In India, the national cricket selection committee has been referred to as the five wise men. One wonders if this title was bestowed upon them with sarcasm.
True, men who have a vision for the country might be wise. However, too much of vision with no real grounding is as good as being blind. Vision is not the only requirement for success. You might wish the best for the country but what use is that if you aren’t making good decisions?
The most ridiculous part is that the wisdom of the selection committee was praised many times over when India won the World Cup twice. But after these teams were thrashed in 1983 and 2011, for a year no one had anything to say.
The selection committees cannot be held responsible for every good and bad thing that happens to the team. But it is evident from their recent actions that either Krishnamachari Srikkanth and his colleagues had no fortitude to replace the captain after losing eight Tests badly, or that they felt that the possible replacement Gautam Gambhir wasn’t worth anything to India’s success.
In 1971, when Vijay Merchant used the casting vote to dethrone M.A.K. Pataudi as captain and replaced him with Ajit Wadekar, a series of rumours erupted. It was alleged that Merchant had taken revenge for not being appointed captain for the 1946 tour of England. Those who knew Merchant well didn’t believe this, but Pataudi Junior’s resentment was evident.
An analysis of the selections by Srikkanth’s committee gives the impression that neither was there a policy of building bench strength nor assessment of performing talent.
The Plan is a book written by former Glamorgan player Steve James (scored 16,000 first class runs). It shows how the ECB selectors, High Performance Centre Director Hugh Morris and the coaches Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower transformed English cricket.
One of the perpetrators of this detailed and planned process is present Indian coach Duncan Fletcher himself.
How could Fletcher, who did wonders for England, fail miserably in getting the Indian team to perform in Tests? It seems that Fletcher hasn’t been allowed to operate with the same freedom he had when he was the coach of England. How could unfit senior players make it to the England and Australia tours and the performing ones be left out?
Take the case of Ishant Sharma. If he was fit, he ought to have played against New Zealand. The very fact that Umesh Yadav was preferred to him proves that Sharma was unfit.
The three teams selected recently indicate minimal regard for performance.
A 23-year-old medium-pacer Dhawal Kulkarni has taken 135 first class wickets at an average of 27.74 with nine five-wicket-hauls. This is a performance no other young Indian medium-pacer can boast of. Yet he does not find a place in any of the BCCI teams! There are quite a few like him.
The next four months are going to be very vital for Indian cricket. It is convenient to carry on with the same names in the team.
Making big decisions is not easy and does take a lot of thought and courage. But in a country where everyone has an opinion on cricket, we can at least expect this much effort from the five men crowned to be the wisest.