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|November 24, 1999||
Wadekar slams Azhar's exclusion
Faisal Shariff in Bombay
Ajit Wadekar, the former captain, coach and chairman of the selection committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, has slammed the selectors for excluding Mohammad Azharuddin from the team to tour Australia.
Wadekar said Azhar's exclusion was a mistake in the first place, and when Ajay Jadeja was injured the selectors should have rectified that mistake immediately by recalling him.
"Azhar is an experienced batsman. His presence in the middle order would have provided much-needed solidity to the side. He has performed very well over the years and with a record like that you cannot shove him off. He is still the fittest in the side. To equate him with [Jacob] Martin and [Hrishikesh] Kanitkar is a joke," he said.
Members of the BCCI or the selectors, Wadekar said, should have called Azhar and briefed him on the situation. "He has another two years of good cricket left in him," he felt.
He said it was unwise to proceed on a tough tour like Australia with just three frontline batsmen. He insisted that at least five are necessary. The law of averages will always catch up and at the most only two or three will click at a time, he pointed out.
Reacting to his successor Chandrakant Borde's statement emphasising youth, Wadekar said the argument would hold only if the youth in question was an equal or better. "You cannot just pick a player and say the emphasis is on youth."
Wadekar was also upset that no left-arm spinner had been chosen for the tour. He pointed out that even the great B S Chandrashekhar had struggled in Australia. Chandra certainly had more variety than Anil Kumble, yet batsmen figured him out soon enough, he recalled.
He added that he was surprised to see V V S Laxman, a solid middle-order bat, included as the third opener for the series though he has never opened even for his home side Hyderabad in domestic cricket. He agreed that Laxman had opened on several occasions for the country and met with some success, yet for a tour like Australia Wadekar said he would have opted for Bombay's Wasim Jaffer, who is a technically correct and solid batsman.
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