Top-order failure worries Raja Venkat

Poor form of India's top-order batsmen will be a "worrying factor", feels newly-appointed East Zone selector Raja Venkat.

updated: October 01, 2008 13:54 IST
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Selecting the Test squad for the forthcoming Australia series will not be tough task but recent poor form of India's top-order batsmen will be a "worrying factor", feels newly-appointed East Zone selector Raja Venkat.

The former left-handed middle-order batsman from Bengal, who was on Saturday appointed as the selector from the East Zone, seemed unhappy with the batsmen's poor string of form.

"Unfortunately, our batsmen did not do well in the Sri Lanka series. It's disappointing that they are not getting not enough runs on the board. Irani Trophy was also no different... We did not have any big knock," Venkat, a veteran of 41 first-class matches, said in his first interview after being appointed as one of the selector on Saturday.

"That will be the only point of discussion. But our bowlers are doing very well. The spin department led by Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh are at their peak... ditto for our pacers, with Zaheer (Khan), Munaf (Patel), and Ishant (Sharma) doing well. We might see a change here and there," Venkat said, referring to their first selection committee meeting to pick the squad for the four-Test series against Australia.

However, Venkat feels the Australia series won't be too much of a problem for the Indians.

"I hope our batsmen will pick when it matters the most. The Australians have come with a good pace battery led by Brett Lee (who will play his first Test in India) and quite inexperienced spin line-up... I don't think they will be unplayable. We hope for a good contest."

Refusing to comment on whether he would voice for the Rest of India left out batsman Sourav Ganguly, Venkat said, "Let's see. Let me meet with the other members first... Then we'll decide."

Venkat, who replaces Ranjib Biswal from the East Zone, however added that the Big Three (Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahuld Dravid) have served the country for many years and so no question should be asked about their commitment.

"They (the Big 3) have proved themselves over years and have served the country really well... They are quite experienced and it's for them to decide when to call it quits. Be it Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar or Sourav Ganguly..."

Asked how does he see the challenge of being a "paid selector", Venkat said, "Their role has not changed... The criteria for picking somebody has not changed -- It's always performance-based."

Venkat sees Bengal have very good potential in future.

"We have Manoj Tiwary, who has experience of international cricket, waiting in the wings... Then there is the promising medium-pacer Ashok Dinda, who has impressed quite nicely. Then we have two very good promising wicket-keepers in Wriddhiman Saha and Sreevats Goswami. The future looks good," he said.

"We will get to know about more potential players from East Zone when the Ranji season begins on November 3," he added.

Venkat represented Bengal from 1980-81 to 1992-93 and scored 2261 runs at an average of 44 runs per innings. He scored five centuries which includes his 170 against Assam in 1989-90.

Venkat, who pipped Bengal veteran Gopal Bose and Assam's Rajesh Borah in the race, will join Srikkanth (South) appointed as chairman, Surendra Bhave (West), Narendra Hirwani (Central) and Yashpal Sharma (North) in the senior selection committee panel.