There is no coordination between the State and zonal selectors with the National selectors, writes Makarand Waingankar
Selection can become a politics-ridden issue. Indeed the practice where zonal representatives nominated selectors was plagued by group politics. If a selector comes into power after such a compromise, he is burdened by the pressure of repaying the ‘favour’ and has to select undeserving candidates. The Board of Control for Cricket in India has done well by discontinuing the practice.
When the BCCI president nominated five selectors, the zones reacted adversely. But the chosen selectors are not only people with immense knowledge but men of integrity and vision. In a country where everybody has an opinion on cricket, it’s impossible to satisfy everybody, including players such as Ashoke Dinda and Pankaj Singh. Sandeep Patil’s idea of ‘horses for courses’ must be appreciated.
It’s a fallacy that those who excel in domestic cricket must be picked. Like his mentor Ashok Mankad, Sandeep Patil is a shrewd judge of a player. Mankad would pick a player based on his consistency in using his strengths. It was he who converted Patil into a middle order batsman from a No. 9 in the Ranji Trophy. Patil went on to play some impact knocks.
It seems that the Patil’s selection committee — Roger Binny, Rajinder Singh Hans, Saba Karim and Vikram Rathour — uses statistics to complement the talent assessment. If a bowler has control over movement but his speed is less than 130kmph, it will not help the team unless he is moving the ball prodigiously like Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Even among batsmen, the ability to play quick short stuff bowled at 145kmph is what the selectors are looking for. It’s the job of the selectors to assess the qualitative strengths and weaknesses of players. If one has to go only by numbers, statisticians could pick the team.
There have been cases when consistently performing batsmen and bowlers were picked for tours but failed miserably. The only irrational selection for New Zealand is of Suresh Raina, who has been getting too many chances.
The problem is that though the five selectors are representing their respective zones they hardly have any control over the zonal selection. That possibly is the reason why Patil opted out of the Mumbai and West Zone selection committees. The voting pattern is such that if three of the five selectors in zones get together, they can control the selection committee. In 1974 when India lost badly to England, Indian captain Ajit Wadekar was given the option of either quitting the game or facing the axe from the West Zone team. Wadekar immediately announced retirement.
A big problem plagues the system. There is no coordination between the State and zonal selectors with the National selectors. Suryakumar Yadav of Mumbai was picked to lead the under-23 Asia Cup which India won.
Instead of appointing him vice-captain of the Mumbai Ranji team, the Mumbai selectors asked him to play an under-25 match. Similarly, Abhishek Nayar who led India ‘A’ was sacked as Mumbai captain after just one match. The reason? Mumbai conceded the first innings lead to Jharkhand!
The BCCI should make sure that there is a level ground of understanding. It must issue a circular to State associations stating that their selectors should be in tune with the policy of the National selection committee.
The State selection committees must strictly adhere to the policy. We need transparent grounds for selection, so no irrationality is possible.