One of the great moans of the summer, not just uttered by me, but by a lot of Indian fans as well, was how Ojha continuously managed to fly under the radar of the selectors. By now he has brought this art to perfection, spectacularly bowling his county side Surrey CCC back to Division One by taking 24 wickets at 12.96 in the four must-win Championship matches for which he was signed when Surrey's promotion looked in danger (please scroll down for the match list), but I dare doubt once more that the gospel has reached Indian shores.
|Pragyan Ojha (r.) with Aditya (@forwardshortleg)|
Surrey cricket manager Chris Adams joins the chorus:
"It's not for me to comment on India's selections but I'm amazed he's not playing Test cricket," Adams said. "I strongly believe he will play 100 Tests for India, from what I've seen. I may be hitting high, but he's a wonderful bowler with wonderful skills. I expect him in the next six months to break into the India team and be a permanent fixture."
Which takes us to my obvious yet probably initially incomprehensible wish for a strong Indian Test side. Wait, what? Yup. Let me explain it to you.
Why it is in everybody's interest that India take a leading position in the longer formats:
In Germany we have a saying: "Viel Feind, viel Ehr'!" ('many foes, much honour'); whenever in my short career as a cricket fan Australia managed to beat India, it was a great reason to celebrate, a triumph eliciting joy and happiness. Compare this to the hollow dissatisfaction felt by most of the hopeful curious onlookers during India's English summer, and you will know what I mean.
Secondly, India is undoubtedly the largest cricket market in the world. If India are doing well at Test cricket and ODIs, the market will stay interested in the Indian Test and One Day side, and thus Test cricket and ODIs will keep enjoying a somewhat high priority not just within the ICC but in general; a necessary counterweight to the dominance of T20, which is sprawling rapidly throughout all levels of national, international and regional cricket and taking possession of the virgin, susceptible minds of young players. No, I have not given up the hope yet that somehow we can get our European 50-over league back, fool that I am :)
Thirdly, happy Indian cricket fans are friendly Indian cricket fans. It is very good for everybody's nerves.
Of course you might argue that deflated Indian cricket fans are silent Indian cricket fans, which is even better...
I think that's a matter of personal preference; as a hippie I would pick the jolly ones over the suiciders.
Therefore, select Ojha.
Quod erat demonstrandum ;)
Pragyan Ojha's Championship matches for Surrey in 2011:
2/19, 2/29 v Leicestershire
1/40, 6/8 v Northampstonshire
1/83, 2/42 v Essex
4/48, 6/42 v Derbyshire
This post also appeared on DieHard Cricket Fans