Sandeep Patil: I Respect Dhoni’s Call to Skip Vijay Hazare Trophy
File photo of MS Dhoni.
File photo of MS Dhoni.(Photo: AP)

Sandeep Patil: I Respect Dhoni’s Call to Skip Vijay Hazare Trophy

The importance of Vijay Hazare trophy or for that matter any domestic tournament does change from time to time. Four years back we had to made changes in domestic tournaments because preparation for international cricket was important. I was one of the technical committee members at that time. Imagine, we had to cancel Duleep Trophy to facilitate NKP Salve trophy.

I am sure all those of my age or generation would have felt a shock because these are the tournaments which were looked as the stepping stones to make it to the Indian team. The international calendar was not busy in the ’70’s or ’80’s as compared to nowadays. Each and every current player of that era wanted to be part of every BCCI tournament. The selectors never had any problem in asking the senior players to play these tournaments.

Also Read : Dhoni Says “No” to Hazare Q/F Despite Prasad’s Public Announcement

MS Dhoni decided to skip the Vijay Hazare Trophy this year.
MS Dhoni decided to skip the Vijay Hazare Trophy this year.
(Photo: AP)

However, 2010 onwards the scenario of domestic cricket totally changed, but it’s not right to blame players only. The BCCI along with its fixtures and technical committee tried experimenting to bring competitiveness in domestic circuit. The elite and plate groups were also formed in the Ranji trophy. I would like to make one thing very clear. Whether you cut down tournaments or add tournaments, if a player has potential to make it big, his talent will never go unnoticed.

The latest controversy in domestic circuit is current player’s participation in Vijay Hazare tournament.

After a poor series in England, the Indian team picked itself up. They performed well in the Asia cup and won the Test series against West Indies.

On one side the Indian team is busy playing an ODI series against West Indies and on the other side those who are knocking at the doors are trying to perform and catch the eyes of the selectors in the Vijay Hazare trophy. We have seen some excellent performances but the issue here is what policy the Indian selectors have set up for those Indian players who are almost certainties for the 2019 World Cup.

MS Dhoni scored 79 runs in two ODI innings in England.
MS Dhoni scored 79 runs in two ODI innings in England.
(Photo: AP)

Being an ex-selector, we have also faced similar problems in convincing senior players to participate in domestic tournaments. The difference here is whether you are still trying to convince yourself with the particular player or you have some doubts about him making to 2019 World cup team. This is where a controversy has started with Mahendra Singh Dhoni making himself unavailable to play for his state team Jharkhand.

Like how every player thinks differently, various teams have different plans as well.

If Dhoni has made himself unavailable giving a reason that he does not want to break the combination which has worked well for Jharkhand in this Vijay Hazare Trophy, I respect his decision.

On the other hand, the Indian captain during the Asia cup Rohit Sharma along with Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw and Shardul Thakur have made themselves available for selection.

I am very proud to say that this is the difference between Mumbai and rest of the country. Barring one or two incidents, the Mumbai players have always taken pride in being a part of Mumbai cricket.

Rohit Sharma turned up for Mumbai in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Rohit Sharma turned up for Mumbai in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
(Photo: BCCI)

I think Dhoni’s decision to skip the Vijay Hazare Trophy has puzzled selectors and put them in an embarrassing situation. The biggest issue here is ‘who will bell the cat’. With due respect to our selection committee, I think too many adverse stories have come out regarding communication between selection committee members and players. To simplify things, can’t you draw a yardstick like making every member pass the “Yo Yo test” before a series? It is unfortunate that in the kind of situation the BCCI is caught in, nobody is able to take a firm stand.

That’s why communication is not required only between selectors and players, but there should be communication between BCCI, selectors and players. Media also plays a very important role, I also strongly feel that they should be well informed about injury issues, resting players, monitoring work load and so on.

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that MS Dhoni is going to be the most important factor in the 2019 World Cup – whether he avoids playing in Vijay Hazare trophy or he decides to practice where he feels comfortable. After all I have known him for 14 long years.

Let us respect his decision because he is one person who will drop himself before the selectors seal his fate. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that he keeps himself fit and focuses on the 2019 World Cup.

(The author is a former India cricketer who played 29 Tests and 45 ODIs for India. After his retirement, Sandeep Patil served as Chief Selector of BCCI’s Selection Committee and also as the Director of NCA (National Cricket Academy.)

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