Amidst all the debate that took place around the absence of Ambati Rayudu and Rishabh Pant from the Indian ICC 2019 World Cup squad, what stood out most was Rayudu's tweet. But even more interesting was the retweet by another out-of-favour Indian cricketer – Pragyan Ojha.
The left-arm spinner last represented India in Sachin Tendulkar's farewell series against West Indies in late-2013. Interestingly, he was the man-of-the-match in his last Test. Ojha retweeted the comments of Rayudu and added his own views to it.
Now, Ojha didn't reveal who are those 'Hyderabadi cricketers' that have been in 'similar situations.' But does he have a point when he suggests that cricketers belonging to this proud city have had a raw deal?
If we look at the most prominent cricketers from Hyderabad, one can find grievances that all of them can have. But that doesn't necessarily mean that there is any systematic bias against these cricketers. However, let's first look at these prominent names and their possible complaints.
It is very difficult to have sympathy for this legendary batsman from Hyderabad. After all, many would say it were his own actions that led to his career ending in disgrace. While the courts may have acquitted him and there are not any official sanctions against the former India captain, he still carries the taint of match-fixing. However, he can carry the grouse of not being allowed to play his 100th Test and being forced to end his career with 99. Of course, that is a partisan view.
One of the most aesthetically pleasing players in the world and a true match-winner, Laxman's exit from the team was very, very surprising (pun intended). In 2012, he was picked in the Indian Test side to face New Zealand in a two-match home series. But all of a sudden, VVS announced his retirement. Speculation was rife that he had been told by the selectors that this would be his last series and he responded by ending his career himself. How much truth there was in these rumours, we don't know. But it has to be said that Laxman's form had declined substantially in the last year of his career and his place in the team was under doubt. But for hard-core fans of the batting wizard, that won't be any consolation.
Now we come to the main aggrieved party. Does Ojha have reason to feel hurt by the selectors? He certainly does. The Orissa-born cricketer had become a regular member of the Indian Test team by late 2010 and was acting as a deputy to Harbhajan Singh. But for some reason, Indian selectors convinced themselves that he cannot do well on non-Asian pitches. Every time India needed a second spinner outside the sub-continent, they went to Amit Mishra – be it the South Africa tour of 2010-11 or England tour of 2011.
Ojha, in order to prove his worth on non-friendly pitches, played a season of county cricket for Surrey in 2011. Even the former India captain Sourav Ganguly was impressed with his performances in English conditions. But the selectors kept ignoring him and when they decided to replace Ashwin during the South Africa tour of 2013, they went to Ravindra Jadeja and not Ojha.
But even before that, the left-arm spinner was getting a raw deal from his team. After emerging as India's best bowler in the four-Test series against England in 2012, he was dropped for the first two matches of the next series – vs Australia. Imagine the highest run-scorer from a series getting dropped for the first half of the next series. It seems impossible but this is exactly what Ojha faced.
His problem got compounded when the ICC decided to crack down upon suspicious bowling actions and he too had to undergo remodelling. But since then, Ojha has made a comeback but without the selectors giving him another opportunity. So, one can understand why he feels aggrieved. Among all the Hyderabadi cricketers, it's this one who has been treated most unfairly by the selectors and team management.