The curious case of India's World Cup exclusions
Written By: Jeet Vachharajani
Picture Courtesy: ESPNCricInfo
The Two notable names missing from India's World Cup squad that was announced on January 6 were Jemimah Rodrigues and Shikha Pandey. A BCCI source confirmed to PTI that the two (Jemimah and Shikha) have been dropped on account of their form in the ODI format.
When we try to make sense of what this BCCI source said when asked about the exclusions of Jemimah Rodrigues and Shikha Pandey, nothing adds up.
Now, let us see on what basis where the two players judged. India played a total of 11 ODIs in the year 2021, 5 vs. South Africa – 3 vs. England, and 3 vs. Australia. Out of these 11 ODIs, Jemimah played only 5 ODIs & Shikha played only 3. This massively cuts down the sample size to gauge their form.
The treatment of Jemimah has been one of the most unsatisfying ones going around as a common emotion amongst all the cricket fans. 17-years old Shafali Verma struggled in 2021, but the management has been backing her irrespectively. Why? Because she has the ability to clear the ropes & Jemimah doesn’t?
Jemimah did struggle badly in the 5 ODIs that she played in 2021, but should that be used as a basis for judgment of her current form? In 2019, she had a decent run & the figures were pretty much the same as Shafali’s in 2021.
I am not a big fan of selecting a player in ODIs on the basis of what they have done in T20 or other format tournaments. But, when Women’s ODIs are scarce, to begin with, what choice are you left with in order to set some tournament as a basis for selection?
That’s when one needs to look at what Jemimah did in The Hundred & WBBL which have been tournaments that have taken place after the last ODI she played. The only argument I have got against Jemimah is that she should have played in the Senior Women’s One Day Challenger Trophy. But, we don’t know why she did not play a part, so it’s hard to conclude or criticize.
There are players you pick based on stats & there are players for whom you ignore the stats. If a player has played a lot & does not have good stats, you don't pick them. But, when a young player has bad numbers in a small sample size, you ignore it & pick them on skillsets and the talent, that is clearly visible to the naked eye.
That is how you instill faith in youngsters & give them the confidence to build a career. That's how you groom a player & in turn, grow the game. It can't be about the data every time. Shafali has bad numbers too, but she has still been picked. The same methodology should’ve been followed in Jemimah’s case.
Now, let’s have a look at the most baffling case of Shikha Pandey. Let’s face it, the pace attack looks extremely short on experience and Shikha was an easy solution to balance it out.
Like Jemimah, Shikha also did not play all the games. In fact, she only played 3 out of the 11 ODIs. She also played 3 games in the Senior Women’s One Day Challenger Trophy and returned with an impressive economy.
It’s a mega event & you cannot go in with only 1 experienced pacer in your side when someone with an incredible record and experience is available. Shikha had a stellar 2019 in ODIs and has a plethora of records to her name.
If bad form was actually the reason, then what justifies the exclusion of Punam Raut? Punam’s three of the best years in ODIs have all been very recent.
Punam Raut's top 3 years in ODIs
* India had no ODIs in 2020
I may or may not be in favor of her selection, but I am just questioning the very logic of the selectors.