The Indian team for the 2011 cricket World Cup has exactly one South Indian in it, offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin from Madras. Cut to 2009. The team for the Twenty20 World Cup had no South Indian in it, except the left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha who has made Hyderabad his home.
Seen in conjunction with other landmarks like Rajasthan emerging as the Ranji Trophy champion this year, the selection of Indian teams for world events raises the simple question: is cricket on the decline in southern India, or are competitive cricketers for the rough and tumble of frenetic cricket hard to come by?
Obviously, the fact that all the four southern States have their own IPL teams, the fact that Karnataka has figured in both the last two Ranji trophy semifinals, the fact that as many as seven Kannadigas have been part of the same Indian team are all facts, of course, but the Indian team choice is despite all that.
Going foward, what does the selection of the World Cup team tell us about cricket in the South? That our cricketers are better at Test match cricket? That the competitive fire doesn’t quite burn in our bellies? Or is it silly to see the selection of the Indian team in narrow, regional terms?