Twenty-three years after his last association with the game in an official capacity, former India pacer Salil Ankola has been appointed chairman of the senior selection committee by the Mumbai Cricket Association. Former left-arm spinner Sanjay Patil, Ravindra Thaker, Zulfiqar Parkar and Ravi Kulkarni have will be the other selectors.
Ankola had applied for the role of Mumbai coach, apart from the selectorial job, and the Lalchand Rajput-led Cricket Improvement Committee (CIC) felt he will suit the role of selector for now. Ankola played one Test and 20 ODIs in the 1990s before switching to a career in television and films.
“I had given them (MCA) options. I wanted to be coach or selector. I just wanted to get myself involved. I just wanted to be part of the game and help the boys. I had earned enough money, now it’s about satisfaction of my soul. I have been seeing that our team is not doing well for the last few years and the least I can do is to try and bring Mumbai back to its former glory,” Ankola told The Indian Express.
The first major task for Ankola and Co. will be to select the team for the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament which will have to report to its bio-secure hub by January 2. The BCCI will have six such hubs, with the 38 member teams divided into groups.
Ankola said that a return to cricket had been on his mind for a long time. “I was an actor by default and cricketer by heart. Cricket was always my first love. I always dreamed to play for India. Cricket comes naturally to me. For the past few years, I was telling my wife that I want to come back to cricket; last year we decided that let’s go back into the game. I spoke to my close friends and they also said that I should come back,” he adds.
The 52-year-old former pacer is aware that cricket has changed since his playing days, and so have the cricketers. He calls himself a “silent spectator” who has been following cricket closely.
He explains: “When we used to play, we had a different breed, it was a different generation. Time has changed, one has to adapt to the changes in life. Cricket has also changed. It will be a challenge for us to bring back Mumbai to its old glory.”
The last time Ankola was seen on a cricket field was in 1997. “My life has been full of challenges. It is nothing new for me. We are going through a phase where we have to build a team for Mumbai. What better time to come back than this? When the sailing is smooth, there is no point in sailing.”
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