Kolkata: According to their official Media Release, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced a list of eight elite players as Brand Ambassadors for the upcoming Champions Trophy, which is set to take place in June this year. Seven of them have either retired a long time back or recently, but there remains one player who stands as the odd one out. It is Harbhajan Singh who is one of the ambassadors in the list that includes Shahid Afridi, Habibul Bashar, Ian Bell, Shane Bond, Mike Hussey, Kumar Sangakkara and Graeme Smith, all of whom have retired from international cricket. Harbhajan still aspires to don the India colours.
Undoubtedly it’s a great achievement for Bhajji to be chosen as the Brand Ambassador of the prestigious tournament and after serving the game for many years, he is way more than being just eligible for this role, but here come some questions. Why at this point of time? Why is he an ambassador instead of being on the field? Does this mean that the veteran is past his prime?
If we look at the current Indian cricket team, post the MS Dhoni era, the team is undergoing a transitional phase. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) wants to provide a platform to the youth. Players like Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin leave no scope for the 36-year old Harbhajan to make a comeback.
This year’s IPL saw the Mumbai Indians leaving out Harbhajan in one of the matches. While this has been a huge blow for his fans, the franchisee defended its decision by citing ‘tactical change’ as the reason for dropping him.
Harbhajan, who was a part of the 2002 Indian Champions Trophy squad said, “To be appointed as an Ambassador for a global event in which India will be the defending champion is one of the highs for me as a cricketer and something to be really proud of.” He also said that he would keep a close watch on the performance of Team India and that he was confident the team would do well in the upcoming Champions Trophy. By the way, it is the same Harbhajan who was omitted from India’s playing 11 in the 2013 Champions Trophy, and now he has been appointed as the Brand Ambassador. Well, the message seems loud and clear: Bhajji, it’s time to hang up your boots!