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Phase out seniors, say former players
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 08 - 01 - 2012

VVS Laxman should be the first veteran head to roll in a batting revamp if India is to secure its future in Test cricket, several former players have said in the wake of a second crushing defeat in Australia.
India, which surrendered its world No. 1 Test status during a disastrous tour of England last year, slumped to its sixth successive loss in overseas Test matches with the innings defeat in Sydney Friday.
The 4-0 drubbing in England, coupled with the first and second Test defeats in Melbourne and Sydney, have seriously dented the pride of the world's most vaunted batting line-up.
Senior batsmen like 38-year-old Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid (38) and Laxman (37) have traditionally been India's strength but they have failed to live up to their reputation and calls for infusing more young blood have been gaining ground.
“We can't always think short-term. We need to start building a team as well,” former India opener Anshuman Gaekwad. “Sachin still has the class, Rahul is very hard working but I am not sure how long Laxman will be able to continue.”
Australia, is also going through a tricky transition period after a golden generation of cricketers that included Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist retired one after another.
It has slipped to fourth in the Test rankings after dominating world cricket for over a decade.
Many in India worry that their team is going down the same road due to a lack of replacements waiting in the wings.
Gaekwad, who played 40 Tests for India, said middle-order batsman Rohit Sharma should be handed his debut in Perth and selectors should give struggling batsman Virat Kohli more chances to find his feet.
“It's not that Virat is not batting well. He's just getting out. But all the others are also struggling. If you drop him now, it will dampen his confidence,” Gaekwad said.
“You can't phase out all the three seniors at a time. You have to do that gradually. The youngsters will learn only in the company of the seniors.” That view is supported by former selection committee head Kiran More.
“I would play both Virat and Rohit in Perth. You should let Virat play, he should be given more chances. If you drop him now, he will not enjoy his cricket anymore,” More said by telephone.
Former Test cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar also wants Sharma in the team but in place of Laxman, despite the stylish right-hander scoring a half-century in India's second innings in Sydney.
“I would still drop VVS and get Rohit in for next test. Makes long-term sense. Give Virat one more test ... just to be sure he does not belong here,” he wrote on his twitter page.

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