Krishnamachari Srikkanth,whose tenure as chairman of the national selection committee ends on September 27,tells The Indian Express that though the next generation of players will find it difficult to fill the void created following the retirement of legends they do have the potential to take India to the No 1 position again. Excerpts
Looking back on your time as chief selector,how would you sum-up your tenure?
* Our selection committee never wanted to be in the spotlight. We wanted Indian cricket to progress and a couple of poor series notwithstanding,we did progress as a team. We became the No 1 Test team and remained at the top for 20 months. I want this team to win the World T20 currently being held in Sri Lanka; that would be a great result for us. Overall,we did face some criticism but I guess that is just part and parcel of our job. The key was that we had the confidence of the players.
Your stint as chairman also coincided with the retirement of senior players -Anil Kumble,Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. How did you go about picking their replacements and how challenging was the task?
* It’s extremely difficult to find replacements for the greats like Kumble,Dravid and Laxman. But Indian cricket has to move on. Domestic cricket is your supply line and though there is a big gap between the standard at the domestic level and the international one,I can say that a few of them made a smooth transition. In some cases it took time for a player to progress at the international level. We had to resort to a trial-and-error method.
So how hopeful are you of the future of Indian cricket across formats?
* Of course I am hopeful. We have some magnificent batting talent in Virat Kohli and Chestehwar Pujara. They have the potential to fill the big shoes. When it comes to a spinner,we have Ravichandran Ashwin while Umesh Yadav is a fine pace bowling prospect. These players are the future of Indian cricket and they will play a role in helping India reach the No.1 ranking again. Also,the likes of Rohit Sharma,Suresh Raina,Ishant Sharma and a few others deserve a mention.
India winning the World Cup at home was a high point but in your final year we were blanked in the Test series against England and Australia. How frustrating was the series of losses in Tests?
* Definitely winning the World Cup was an achievement about which not enough can be said. After the ODI series in South Africa,before the World Cup,perhaps not many people gave us a chance but as selectors we were confident that we had put the best team on the park for the 50 over World Cup. Yes,the losses in England and Australia were the low points. In England injuries to some key players,including that of Zaheer Khan,did affect us. But we felt that it was not the time for a knee-jerk reaction because of the poor results in England and Australia. We decided to keep faith in the team because we knew they had the potential to bounce back.
At the end of the Australia series,by which we had lost eight overseas Tests in a row,didn’t the selectors consider whether or not a change in captaincy was required?
* At that point in time there was a lot of speculation regarding selection matters,which were unwarranted. All I can say is that we won as a unit and when we lost it was a collective failure. It would have been an injustice to make skipper MS Dhoni the scapegoat for Test losses. Yes,we did experiment with vice-captaincy and gave Virat Kohli the role.
Would we see you in another role as part of the Indian cricket set-up?
* Hopefully,yes. Let’s see what happens at the BCCI annual general meeting. Cricket has given me a lot and I would like to do my bit for the game.