Mohinder Amarnath has spoken and the effects are understandably turbulent. It questions the integrity of people in authority and transparency of the system.
The selection process of the Indian team is one of the most awaited and anticipated events. Aspiring cricketers, cricket lovers, analysts all wait excitedly for it.
Around a decade ago the chairman of the selection committee Kishan Rungta had suggested that it should be telecast live since it generates so much interest. Everyone ridiculed the suggestion but look at what we have come to now.
Amarnath’s revelation has brought the feeling that perhaps all the hoopla we see over selection is just a farce, a show which is actually run not by democratic decision making but power.
He said that the selection committee had agreed to sack Dhoni as captain but an ‘internal arrangement’ saved him.
Many are not aware that as per the constitution of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the approval of its President needs to be sought for a team going on a foreign tour and not for the home series.
Even then, it is a mere formality and only on two occasions has the past President used his veto and that too for the home series.
In 1959, Board President Ratibhai Patel sent a telegram to Indian captain Polly Umrigar before the Chennai Test directing him to include off-spinner Jasu Patel in the team instead of A.K. Sengupta.
Umrigar, a man of principles like Mohinder Amarnath, refused and when he was forced, he quit captaincy on the morning of the match.
In another case in 1997-98, a player was appointed vice-captain despite captain Azharuddin and coach Aunshuman Gaekwad having complained to the selection committee about the attitude of the player. When Board President Raj Singh Dungarpur came to know, he objected and replaced the player with Anil Kumble.
Amarnath’s remarks clearly indicate that though his colleagues had agreed to remove Dhoni, the Board President shot down the move.
If Amarnath was so perturbed with the interference of the Board President, he ought to have put in his papers at the end of the meeting, which he didn’t. Was he so naïve to think he would be appointed the chairman of the selection committee for the next three years during the AGM?
The reason of the President favouring Dhoni over Gambhir is unknown. But it is obvious that no chief would want an employee who will challenge his authority.
If five cricketers have been deservedly entrusted with the responsibility of choosing the best national team, why give veto power to someone and leave room for partiality. What are the selectors there for otherwise? They are paid Rs. 60 lakh per annum (Chairman of the committee gets Rs. 10 lakh extra) with perks because they select the team. The President’s job is not to select the team. By taking over their task isn’t he questioning their integrity?
Why would a selector speak up now if his job might be at risk of getting ‘Amarnathised’. A selector’s job is about making decisions. If we take away this fundamental power from him, he will be a dummy. Why even waste so much money and have selectors when one man can do everything.
And finally, has Dhoni’s perception of leadership changed after his frequent visits to army camps?
The difference in army and cricket is that personnel in the army are trained to be the leaders to combat the enemy. In cricket you have to be a born leader to control ten men for a maximum of five days in the field. It’s time Dhoni introspects his leadership role.