Indian Cricket’s Status Quo Bias

I’ve talked before about behavioral economics and its implications for cricket; let me talk quickly about one concept in particular — status quo bias — and the case of India’s selection. ‘Status quo bias’ refers to our general preference for the devil we know, rather than the scary future option we don’t. People tend not to like changes, even if they are shown that said changes could result in objectively better outcomes. We’re irrational, it turns out.

I mention this cognitive defect because of Sidharth Monga’s excellent article on Ajinkya Rahane, an exceptional batsman now in his second year of being an almost-national cricketer. In his illuminating reconstruction of Rahane’s career, Monga reveals India’s baffling refusal to experiment more with new blood. Other than Kohli and Pujara, India have insisted on hauling back veterans Yuvraj, Sehwag, Gambhir, Raina, and Chawla to buffer a Test side already past its expiration date. Compare this approach to Australia’s, which has probably handed out a dozen caps to Test debutants over the past two years. Granted, there have been many Australian failures in the past two years, but I don’t think there’s an alternative after 15 years of teams largely picking themselves.

As Kartikeya says, “It is time [for India] to be uncertain again.” After Dravid and Laxman, we knew this time would come. While we’re unlikely to find a generation of players to match the one that proposed in the late-1990s and early 2000s, I’d rather lose with a new, untested but promising lot than this current batch.

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4 thoughts on “Indian Cricket’s Status Quo Bias

  1. Golandaaz says:

    behavioral economics principles apply only to india and not to australia?

    My view on india’s refusal to change is money and many stakeholders beyond just the immediate cricketing circles. there is a business case for keeping the same set of player and none winning. who will buy ad space on TV for a team of little known cricketers?

    Everything in India, including DRS has to be viewed on short term monetary impacts

    • duckingbeamers says:

      Re: behavioral economics principles, I think a large impetus for change came after the Ashes loss, which forced the case for a radical shift. The retirements en masse of some of the greatest Australian cricketing generation no doubt also helped.

      But I think you’re also right about the monetary angle, and it’s something I removed from my first draft because I wanted to think it through without sounding like a conspiracy nut. For example, couldn’t N Srinivasan, among the owners of CSK, want to keep Dhoni as captain to enhance the value of his IPL franchise? (A captain of India obviously adds cachet to CSK’s marketing appeal.)

  2. I love the ideas behind this article, sorry I’ve only just gotten round to reading it/responding! I’d love to see a fresh middle order with Pujara, Kohli, Sharma and Jadeja from 3-6, just for interests sake as much as anything. Unless you’re lucky, it’s very tough to gradually change the guard, and India have reached the point where it just isn’t working and they dont have much to lose anyway (how many Test losses in the last 2 years?).

  3. After Dravid and Laxman India has another one legend cricketer “Kohli” near in future he will be great batsman in the cricket world. Some people said that he is the alternative of Sachin i think they are right.

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