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Friday, September 23, 2016

500th Test ~ (in)experience of Selectors .. !!


Jan 2000 ~ Test no. 1481 – Australia beat India by an innings and 141 runs – VVS Laxman scored a brilliant 167 – do you know or remember who were the Indian Openers  ?


        At Kanpur, in the 500th test -  India seemed to have made the ideal start, winning the toss  on a pitch full of cracks that is  expected to widen and offer lots of help for the spinners from the third day onwards. Their top order had made a confident start, and halfway through the first day they were 154 for 1. New Zealand, though, had come to India with the belief that they had the tools they needed to compete hard. Over the second half of the day, their five-man attack showed what it was capable of, and left India 291 for 9 at stumps.

Cricket’s comparative snobbishness is a peculiarity that sets the game apart.  There are comparisons all the way all around though many a times it may not matter.  At a time when quality Coach is premium, remember that Kapil Dev won 1983 WC with no supporting staff and relatively unknown Mansingh being the Manager.  Then there is Mumbai Indians model ..  owned by Reliance, they are  one of the most successful teams in the IPL. They won the 2011 Champions League Twenty20 after beating Royal Challengers Bangalore by 31 runs in the final. The team won its first IPL title, in 2013, by defeating Chennai Super Kings by 23 runs in the final, and 2nd in 2015.

They can easily field a strong X1 with their support staff having Ricky Ponting, Robin Singh, Shane Bond, Jonty Rhodes, Paras Mhambrey,  John Wright, Rahul Sanghvi and Sachin Tendulkar. They had Anil Kumble too !  ~ so now comparison is on a team led by Mannava Srikanth Prasad.  Indian Cricketers predominantly came from Bombay, Karnataka and Delhi, this man is from Guntur, Andhra – played 6 tests with highest of 19 and played 17 ODIs aggregating 131 runs.

The man who made a majestic 174 at Adelaide and who once hit Bob Willis for 6 fours in an over is in news making strong statements – he is quoted as stating : "there were lots of discussions" around the future of MS Dhoni's limited-overs captaincy around the time he retired from Test cricket in December 2014. Dhoni's unexpected exit from the longest format mid-way through India's Test series in Australia came as a "shock", Patil said, but he was happy that Dhoni decided to move on when he realised his mental and physical fitness were not up to scratch.  Patil, whose four-year term as chief selector ended a couple of days ago, said his panel deliberated making a leadership change in ODIs then, but eventually decided not to, keeping in mind the 2015 World Cup was only a couple of months away at the time.  He added that Dhoni’s decision to retire was a selfless one. 

The other big retirement Patil's panel had to deal with was even more high-profile: the retirement of  legendary Sachin Tendulkar. Patil recollected the precise moment he first had a chat with Tendulkar about his plans for the future, in December 2012. Patil said Tendulkar made the decision to quit ODIs after he and fellow selector Rajinder Hans had that chat with him during the Nagpur Test against England.  "We have never told any player, let it be Sachin Tendulkar or any other player, 'that is enough, now we are going to drop you'. We wanted to ask 'what's the plan in your mind'. – does that sound an euphemism !!  Tendulkar's Test retirement came a year later, following a farewell series against West Indies in November 2013.

Former India opener Virender Sehwag, who had previously told ESPNcricinfo that he was "hurt" by the manner in which the selectors dropped him in 2013, more recently said it would have been nice if the selectors had offered him a farewell Test as well. Patil said while he empathised with the players, it was not their right to ask for a farewell match.


Now former wicketkeeper MSK Prasad has been chosen to succeed Sandeep Patil as the chairman of India's selection panel. The decision was taken at the BCCI's 87th  annual general meeting in Mumbai, after the board had invited applicants for the selection job for the first time.   

Former offspinner Sarandeep Singh, former batsmen Gagan Khoda, Devang Gandhi and Jatin Paranjpe are the other four selectors named in the five-member panel. Former India seamer Venkatesh Prasad has been  retained as chairman of the junior selection committee. 



By  picking a five-member selection panel, the BCCI went against one of the Lodha Committee recommendations that was approved by the Supreme Court in its July 18 order: to trim the selection panel to three members. The Lodha Committee also said only former India Test players should be eligible to be appointed to the men's and women's selection committees, provided they had been retired from the game for at least five years. Khoda and Paranjpe have not played Test cricket.  BCCI's eligibility criteria, however,  has a proviso or representing India or more than 50 first-class matches in India- fair for in this land there have been great cricketers who somehow never had the distinction of representing the Nation. 

The highest wicket taker in Ranji, Rajinder Goel (637); highest run getters (2,3,4) Amol Muzumdar, Mithun Manhas and DEvendra Bundela  - have never played for India.  So that way, the relative inexperience of MSK Prasad should not be talked about.

Sandeep Patil, the previous chairman of selectors, played 29 Tests and 45 one day internationals. Venkatesh Prasad, the chief selector for juniors, featured in 33 Tests and 161 ODIs. In contrast, India's new five-man national selection committee has played a total of 13 Tests and 31ODIs. In this new panel  MSK Prasad played 6 Tests and 17 ODIs. The others-  Devang Gandhi (4 Tests, 3 ODIs), Sarandeep Singh, (3 Tests, 5 ODIs), Gagan Khoda (2 ODIs) and Jatin Paranjpe (4 ODIs).  Coincidentally , even though BCCI has scrapped the traditional practice of having one selector from each of the five zones, each member of the new committee belongs to a different zone. Prasad is from Andhra (south), Khoda from Rajasthan (central), Gandhi from Bengal (east), Paranjpe from Mumbai (west) and Singh from Delhi (north).

One needs to wait and see whether the experience of the Selectors in anyway impacts the performance of the Team.  Getting back to that Q at the start, surprisingly in that test at Sydney in 2000 – there were no regular openers – VVS Laxman opened with MSK Prasad, the wicket keeper in both the innings.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Sept. 2016.

2 comments:

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