Expand the selection panel, says Kiran More

A five-member committee will make life easier for selectors and cricketers, according to the former chief national selector.

Kiran More... “Five-selector policy is always better.”   -  Shanker Chakravarty

When the Lodha Committee recommendations forced the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to trim its five-member selection committee to three, it did raise concerns.

There were speculations on whether it was logically possible for three wise men to keep themselves updated on the country’s vast cricketing talent pool. It’s been more than eight months since, and the national selection committee, under the chairmanship of M.S.K. Prasad, has been trying hard to fulfil its responsibilities smoothly.

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The erstwhile selectors, who are aware of the pressure of the job, believe a five-member policy is better as that would make life easier for the selectors and the cricketers. “It is always difficult for three members to maintain the process. There is a lot of load on selectors, and this way, some of the areas are ignored as well,” former chief national selector, Kiran More, told Sportstar.

The former wicketkeeper-batsman, who headed the selection committee from 2004 to 2006, also believes that sooner or later the Board will have to go back to the five-member policy. “Five selectors policy is always better. They are planning to go back to the old policy and it should be done soon,” More says.

‘Challenging’ task

The Mumbai-based former cricketer also points out that unlike in England, selectors require a lot of travelling in India. And now, with the responsibility falling on just three people, it often gets difficult for them to be present for all the matches. “The planning is important. Earlier, five selectors could visit their respective zones and keep an eye on the players. Now assume, if three selectors are in Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, what happens to the other states like Delhi?” he questions.

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“In India, if you are travelling from Mumbai to Himachal Pradesh or Chandigarh, it requires huge travelling, and with just three men there, things get difficult,” More says, adding: “Now that the number of selectors have gone down, how many matches can a selector watch? If you are attending a Ranji Trophy game, you have to be there for the third and the fourth day, as those are crucial performance days. It is challenging.”

Another national selector, Syed Saba Karim, who took charge in 2012, believes the three-member committee must pick and choose the games in a bid to run the show. “They have to select the important matches, as you can’t possibly go and watch each and every match. There has to be a list of 45-50 players who you think have the chance of playing in all three formats of the game in the national side. Those are the games you need to go and watch where these players are involved,” Karim, who is now one of the commentators in the ongoing India-Australia series, told Sportstar.

Pick and choose

The former India cricketer, who was the East Zone representative in the Sandip Patil-headed selection committee, also gives instances where selectors can ideally pick and choose. “If there is a game between Tripura and Jammu and Kashmir where none of the players are in national reckoning, there is no need of going for that match. That’s for the zonal selectors to attend,” he says, adding: “The national selectors need to focus on 40-45 shortlisted players, and I am sure they are doing it.”

Karim admits that during his time - when the committee had five selectors from different zones - the ‘five wise men’ would make it a point to visit all the matches. “That helped us in having a larger pool of players. So many youngsters have come through from there. That was done as India was in a transition phase then, and most of the legendary cricketers had left the game. So, we looked into building a young side, so we had to watch most of the matches,” Karim says, quickly adding: “But now, that’s no longer the case. It is a great bunch of cricketers and you don’t have to look far and beyond.”

‘Focus on T20s’

While he says that the nucleus of Indian team for the World Cup in 2019 is set, Karim feels the biggest challenge for the selectors is to maintain the supply line. “The biggest problem is to choose the India A side and the representative teams like Board President’s XI, India A, India B. Selecting the Indian team is very easy. What is more important is to have a required bench strength so that as and when the situation demands or the Indian team management asks for a particular player, so then you should have that player ready,” he says.

While he is elated by the way the present selection panel has handled its duties, Karim points out that it is time the selectors to focus on making India a No. 1 side in Twenty20s. “We are already No. 1 in ODIs and Tests, so now, the focus should be on the T20s and that should begin as soon as this series gets over. Try out some guns from the IPL, or go on with the players doing well in ODIs - is a call that the team management must take,” Karim says, admitting that having more members in the panel did help them bring out more talents earlier.

But then, that’s how things stand now for the national selection committee - short and challenging!

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