d have the opposition quaking in their boots.

Looking at that squad, my wicket keeper would have to be Dravid, not exactly ideal. But that aside, I think that’s a strong line-up that would challenge any of the other participating teams.

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