Change is the only constant in life. And in a matter of months, opinions and perceptions, change so much so that it's almost jaw-dropping. But that's what runs can do. Who knows it better than the man in red-hot form - Prithvi Shaw.
After nailing, literally NAILING the Vijay Hazare trophy, a video of Prithvi Shaw had surfaced on social media, where he was chilling and celebrating his success. He was lip-syncing/dub-smashing famous lyrics from Divine's rap song '3.59 AM' -- 'Edit karke tune image mera meme bana diya, mehnat karke tere bhai ne pura dream bana diya', which roughly translates to 'You edited my image and made a meme out of it, your man put in the work, fulfilled his dreams out of it'.
His hand gestures, expressions, the very rap, the message of the lyrics, and the whole act pretty much mirrored the man that Prithvi Shaw is. Extremely confident. Someone who's not afraid to express himself on or off the field. Someone who can give it back to his detractors, and rub it too right in their face. But most importantly, he had turned all the stones thrown at him into milestones with the bat. The mouth had also entered the picture but much later. He had survived hell and returned unscathed.
From the most dreaded, unwanted player on the tour Down Under, the man with the most flawed technique, footwork, the excitement for the unravelling of the wonder boy Shubman Gill to the Test arena, all had contributed to the great demonizing of Prithvi Shaw like no other player in recent times on the 2020/21 tour. It was a pretty stereotypical Indian fall-out. The unparalleled hype often meets invalid, insensitive crucification when things don't quite work as expected. Unfortunately for Shaw, it was just not random fans but the team management's belief had also taken a beating. He had hardly failed two Tests. But was axed from the XI.
Cut to the England series, he couldn't even find a place in India's jumbo squad. From the most talented Indian batsman, the amalgamation of the greats of the game - Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag - Shaw's fall was as colossus as his grandeur arrival. But then the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the IPL happened or, should we say, Prithvi Shaw, happened. He blasted 827 runs in eight innings at an average of 165.40, with four centuries, one fifty and a highest-score of 227*. He had created history. No one had ever scored those many runs in a single edition in the history of India's premier 50-overs tournament.
Additionally, the right-hander had led his side Mumbai to the title win. The 21-year-old was then among the top four run-getters in the IPL with a strike rate of 166.48, which was the best among the top 20 run-getters. No wonder the India call-up followed for the Sri Lanka series, which was inevitable.
But now, as it turns out, even the senior Indian team in the UK wants to have a piece of him. After Shubman Gill was ruled out of the Test series, the Kohli-led management requested to fly in Shaw, which hasn't gone down well with the selectors. But, for a fact we all know one thing when Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri ask for something, they are seldom denied. So, there's a good possibility of Shaw making it to the England Tests. But at the heart of it, this might not go down as well for both the Indian team and Shaw, in particular.
Firstly, India already have experienced opening back-ups, in the form of Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul. Besides, Cheteshwar Pujara and Hanuma Vihari can also open the batting, so one thing is for sure, this isn't an emergency requirement. Moreover, with Mayank already in, there are chances that even if Shaw makes it to the squad, he would only enter the picture come to the last two three Tests. In comparison, he will walk into the ODI and T20I sides in the series against Sri Lanka.
There is nothing logical to suggest that the move will work out given the right-hander has played a total of zero red-ball games since getting axed from the side. So, the whole selection idea looks to have borne out in haste and doesn't have solid grounds for it. Shaw's age-old back-leg problems get exaggerated when the balls start to move and England can be the worst place to return for the youngster, given the seaming pitches can leave even the most seasoned campaigners scarred, and unsure of their technique, let alone a nine-Test-innings-old batter. He also happens to be an opener, which is one of the most difficult positions to bat against the Dukes.
Moreover, Shaw is all about confidence. Even if we overlook the technical aspect, which is crucial nevertheless, it has been his chutzpah and self-belief that has helped him develop into a special player. And putting him in England straightaway will be akin to a trial by fire, and a failure would most likely spell doom for his growing career. On the contrary, the Sri Lanka series will be played with the white-ball in entirety, and having done well in the shorter formats at the domestic level, he would be far better equipped to get back to his groove and regain confidence at the highest level this way.
Generational talents like Prithvi Shaw don't just wake up on any random day and turn into greats. They have to be nurtured, taken care of, played at the right time. Only then will the the world witness freaks like Shaw dominating the global stage.
Additionally, picking him over the likes of Mayank and Abhimanyu Easwaran is harsh and that's generally not how players prosper in any team, given it furthers their self-doubts and vulnerabilities if any. Also, if the team management wanted Shaw with so much conviction, why didn't they push for him when the original squad was selected? The BCCI have sent a jumbo squad to England. So, all this doesn't quite add up well.
A great man who goes by the name of Leo Tolstoy had once stated, "The two most powerful warriors are patience and time." It's about the time when the team management instils these two as it will only aid them to unravel the best of Prithvi Shaw, for the world to marvel at. However, England wouldn't be the right launching pad for this Prithvi-sized missile.