The decision to ignore Sarfaraz is rather surprising for he has scored 928, 982 and 656 runs in the last three Ranji Trophy seasons. However, according to a report in PTI, below-par fitness level and ‘off-field conduct’ have been keeping the prolific scorer away from being picked for the national team. The news agency quoted a BCCI official as saying, "The angry reactions are understandable but I can tell you with some degree of certainty that the reason behind Sarfaraz getting ignored time and again is not just cricketing one. There are multiple reasons for which he hasn't been considered.”
“Are the selectors fools to not consider a player who has scored 900 plus runs in successive seasons? One of the reason is his fitness which isn't exactly of international standard. He has to work hard, maybe shed weight and comeback leaner and fitter as it's not just batting fitness that is sole criteria for selection," the source went on to add.
In a first-class career of 37 matches so far, the 25-year-old has amassed his runs at an average of nearly 80. However, Ruturaj Gaikwad and the relatively inexperienced Yashasvi Jaiswal got the nod ahead of Sarfaraz for the two-match Test series in West Indies, which starts on July 12.
"His conduct on and off the field hasn't exactly been top notch. Certain things said, certain gestures made and some incidents have been taken note of. A bit more disciplined approach would only do him a world of good. Hopefully, Sarfaraz along with his father and coach Naushad Khan will work on those aspects," the BCCI official went on to add.
As per the PTI report, Sarfaraz's celebrations after his ton against Delhi earlier this year during a Ranji match didn't go down well former chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma, who was in the stands watching the game. Before that, MP coach Chandrakant Pandit too had expressed displeasure over the batter’s conduct during Ranji Trophy 2022.
Further, the official denied reports that his IPL failures were taken into consideration while picking the team for the Test series in West Indies. The official explained, "That's a perception built by media. Do you think there could be any cricketing reason? When Mayank Agarwal broke into Indian Test team, he scored 1000 first class runs in one month. Did MSK Prasad's committee check his IPL credentials? Ditto for Hanuma Vihari, who came through domestic and A team ranks.
“If their IPL and white ball record wasn't checked then, why would SS Das's committee reinvent the wheel now?,” the source added.
--By A Cricket Correspondent