One of the more common frustrations we hear at PitchVision is the talented player who is not given a chance to prove his ability.
Perhaps you feel you are the victim of this bias.
The men who make the decisions somehow have it in for you or - more often - favour someone else above you for reason that are not about cricket. You can't prove that corruption is happening, but you hear things said and see lesser players chosen above you and become convinced. The coach might tell you it's because the better man was chosen, but you know politics, money or even race lie at the heart of a choice.
It's enough to dishearten the honest, hard-working and talented player.
Don't give up yet, friend. There is hope.
You are not alone. There are inspiring stories of players in your exact position that have gone on to overcome bias and become a cricketer. We can learn from the example.
Is there really a problem?
We all know bias exists, even in people with a pure heart. Yet, often it's a misunderstanding rather than a conspiracy to keep you out of the Indian team. Your first job is to find out as much as you can by asking "why".
Identify who is in charge of picking the team you want to play for, then ask them - in a polite and assertive manner - what you need to do to be considered for selection. The answer will often give you everything you need.
Of course, I don't mean calling Duncan Fletcher if you are playing gully cricket with a tennis ball. You are much better off finding the local academy or club and asking the question. Respected coaches like Monty Desai are open to speaking to players and offering advice. Places are always limited but there is also always room for the best players, regardless of non-cricket factors.
The same applies if you are in a club already. Talk to the guys in charge at the next level. Most will be impressed with your perseverance and will explain things to you.
From there you may realise there is no problem. You can go about your business knowing that you will be chosen on merit alone.
However, there will be frustration. You will find people who can't or won't speak to you. Even if you do get a word with the right person, they will simply tell you the words you want to hear then carry on ignoring you. You may even be told outright that you will never be selected (it's rare but it happens). It's here you know you have a problem.
Tell your story
If you are faced with such frustrations you really only have one choice; tell a story that can't be ignored.
That story comes in runs and wickets.
No matter how biased a selector, he cannot ignore a player who has the numbers.
If you score three hundreds in a row you can be sure you are better than at least one batsman ahead of you. If you take 19 wickets in four one day games, the guy in the team better be darn good. It might take you longer to get recognised for your talents, but no one can be ignored forever if they are smashing it everywhere and knocking stumps over regularly.
The same applies for trials. You may only get six balls in the entire trial. That's not a fair assessment period, but it's all you are getting. So, you have to take the once chance you get; bat like Tendulkar and bowl like Steyn or Warne. If you stand out, you have a much better chance of being chosen. They always choose someone.
Of course, I'm not a fool, I know that often trials are exercises in making it look like local talent is being examined but the decision has already been made. All you can do is keep trying and keep asking for a chance to the right people.
Nevertheless, if you make the right impression you will be remembered.
Every selector wants the team to win, even if they are picking their son and the son of an influential politician over better players. If you are clearly the best player, they will find room for you in the end.
Growth, grit and more than one chance
To keep at this task is difficult. It takes players who can conjure up several chances. Players who keep going to trials, keep grinding out runs and wicket and keep showing their talent to everyone.
That takes two skills that go beyond technique and fitness;
These are skills that most successful cricketers have, but are rarely discussed because they are mental skills. You can't see them, but they are powerful weapons in dealing with tough selection issues.
If you have a "growth mindset" you believe you can get better. You believe that with work you will improve and you believe that chances will keep coming as long as you keep getting better. Click here to find out more about the skill.
With "grit" you have the ability to keep fighting despite setbacks. You miss your chance at a trial or you get a golden duck in your first game of the season. Yet, you are able to keep going. You never give up and you never stop looking for chances to prove your ability. You are fitter and a better fielder with grit behind you. Grit is even the bedrock of good technique. Click here to find out about grit.
Combine growth with grit and add in talent. You are in the perfect position to defeat bias, score runs, take wickets and find many chances. Your future is in your hands, it's up to you to take control.