Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of the national selection committee -- himself a former Test star and head of a coaching academy -- put the cat among the pigeons when, shortly after taking charge of the selection process, he responded to a question on whether the best possible team had been picked to tour South Africa with the words: 'There is no talent, no bench strength, in Indian cricket.'
It is perhaps the most damning indictment of what we call the 'system' -- a domestic competition comprising 26 teams, and close to 400 players, has in the estimation of the head of the national selectors produced a handful of players ready, able and willing to give the team the fresh legs, the young blood, the new direction it very evidently requires.
Was Vengsarkar saying it like it is? Is his assessment entirely true? Or was there a touch of poetic license, a hint of exaggeration born of frustration, in his words?
In sum, is the Indian cricketing cupboard barer than Mother Hubbard's?
Part of the answer is contained in rediff.com's new series -- Mission Tomorrow -- where we look at the most promising talent in the country today.
In conceiving this series, we intend to focus on talent PLUS potential -- not necessarily the same thing, as those who have watched 'talented' players come onto the national stage and be found out in the heat of international competition will know.
We intend to look at players who have the cricketing skill-sets required for the highest level. Coupled with that, they should also possess the grit, the courage and, importantly, the mindset to survive the initial trial by fire and dig down deep for the long haul.
Put simply, this series hopes to introduce you to those who, we think, will be the face of Indian cricket in three, four, five years time.
Please mail us your thoughts, your suggestions.