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BCCI, team and selectors not in sync over replacement opener for England tour | Cricket News – Times of India

July 7, 2021

NEW DELHI: With the Indian team management waiting for a replacement opener to be flown to England following Shubman Gill‘s injury, it has emerged that there has been breakdown in communication between the team management, the Indian cricket board (BCCI) and the Chetan Sharma-led selection committee.
The board, it is understood, is seeking clarity over the team management’s plans since the squad still has 23 players in England. The team management has formally asked for a cover for Gill to be sent to England. The selectors and the board are not sure why the team management is insisting on having more players to be flown over when KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal are already with the team.
Bengal opener Abhimanyu Easwaran is also with the team as a reserve opener.
However, indications are that the team management would prefer either Prithvi Shaw or Devdutt Padikkal if not both.

The team management is apparently unsure of Easwaran’s ability to bat in challenging English conditions and he has looked scrappy in the practice sessions. Rahul is being looked at more as a middle-order option should Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane struggle to get runs.
“The team management has to be clear about its vision. The selectors have always heeded to the team management’s demands when it came to composition of the squad. The team was picked in presence of captain Virat Kohli. The management needed to be clear about its plan when it came to how they wanted to use the players who were picked. Rahul was picked as an opener. If they had change of plans, they should have communicated it clearly,” a BCCI official told TOI.
“Easwaran has been with the team since the home series against England in Feb-March. The team management needs to clarify why they aren’t confident about using Easwaran. Only then a decision can be taken on whether a replacement needs to be sent,” the official said.
“There are four openers still available in England and it was only possible because of the pandemic. Indian teams in the past didn’t have this luxury earlier. They had to make do with 15 players on long tours. This is where the selectors and the team management need to be on the same page and be clear about their plans. Picking 24 players for each series has made the selectors’ job much easier. If they are not sure about 24 players they pick, then it needs to be sorted out soon,” the official added.
What has compounded the team management’s problems is Hanuma Vihari‘s reluctance to open the batting. “There’s no doubt that Vihari will be ready to whatever is asked of him to do in a crisis. But he is much happier batting in the middle order,” a source said.
The team management and chief selector Chetan Sharma have not been in sync since Sharma assumed his position in January. There are apprehensions about Sharma’s personal proximity to certain players because of his role as a coach in various academies. There are reports of lack of communication between the team management and Sharma.
Interestingly, BCCI has sent two selectors for the series in Sri Lanka in July but has cited travel restrictions for not sending any selector for the entire tour. Sharma will not be watching any of India’s matches in Sri Lanka and England. Sharma didn’t insist on traveling to England because he didn’t want to disturb the team’s preparations before the World Test Championship final against New Zealand last month.

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