There are no short conversations when the selection committee meets, says Jatin Paranjpe

Selection-committee meetings are never simple affairs, Jatin Paranjpe insists, rejecting the notion that the captain or coach dictate terms.

Jatin Paranjpe

BCCI National selector Jatin Paranjpe during the third one-day match between India-A and Sri Lanka-A in Belagavi.   -  Shreedutta Chidananda

A selector’s job, says Jatin Paranjpe, is much like a wicket-keeper’s. “You are expected to catch everything because you've got gloves. When you catch one, nobody says thank you because you are expected to catch it. But if you drop one, then they ask, ‘How the hell can you drop it?’ You just need to focus on what you need to do.”

Last season, Paranjpe watched, by his own count, one first-class game every week for 28 continuous weeks. For anybody, that is long time to be living out of a suitcase. “Just the sheer volume of cricket, the travel – it’s crazy,” he says during the third one-day match between India-A and Sri Lanka-A here.

“We get a couple of months off, during the IPL, but otherwise it's five days a week on the road, because we make sure that we watch every game that needs to be watched.”

It may be a largely thankless job and an exhausting one, but Paranjpe, one of the All India Senior Selection Committee’s five members, will not trade it for anything else. “When you get the opportunity to be a selector, that is a big honour. When in some small way you are helping people to succeed — what greater thrill can you experience?”

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Paranjpe keeps a keen eye on proceedings at the KSCA Stadium here, sometimes watching the action from the boundary’s edge. “I watch a guy not just when he’s at the crease," he says.

"I see him in the field, in the nets, and during moments of celebration when probably he's not done anything but somebody else from the team has. There are a lot of bits which help you nuance and chisel your opinion on a player.”

Selection-committee meetings are never simple affairs, Paranjpe insists, rejecting the notion that the captain and coach dictate terms. “The selection committee has the mandate to pick the 15,” he says.

“So that's where they are leading the conversation more than the captain or the coach. We’re all aligned on the vision, which is to be the No.1 team in the world. The coach is not part of the meeting; only the captain is, and he brings the views of the support staff. We bring our views as selectors. Then we sit down and reach a consensus. Any decision is well thought-out. There are no short conversations.”

Traveling up and down the country has shown the former Mumbai and India batsman how much things have changed since his playing days. “When I played, the bulk of the Indian team used to come from big cities. Now the bulk of the Indian team is from the smaller towns. And they are coming through because the BCCI is setting up grounds like this, giving kids in the hinterland an opportunity to play on good surfaces,” he says.

Last season, Paranjpe suffered a slipped disc in the gym but he still traveled to Mysore for a Ranji Trophy game, because he wanted to watch the young Karnataka batsman Devdutt Padikkal in action. “I saw a rowing machine after a long time. I worked out and duly did my back,” he laughs. “But if somebody's playing, you want to go and look at them.”