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.