India’s cupboard of bowlers is now officially bare

India's recent team selections have been a lot like India's recent budget speeches. Much was expected, much was possible, a new roadmap could have been put in place (as business channels would have put it), but you got the feeling that like Pranab Mukherjee, Krishnamachari Srikkanth was saying good-bye too. This was a hand-over selection, one characterised by leaving big decision making for someone else. It happens in public life all the time though, doesn't it?

But sometimes not taking a stance can be harmful. Teams, like economies, cannot plod along at a barely acceptable rate of growth. If India want to be number one again (and I am assuming that that objective isn't gathering dust somewhere) then you need to take bold steps. Part of that is making playing for India aspirational not something that you just turn up after a break and find waiting for you.

That is why, for all of Ishant Sharma's innate ability, he had to prove that he is ready to play; he had to do the hard yards, run through a Ranji Trophy team and then force the selectors to look at him. He hasn't played a game for months, has had surgery and as everyone knows you don't prove your match-fitness by turning up for a couple of practice games. Worse still, the selectors had to be convinced that he earned a place even at full fitness. His last year produced 21 wickets from 11 games at an average of 68 in largely helpful conditions. In terms of experience, with 45 Tests, he is now only next to Kapil Dev, Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath and has played more Tests than some of India's greats. The message going out to a young man who desperately short of fulfilling his undoubted promise is that the team is just waiting for him to be fit and that they can't really do without him. Ishant himself would have far better served fighting his way back. It's a poor selection.

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