Imagine the scenario. Virat Kohli, the Indian Test captain and its most popular star currently, and Anil Kumble, the greatest matchwinner of India, are sat on one side of the table. It’s just difficult to visualise the new panel of selectors, led by their chairman MSK Prasad, and the likes of Sarandeep Singh, Gagan Khoda, Jatin Paranjpe and Devang Gandhi, take brave decisions. As a unit, they have the experience of 13 Tests and 31 ODIs, with two of them Paranjpe and Khoda without any Test experience. It’s not to say that international experience is a necessary attribute but does this panel possess the stature necessary to take big decisions. That’s the question doing the rounds after the BCCI named the five selectors after their annual general body meeting on Wednesday.
A former chairman of selectors wonders whether the new lot of selectors would have the “guts” to question Kumble and Kohli. “This selection committee will face their biggest challenge when tough decisions needs to be taken. A moment will come when selectors have to put their foot down and turn down captain or coach’s request. Dilip Vengsarkar did it, so did Sandeep Patil. Otherwise Indian captains can take selectors for a ride. The problem is that if Kumble and Kohli say something, I wonder whether these selectors would have the guts to turn their request down.”
Even the outgoing chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil has spoken about the need to take courageous decisions. “It depends on the selector, the selector should be strong and bold to oppose the captain and coach,” Patil told ABP news.
The entire panel doesn’t need to be filled with men with vast experience but it at least needs one strong voice of stature who can enforce big decisions. The most recent example was Patil who oversaw the retirement of some big names of Indian cricket. “When senior cricketers had problems in any department we made them realise their lacking. It is important for every to have reality check to know their position in team and it’s the duty of selector to make them know what is needed out of them,” Patil said.
The current decision is all the more inexplicable as India have chosen men of stature as the chairman of selectors in the past two decades. Chandu Borde, who was the selector when John Wright became the first foreign coach of India, had the experience of not only 55 Tests behind but he already had a stint as a selector. Syed Kirmani, who was a selector for a year in the early 2000’s, had 88 Tests, while Kiran More, who was the chairman for two years from 2004, had played 49 Tests. Vengsarkar was the most high-profile chairman of the recent times with an experience of 116 Tests. The current lot, with just 13 Tests experience, have been left with an unenviable position.
Prasad and Khoda have been in the selection panel for last one year and now, Prasad has replaced Sandeep Patil as Chairman of the selectors. It’s one thing to be part of the panel, another thing altogether to head it. To his credit, Prasad had earned rave reviews as director of cricket operations of Andhra cricket for setting up infrastructure and proper talent spotting in the state but this job would be a step-up in some ways.
Paranjpe was handling sports marketing of Nike, who is official clothing partner of the Indian team. Sarandeep Singh, a former Indian off-spinner, has been playing for ONGC cricket team while Gandhi has been doing TV commentary in the domestic circuit.
Defying Supreme Court?
The other talking point about this decision by the Indian Cricket board is that it will be seen as defying Supreme Court appointed Lodha committee. The committee had called for a three-men panel with all members having Test experience. The 41 year-old Prasad has played six Tests and 17 ODIs; Paranjpe, 44, has played four ODIs; Sarandeep, 36, has featured in three Tests and five ODIs; Khoda, 41, has played just two ODIs and Gandhi, 45, has four Tests and three ODIs. About 90 people turned up for the interview process for the senior and junior selection committee.
Ajay Shirke, the honorary secretary of BCCI, said that the selection panel wasn’t done keeping zonal pressures in mind. “Not at all. There is no specific intent there. There is no trend. Like I told you we have only filled up selectors’ vacancies as they were created. So two selectors had created their term of four years, the maximum which has been granted to anybody so we have filled it up and the senior-most person has been elevated to the chairman’s position. Selection panel performance is ultimately related to the team’s success,” Shirke said.