Sandeep Patil: ‘Leave aside personal relations while picking national team’

The former chairman of selector spoke about the tricky nature of the job and weighed in on Ajit Agarkar’s appointment as the new head of the selection committee.

Published : Jul 13, 2023 20:30 IST , CHENNAI - 3 MINS READ

FILE PHOTO: Sandeep Patil during a press conference.
FILE PHOTO: Sandeep Patil during a press conference. | Photo Credit: VIVEK BENDRE

FILE PHOTO: Sandeep Patil during a press conference. | Photo Credit: VIVEK BENDRE

As India started another World Test Championship (WTC) cycle against the West Indies in Dominica, it marked the beginning of a transition process as the team tries to bring in youngsters like Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ishan Kishan, who made their Test debuts.

The last time India went through a similar phase was nearly a decade ago, when the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, and Zaheer Khan retired.

The man at the helm of things back then was Sandeep Patil, who served as the chairman of selectors from 2012–16. The former India cricketer spoke to Sportstar and gave insight into how it was done and the challenges of leaving out the seniors.

“You have to draw a roadmap. We respected all the seniors who were part of the team and who had to make way for the youngsters. You have to look at the new generation in terms of their form, fitness, and whether they will take the team to another level, which they did.”

“We are happy we took some bold decisions that were not liked or appreciated then. But during our tenure of four years, no board member interfered. That’s how we could make a decision looking at the future of Indian cricket. We were happy about what happened in the last four or five years,” said Patil, who was in Tirunelveli as the chief guest for the TNPL final.

“The same thing is happening now, and the selectors must be thinking along the same lines. Rahul (Dravid) is the coach and is very experienced. He must be thinking about it and hoping things will be okay,” he added.

One of the challenges of dealing with transition is deciding whether to start the process gradually or start with a clean slate now that there is a clear WTC cycle.

Commenting on it, Patil said, “You can’t drop three or four players. You need to have vacancies. These guys are legends and have done wonders for India and world cricket. It is not easy for selectors to even think of dropping them. But then you are in a position where you have been given a job to look at the future of Indian cricket. The personal relations you have to leave aside.”

The former NCA director and coach also spoke about the tricky nature of the job, which can cost friendships, saying, “Before I became chief selector, I was friendly with them. After I finished my tenure, things changed. But I don’t blame them.”

“We spoke with all seniors, including the very top players. But later, I learned that they said we never spoke. It was not just me; the job was given to the respective selectors. I remember talking to a couple of them at length. Vikram (Rathore), Saba (Karim), and Roger (Binny) also did. When you select a player, you become a friend; when you drop him, you become his enemy, but that is part of the game.”

On the new chairman, Ajit Agarkar, Patil said, “Ajit has played enough cricket and been the chief selector for Mumbai. He knows his job. I have seen him play, and he has a thinking brain. He has also played with Rahul, making him easier to work with than when dealing with an outsider.”

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