For most, this may have been a dead and buried topic, but the Ranji Trophy will hopefully reignite the debate once again. Ajit Agarkar, one of the stars of the Ranji finals, hasn’t played international cricket for well over two years now.
And there is a very slim possibility of him making a comeback into the Indian side at the age 32. But with the Indian bowling struggling at the moment and the other comeback men S Sreesanth and Ashish Nerhra not being consistent enough, it might not be a bad idea for the selectors to give the experienced Mumbaikar one final dash at glory.
Of course, it can be argued that India must look ahead instead of digging the past. However, it is a fact that Robin Singh made a comeback at a similar age after a long hibernation period and went on to play for the country with distinction for half a decade.
If performance is the criteria for selection, the Agarkar has done more than enough this season for Mumbai to merit a comeback into the national squad.
As a senior pro of his Ranji team, he has batted with great courage at various stages of the tournament to get his team out of trouble. With the ball, he has been penetrative throughout the season and reserved his best for the last.
The Ranji trophy is seen as a clash of the best in India’s domestic circuit and if Agarkar and his team have come up trumps, it means he is amongst the best of the lot even at this age.
Again, critics can say that the young Dhaval Kulkarni, who has been equally impressive, will be a better choice. That might be a fair point, but the selectors would do well to allow him to bloom for another season instead of rushing him into the international circuit. Otherwise, we might as well end up with another Irfan Pathan-like scenario.
Coming back to Agarkar, he has international experience on his side. Add to it, this tough season of domestic cricket must have made his even better force to reckon with. Time and again, he has made a comeback after being dropped and proved people wrong.
At the time of his axing in late 2007, he was definitely short on confidence and was lacking in rhythm. However, in the last two seasons, he has worked his way up the ladder and his performance with the ball in the finals was undoubtedly a pinnacle of sorts for him, proving that he is raring to go once again.
The schedule for the South African series has been announced and the selection committee would do well to consider Agarkar once again. It would also make sense if he plays purely as a bowler and bats lower down the order as he has self-admittedly not been comfortable in the role of an all-rounder, his performances with the bat this season notwithstanding.
There has never been a question over his commitment and if he can remain fit, Agarkar can still make something substantial out of his evident talent, provided the long-elusive chance comes knocking on his doors.
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