Singhs not kings in the Test arena?

A major tour is coming up and neither Yuvraj Singh nor Harbhajan Singh is first choice for the Tests. This just goes to show how the wheel of life and cricket has moved on.
This is no adverse comment on the class of these cricketers who have been match-winners for India in the past. Right now, Bhajji is struggling to be a force on the Test match scene while Yuvraj never quite made the longer version of the game his métier although he had sufficient opportunities to do so, particularly in a stint of 11 Tests on the trot after the retirement of Sourav Ganguly left a slot vacant in a celebrated batting line-up.

It would normally have taken a couple of elephants to tear Bhajji and M.S. Dhoni apart, so thick are they as friends. Their form and their bonds seemed so unshakeable the selectors had no reason to look elsewhere for the bowler to lead the spin component.
It is the sardar of spin’s noticeable lack of success in the Test arena of late that ultimately led to their biting the bullet and throwing Ravichandran Ashwin into the deep end. To see him respond with a performance eyecatching enough to earn the match award on appearance provided the justification for the move.
The litmus test of greatness in the post-modern era in cricket is to shine in all three formats. But the amount of cricket is wearing down even the best in the business. A player who is a regular match-winner across three formats is as rare as hen’s teeth.
While the old-fashioned Test player is getting to be like a fish out of water in T-20 cricket, the limited-overs specialists are unable to keep their Test places secure. Bhajji was probably the last one whose place seemed secure in all three forms of the game.
It will always be a wonder why Yuvraj could not quite unravel the mystique of Test cricket. His defensive technique was not of the highest order. His discomfiture against the short ball could plague any batsman. But he is an outstanding striker of the ball with more strokes around the compass than the greatest of batting greats.
What he clearly lacked was the drive to crack the code of occupying the Test crease. It is the curse of the elegant left-handers that they are always thought to be ill-suited in terms of temperament to withstanding the rigours of Test cricket. The Aussies have a term for it — they say cricket is a hard yakka. Maybe, the princely Yuvraj did not have the stomach for the fight even if he had the desire to be termed a great Test batsman. With only two half centuries outside Asia, he is by no means certain to make the Test squad to Australia except as a reserve batsman.
Considering he was one of the prime movers in India’s two wins in the T20 worlds and the World Cup, it is a conundrum that he should be out in the cold just when the greats are needed to change the equations in the Test rankings again.
Of course, no cricketer who is on the international cricket radar can be said to be out of reckoning altogether. The busy cricket scene litters its practitioners with so many injuries that chances can keep popping up at the unlikeliest of times. But then in a scenario crowded with fixtures only a consistent performer can be certain of his place. The selectors were probably right in wishing to move on.

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