Some measures look attractive, but will they yield results, asks Makarand Waingankar

In the history of Indian cricket, there have been controversies that forced the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to convene emergency meetings, but never has such a meeting usurped the prerogatives of others, as did the BCCI working committee meeting held last week.

Possibly the aim was to win back the trust of the emotional cricket lovers of the country.

And apart from a few points, the overall measures decided on by the working committee and the former captains were impressive.

Two bad days of cricket were enough for the BCCI bigwigs to put players on the backfoot. Several of the measures taken by the working committee were long overdue.

But instructing the selectors to retain Dravid as captain and to select a young team for Bangladesh showed a total lack of respect for the national selectors.

If Dilip Vengsarkar and his colleagues in the selection committee have agreed to toe the line of the working committee, the day is not far when the working committee in another such crisis may even select the team and ask the selectors to endorse it.

There have been instances of the working committee or the President of the BCCI interfering with the selections of the Indian team. India captain Polly Umrigar was told to pick a player not of his choice for the Madras (now Chennai) Test in 1959 against the West Indies by the then BCCI President R. K. Patel.

Umrigar's request for a batsman A. K. Sengupta was turned down by the President who insisted off spinner Jasu Patel be played. Umrigar resigned the captaincy on the morning of the match but Vinoo Mankad who led the team managed to get Sengupta included.

In 1965, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) toured India and was thrashed by our strong team in two unofficial Tests. The working committee then instructed the selectors to pick a young team for the third Test. Not only did India lose the match by four wickets but was bundled out for 66!

Good decision

Appointing paid national selectors is a good decision, but how will zonal teams be selected? If the existing pattern of zonal selection continues, the National selection committee will get to watch players selected by the committee consisting of members who have clout in their respective associations.

Representatives of the State associations select the zonal team of 15 from 75 or in some cases 90 players who play for their respective states, and totally 75 play for five zones, thereby restricting the option to select 15 top players for the country from 75 players.

Haven't we heard of India players not getting picked for their state and zonal teams? Ajay Ratra of Haryana scored a century against the West Indies and for the past three seasons has not found a place in the list of probables of his state team. Weren't Sunil Gavaskar and Ashok Mankad dropped in 1974 from the West Zone team against South Zone?

The majority Maharashtra, Gujarat and Saurashtra got together in the selection committee, and neither Umrigar nor Mamasaheb Ghorpade could do anything to prevent the selection of Madhu Gupte (Maharashtra) and Niranjan Mehta (Gujarat).

Will paid selectors solve the problem? Analysing the number of matches played during the season, one observes that ten paid selectors will not be able to do the job if they are not assisted by the TRDOs who are now designated as Match Referees. Out of 532 matches, 325 are played in the junior and 207 in the senior category.

Presuming five selectors each in the senior and junior selection committees are full-time paid selectors, can 532 matches be watched by ten selectors in a vast country like India? Is it possible for each selector to watch all the matches?

The solution could be to ask the Cricket Advisory Committee to select state selectors and 30 Match Referees by interviewing them so that good experienced retired first class cricketers without close ties to the state political clout are not missed out on.

On paper, some of the measures look attractive but unless the process is monitored and analysed, there is no guarantee it will yield results.

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