The time has arrived for a new selection committee to take charge and steer Indian cricket. Not long ago the committee was seen as the preserve of persons who had been capped many times in Test cricket. There have been several instances of first class cricketers of outstanding quality having made the cut with someone like Raj Singh Dungarpur being named the chairman of the committee for two years in 1988-89 and 1990.
Those who preceded Krishnamachari Srikkanth — set to relinquish on September 27 — Dilip Vengsarkar, Kiran More, Syed Kirmani, Brijesh Patel, Chandu Borde, Ajit Wadekar, Ramakant Desai, Gundappa Viswanath, Naren Tamhane, Bapu Nadkarni, Hanumant Singh, Ghulam Ahmed, Polly Umrigar, Jayasingh. M. Ghorpade, C. D. Gopinath, Vijay Merchant.
Strangely the BCCI made an exception to accommodate M. Dutta Ray as chairman of the committee for four years from 1963-67; he was not a first class cricketer and held considerable clout even as chairman of the national football selection committee.
Mumbai-based sports journalist G.K. Menon credit’s Ray for his being receptive to ideas and that one such suggestion resulted in the selection of left arm spinner Bishen Singh Bedi.
Prior to Ray, Capt. Vijay Hazare, Lala Amarnath, Nari Contractor, Col. C. K Nayudu and K. S. Duleepsinhji were the chairman of the selection committees. The first committee (1932-33 to 1939-40) was chaired by Dr. Hormasji Dorabji Kanga who played in the Bombay Presidency, Quadrangular and for India in the British Isles under the captaincy of Maharaja of Patiala in 1911. On occasions he was also the captain on that tour.
Initially the selection comprised of three members and then increased to four upto 1969-70 when Merchant, H.T. Dani, C.D. Gopinath and Ray were the selectors. The fifth selector from Central Zone (M.M. Jagdale) joined the above four from 1970-71; a season that became historic because of India’s first series wins in the West Indies and England.
“The Duleep Trophy was founded in 1961-62, but a selector from that zone came into being only ten years later,’’ said Jaywant Lele, former BCCI Secretary.
The BCCI has chosen men with integrity for the important committee. A significant change in recent times has been the five selectors being nominated by the BCCI at the AGM, as a result of zonal consensus and a sort of ‘professional’ element being added with each selector paid Rs. 40 lakh per year and lesser sum for the junior selection committee.
They have also received bonuses for India’s World Cup winning performance for another notable achievement like becoming the No. 1 Test playing nation. The selectors also travel a lot within the country to see first class matches and are deputed during overseas tours
There has been some remarkable selections since the 1969-70 home series against Bill Lawry’s Australia. Merchant’s committee picked Gundappa Viswanath and named Wadekar as captain for the tours of West Indies and England and picked Sunil Gavaskar for the West Indies tour.
Thereafter Viswanath delayed Rahul Dravid’s selection; the right hander was not picked for the 1996 World Cup. Viswanath was also responsible to spot the talent in Jawagal Srinath. Well, thereafter came Sachin Tendulkar’s selection for the tour of Pakistan in 1989. Dungarpur’s committee did not think Tendulkar was ready for the West Indies tour in early 1989, but his selection “went like a shot’’ said Dungarpur for the subsequent tour of Pakistan in 1989 winter.
Kiran More spotted the talent in Rohit Sharma and gave the Mumbai right hander the break in the Deodhar Trophy, while Vengsarkar should be largely credited for the selection of Virat Kohli and Ishant Sharma.
The recent committee had two first class players in Raja Venkat and Surendhra Bhave and along with Srikkanth, Narendra Hirwani and Yashpal Sharma first and for one year with Mohinder Amarnath the committee would appear to have got their act right.
A number of names have emerged in the run up to the BCCI’s AGM here on September 27.The Mumbai Cricket Association has indicated its unambiguous choice of Abey Kuruvilla, the former India seamer, chairman of the committee that picked the World Cup winning India under-19 team.
It’s learnt Yajurvendra Singh too has expressed his interest. The Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) has promoted former India stumper Nayan Mongia to the senior state selection committee and have a shot at least for the national junior selection committee.
No name other than Roger Binny has been heard from South Zone. There are a number of aspirants from Uttar Pradesh, but Sunil Chaturvedi, who has been a match referee in the domestic circuit for 12 years may get the nod.
Mohinder Amarnath has three years to go, but his continuity depends on support he receives from North Units. There are a handful who are interested from East Zone. Srikkanth has said that the process to full the void caused by the retirement of Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman has started and that India has talent aplenty for the new committee to look at.