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Thursday, December 02, 2021

Selectors’ role limited when on tour, this needs to change: MSK Prasad

When it comes to deciding the Playing XI on away tours, selectors need a say too, says MSK Prasad when asked about lack of consistency when it comes to picking players.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Kolkata |
Updated: March 8, 2020 9:13:44 am
MSK Prasad, MSK Prasad interview, BCCI selectors role, Sunil Joshi, Sunil Joshi BCCI selector, virat kohli, BCCI, india cricket, cricket news MSK Prasad’s term as chairman of selectors came to an end this week.

MSK Prasad’s stint as the chief selector ended a couple of days ago, with the Cricket Advisory Committee picking ex-India left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi as his successor. Prasad’s stint has been eventful.

In an interview with The Indian Express, the former India stumper did a recap. Excerpts: 

Looking back, how do you see your stint as the chief selector? What are the positives to take and are there are regrets? 

Reaching No.1 rankings across all three formats from where we started is an excellent achievement. Also, developing substantial bench strength across all formats is a very satisfying point.

You covered domestic cricket extensively. Do you agree that performances in domestic cricket should get prime importance for team selection? Or, for the short forms, the IPL should be the benchmark?

I strongly believe that Indian domestic cricket is a robust structure, which is evolving with every passing year. We should give utmost priority to domestic performances and groom the players who are doing consistently well for a few seasons.

READ | What is the plan for MS Dhoni, new BCCI selectors asked during interview

During your time, did you always have a freehand in terms of picking the sides? What was your equation like with the team management?

Our committee had an excellent rapport with both Ravi’s (Shastri) management and (Rahul) Dravid’s management. In fact, we had a few meetings between the selectors and the two team managements which helped in building succession chart that has paved the way for smooth transition of players from India ‘A’ levels to the senior team.

Did you ever find the team management imposing?

When you work over the years, you build relationships with team managements. Then, that comradeship paves the way for mutual respect and understanding. And then, there will be no scope for imposing views as both parties are aligned.

Lack of consistency in picking the playing XI and too much chopping and changing — from Ajinkya Rahane in South Africa two years ago to Wriddhiman Saha during the recently concluded Test series in NZ — has affected the team’s performance and also the players’ confidence. What is your opinion on this? Did you ever speak to the captain and the coach on the subject?

Giving the best possible players for the squad is what we are restricted to by the new reforms and our role has been limited with regards to picking playing XIs.

(According to the new constitution: On an overseas tour, the cricket manager, coach, captain and vice-captain shall constitute the selection committee). I feel this reform is not framed well and it needs to be amended at the earliest.

READ | Sunil Joshi replaces MSK Prasad as chairman of BCCI’s selection committee

India, despite being the World No.1 Test side for over three years now, haven’t done well in important overseas Test series. They won against a depleted Australian team all right, but lost in South Africa, England and New Zealand. The World Cup, too, eventually turned out to be a failed campaign. Is there a feeling of disappointment? Going ahead, what do you think the team needs to do to shed their poor travellers tag?

If you look at the stats of all visiting teams travelling across the world, no team has dominated consistently while playing as visitors. Having said that, this Indian team have won the ODI series in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies etc.

Apart from that, the way our players played in South Africa and England Test series, I don’t agree that we meekly surrendered. Those had been very hard fought contests where the results could have gone either way. We had our moments to win those series.

With regards to the World Cup campaign, we were at the top of the table prior to the semifinals. So you cannot say that we had a poor run. You cannot say the series victory against Australia as a victory against a depleted side. They might have only missed the services of Steve Smith and David Warner, but they played with their best bowlers and our batsman came good in that series.

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During your stint, did at any time the idea of split captaincy come to you? And now that Virat Kohli is going through a form slump, do you think split captaincy would serve India well, as it might lighten his burden? Also, Rohit Sharma has proved his captaincy mettle in the shorter formats.

Virat has led the team extremely well for the past few years, with a very high percentage of success across all formats. Having said that, Rohit also holds a good record in the limited opportunities he had in leading the team.

I don’t think it is appropriate to talk about Virat’s form and attribute it to his captaincy, as he was outstanding across formats for the last three years. You cannot pinpoint his failure in only one series, which he had in the last few years. After all, he is human and this kind of average series will happen in one’s career.

Who are the people whom you want to show your regards and respects in your elevation to the post of selector and subsequently as chairman of the senior selection committee?

I became a member of the senior selection committee when Mr Shashank Manohar was the BCCI president and Mr Anurag Thakur was the secretary. Subsequently, I was elevated to the chairman’s post when Mr Thakur became the president and Mr Ajay Shirke was the secretary. I would like to thank Mr Thakur and Mr Shirke because they have instilled confidence and strength in me with their unconditional support.

I would also like to thank Mr Gangaraju, the former Andhra Cricket Association secretary, who had confidence in me and proposed my name to the BCCI. I would like to thank all the past and present office-bearers, members and staff with whom we have worked day in, day out for the last four years. It wouldn’t be appropriate if I don’t thank the captains MS Dhoni, Virat, Rohit and Ajinkya, along with coaches Ravi, Anil Kumble and Rahul, and their respective team managements who have supported us during our tenure. My strength had been my colleagues whose hard work and commitment helped in building this wonderful Indian team across all formats.

How do you see the roles of BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah in taking Indian Cricket forward?

Sourav has tremendous record both as a player and captain for Indian cricket. He also has gone through the grind as an administrator at the CAB.

On the other hand, Jay Shah has successfully taken the Gujarat Cricket Association to great heights during his tenure with the GCA. With sufficient experience behind them, I have no doubts that they will take Indian cricket forward.

What will be your message to your successor, Sunil Joshi?

Honesty and integrity are the fundamental factors required to become good selectors. If your heart is in right place for Indian cricket, then the results will automatically come good. I wish Sunil, Harvinder and my past colleagues Devang, Jatin and Sarandeep all the very best in taking Indian cricket to greater heights.

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