In Harsha Bhogle's recent article in the Indian Express, he mentioned a group of cricketers he claimed to be India's lost generation. These were players who flattered to deceive, who showed an initial spark but failed to live up to their potential, victims of their own prodigious talent. He mentioned Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh. To me they are not so much lost generation players, as they are temporary benchers. These players have proven themselves at the highest level and have now fallen off the radar due to inconsistent performances... I highlight a few current Indian players who have always failed to reach their full potential.
1. Ajit Agarkar - It doesn't get more frustrating than this guy. Oodles of talent, yet an enigma. Century at Lords, yet nicknamed the Bombay Duck. Quickest to reach 50 ODI wickets, yet now only a stock bowler. One never knows which Agarkar will show up at the game. Sometimes brilliant, sometimes wayward and most times plain average. Blessed with immense talent with both bat and bat, this lad has failed to realise his true potential with either. Three performances will stand out for me. His match-winning 4-for in Sharjah against NZ, his 6-for in the Adelaide test win and a 142 kmph beauty he hurled at Mark Waugh in Mumbai, in his second ODI, cutting the stylist completely in half, making him look..erm..clumsy, human. He should have been a certainty in both tests and ODIs, but now plays only in the shorter version of the game.
2. Ambati Rayudu - Hailed as the next big batting hope, this youngster has all but fizzled out. A heavy scorer in domestic cricket early on, his form completely deserted him and a couple of ordinary seasons did him no favours. A couple of Challenger Trophies went a begging and his batting form dipped completely. His domestic average of 39.92 does him no justice. This man is immensely talented. His double hundred and hundred in the same match against Andhra Pradesh in his first Ranji season is testimony to that. He was expected to take over the mantle of genius from Sachin Tendulkar, but still languishes in the mire of domestic cricket.
3. Ashish Nehra - Where is Ashish Nehra? His 6-23 against England will always be etched in popular memory. Yet the man behind a few moments of brilliance has completely disappeared off the scene. Dogged with injury and inconsistent form, this is one player who was to be part of India's new found pace bowling plans. Along with Balaji, they are now part of the what could have been plans.
4. VRV Singh - India's fastest bowler he was touted. Given India's current success with the test team in the fast bowling department, his entry into the bowling lineup looks inevitably delayed. He struggles to stay fit, and is inconsistent at most times. Hope we hear more of him in the future.
5. Akash Chopra - A steady opening bat who was the perfect foil for the exuberant Sehwag. Their opening stands in the tour of Australia were crucial in drawing the series. it was one of the most determined opening stands in the history of modern Indian cricket. Chopra's stonewalling allowed the the batting galacticos to come in play fluently. His contribution as a close in catcher should also not be forgotten. However, the establishment at the BCCI seems to have forgotten him. Dropped by Ganguly to accommodate Yuvraj Singh, a bad move, no doubt, he never could fight his way back into the test team. He and S. Ramesh remain India's best opening hopes who fizzled out after a spark.
Players from the past - There have been a few immensely talented players in the past as well who didn't go on to fulfill their potential - Sadanand Vishwanath, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Utpal Chatterjee, Rajender Goel, Padmakar Shivalkar, Raman Lamba and many more.