The Committee of Administrators (CoA) is keen that the selectors have a say in picking the playing XI, The Indian Express has learnt. Though, the new BCCI constitution restricts the selection panel on overseas tour to just the captain, vice-captain and coach; the CoA wanted a discussion on including the travelling selectors in decision-making.
The debate spiralled in the wake of Karun Nair claiming that the team management hardly explained why he was not only left out of the playing eleven in England but also preferred in the final Test to Hanuma Vihari, who joined the team only the third Test. As opposed to Nair who was there right from the start.
Understandably, the Nair episode dominated Virat Kohli’s press conference on Wednesday, in which Kohli tried to estrange himself from the selection storm by defining the clear-cut roles of the selectors and the captain. “There are three guys (five selectors actually) doing the job of selecting the team, and the chief selector has already spoken to the player of what I know. I don’t think I’m in a place to comment about that, selection is not my part of the job. It is upon three individuals to do what they are doing… It’s not my job as a captain to speak about that,” he asserted.
He was not passing the blame to the selectors but merely trying to defend himself. Maybe, Nair was thrust on him—the way the entire narrative panned out, it’s a compelling thought. However, he felt that people were confused and were under the impression that the decision were made jointly.
“It is not a joint thing everywhere, I think that’s the confusion right now that people are combining everything in one space and thinking everything is happening from one place, which is not true. People conveniently merge everything and make it a circle,” he said.
Though selectors Devang Gandhi and Sarandeep Singh were present in England, they seemingly weren’t hands-on with regard to picking the final XI. Upon his return, Nair spoke about his plight, that he didn’t have “any conversations” with the selectors or team management. “We haven’t had any conversations. Nothing at all… It is difficult, but I haven’t gone forth and asked anything, but yeah, we haven’t had any conversation,” he was quoted as saying. Overall, there was miscommunication, rather a lack of communication, in each step.
Chief selector MSK Prasad, though, contradicted Nair’s claims that no one had spoken to him during the tour. “Communicating unpleasant news is a big challenge in itself. It is the selection committee’s responsibility though, and we have never shied away from it. Even in the case of Karun, my colleague Devang Gandhi spoke to him in England to keep his spirits up. I personally spoke to Karun soon after the Test squad was announced for the West Indies series,” Prasad had told this paper.
He also explained to him why he was left out of the West Indies series. “I also explained the reason behind his non-inclusion. I told him that we cannot have an extended squad at home and keep him waiting for his opportunity to play in the XI, and that too in a two-Test series. Rather, it makes sense to play in domestic competitions and keep scoring runs,” Prasad revealed.
Nair’s exclusion baffled the former India players as well, including ex-captain and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar. And the storm is still blowing, notwithstanding the fact that a new series is about to begin. In fact, today’s press conference hardly dwelled on the present, instead it swung between the recently-concluded England series, the same threads being picked again, and the same debates being whirled around. Nair, who was plying his cricket some 2,000 miles away from Rajkot, in the Bangalore suburb of Alur, was very much at the heart of the discourse.