In the Sunday edition of The Times of India, Sunil Gavaskar wrote how Mayank Agarwal may need to keep dishing out the big hundreds if he eventually wants to break into the Indian team.
In his column, the former India captain wrote: “Mayank Agarwal has had a fabulous season in all three formats of the game but still is not in the team. This has happened to many players in the past where it’s been impossible to dislodge the established ones in the team.”
He further added, “It’s simply the accident of birth and the player has to keep dishing out the big hundreds over and over again to not just knock on the selectors door but to break it down.”
But it his towards the end of his column that Gavaskar made his most pertinent comment, “Agarwal’s progress has been tremendous from the hit and miss player he was a couple of years ago.”
But a report in The Indian Express has shed new light on the mystery of why Agarwal didn’t make the cut. For starters, his performances in the Vijay Hazare knockout didn’t count. In the final, the Karnataka batsman had scored 90 to take his tally in the tournament to 723 runs – almost double that of the next best batsman.
It is learnt that BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary had called for a selection committee meeting on February 20 at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai. In the notice issued to the national selectors and team management, which has been accessed by The Indian Express, it says, “A meeting of the senior selection committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will be held on Tuesday, 20th February. 2018 at 11 am IST… at BCCI HQ, Cricket Centre.”
The report further adds that the “BCCI had ensured the team management that they’d keep the squad under wraps and only announce it once the tour of South Africa was over.”
That may not be the full story as selectors video conference all the time and it wouldn’t have been very difficult for them to change the team if they so desired. And while it may not mean much to the selectors and the BCCI, it may represent an opportunity that will never come Agarwal’s way again.
Agarwal’s 2141 runs across formats this season must be rewarded and even though chief selector MSK Prasad said he had a word with the 27-year-old, sometimes words are not enough.
“No player should be confused about where he stands. Our committee speaks to every player – even those who are to selected and try to give them a fair picture. Accordingly, I spoke to Mayank and told him that with his brilliant performances in domestic cricket, he has now definitely got himself in the mix (national team reckoning). I told him that he is now in the queue,” Prasad told PTI.
“We have followed a pattern in our selection process. Each and every national contender is in the queue and we don’t believe that anyone can jump the queue. Mayank is a wonderful kid and he completely understood what I explained to him. He told me ‘Sir, you are spot on and ‘I am not in a hurry at all’,” Prasad added.
The series would have also been a good chance to see Mayank in the international arena. India’s next big tour is against England and given the squad’s opening trouble, it might have given the selectors another option to play with.
However, it seems highly unlikely that he will get the nod now. Still, Agarwal can take this as a challenge and if he has an IPL season that is as brilliant as his domestic run, then the selectors might be left with no option but to pick him.