The selectors have missed a glorious opportunity to groom the young Prithvi Shaw in the long English summer which includes the World Test championship final and the five Tests against England.
Despite his inconsistency in Test cricket — the gifted Shaw is only 21 — he still averages 42.37 in Tests. Away from home, he showed flashes of brilliance against New Zealand and got just one Test, the day/night game in Adelaide, to display his wares.
While Tests and T20 cricket are two different formats altogether, Shaw’s form in the recently held but truncated IPL suggested his mind and body were in harmony.
Six fours in an over
Representing Delhi Capitals, the opener sent all six legal deliveries from the Kolkata Knight Riders paceman Shivam Mavi for boundaries.
He was balanced, his head was still, his feet moved and he found the gaps. Qualities that would serve him well in Test cricket too. There was no slogging. Only crisp striking of the ball.
India has four openers in the squad — Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal and K.L. Rahul (subject to fitness).
Shaw could have been included in Rahul’s place as a future investment. While he remains an influential white-ball cricketer, it remains unclear if Rahul has overcome his difficulties with the incoming delivery in red-ball cricket.
Worse, Shaw does not even find a place among the four stand-byes who will travel to England along with a jumbo 20-member squad, keeping in mind the COVID situation and the need for additional players.
Swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar, too, is not among 24. The decision is baffling since Bhuvneshwar’s bowling is made for English conditions.
He moves the ball both ways — his wrist position is exemplary — and bowls an effective off-stump line.
While Bhuvneshwar is a genuine swing bowler, he can also seam the ball. And after some outstanding work with former Indian team fitness chief Shankar Basu, he upped his pace by a couple of yards.
If you don’t play Bhuvneshwar in England, where would you play him? He could have easily come in for Axar Patel, who is a luxury in the Old Blighty with Ravindra Jadeja in the team.
Otherwise, the squad is on predictable lines.