In 2009, MS Dhoni had made a rather crass remark about Abhishek Nayar, saying he didn’t know whether the Mumbaikar was a bowler who could bat or vice-versa. Unfortunately for the 29-year-old, the Indian selectors, too, seem to be thinking on those lines.
For, there can be no other logical explanation to the all-rounder’s exclusion from the Board President’s XI and India ‘A’ squads picked on Tuesday.
In a move that is bound to raise eyebrows, Nayar was ignored in favour of two other all-rounders: Karnataka’s Stuart Binny (son of selector Roger Binny) in BP XI, and Madhya Pradesh’s Jalaj Saxena in India ‘A’. While one might argue the selectors are looking at giving youngsters a chance, there’s only a year’s difference between Nayar and Binny (the latter is 28).
But a look at this season’s Ranji statistics, and it is obvious who the better player of the three is, purely in terms of runs and wickets. Nayar’s 966 runs (three centuries, eight fifties) and 19 wickets were one of the major reasons why Mumbai clinched their 40th title. Add to that, an unbeaten 62, a six-wicket haul and a match-turning run-out against Madhya Pradesh gave Mumbai that crucial outright win they so desperately needed. To cut a long story short, he was the mainstay of the team.
Binny, on the other hand, has scored 612 runs and taken 19 wickets, scoring a single century, against Maharashtra. Saxena had a comparatively better season, notching up 769 runs in eight matches besides picking up 10 wickets with his off-spin.
Nayar had a productive season in 2011-12 too, scoring 621 at an average of 88.71, before a fractured thumb forced him to miss three games. Binny had pipped him to the Rest of India squad last year as well.
“Nayar’s had an amazing season this year. I don’t know what the thinking behind the selectors’ decision is, so I cannot comment on that. But Nayar is certainly one for the future and he has to keep performing. And just wait and watch,” said former India wicketkeeper and chief selector Kiran More.
Nayar had said during the quarterfinal tie against Baroda that he earnestly believed something bigger was in store for him this season. Sadly for him, neither the selectors nor the captain seem to understand he can deliver with both bat and ball. Nayar’s wait continues.