No bowler in the panel

Former India stumper M. S. K. Prasad replaced Roger Binny as South Zone’s representative in the National senior selection committee while former India opener Gagan Khoda came in for Rajinder Singh Hans in Central Zone.

M.S.K. Prasad leapfrogged other favourites to become South Zone’s representative in the National senior selection committee.   -  C. H Vijaya Bhakar

Selection panel chief Sandeep Patil survived the axe but Roger Binny and Rajinder Singh Hans could not do so. Former India stumper M. S. K. Prasad replaced Binny as South Zone’s representative in the National senior selection committee while former India opener Gagan Khoda came in for Hans in Central Zone.

The first aspect that strikes one about this selection panel is the absence of a bowler. With Binny and Hans gone, this committee is without a paceman or a spinner. Batsmen Patil (West), Vikram Rathour (North), and wicket-keeper batsman Saba Karim (East) are the other members.

Mohinder Amarnath was in the running for the chairmanship of the panel but then he could not be nominated from North, where Rathour has close ties with a top BCCI official. Amarnath could have also been proposed by West Zone since he turned out for Baroda towards the end of his career. But this move might have caused friction in the West where another batting giant Dilip Vengsarkar could not be shortlisted since he was a vice-president in the Mumbai Cricket Association.

The Board settled for status quo vis-à-vis the chairmanship and Patil hung on to his role. Conflict of interest, however, cost Roger Binny his job since his son Stuart is a contender for a place in the Indian team. That Binny always left the room when Stuart’s name was discussed by the panel could not convince the Board. M. S. K. Prasad came in for Binny, beating back strong challenges from former India paceman Venkatesh Prasad and W.V. Raman.

Prasad’s advantages are he is age (40) and the fact that he has played first class cricket till 2007, which indicates he will comprehend the demands of the modern game with its three formats. A 'keeper whose displays behind the stumps oscillated from the brilliant to the ordinary, he played six Tests for India in the late nineties before injuries put roadblocks in his career.

Prasad is also popular across States in South Zone. Director (Operations) in Andhra Cricket Association, he will have to give up his role with his home State though. His elevation also means India will have two stumpers in the panel. It is believed ‘keepers judge talent well since they spend so much time behind the stumps and are so close to action at all times.

Venkatesh Prasad has been mollified though. He has been given the responsibility of heading the junior selection panel. Ironically, ahead of Monday, M.S.K. was in the running for precisely this role. On the all-important day, he leapfrogged over the rest.

Like M.S.K. Prasad, Khoda is rather young at 41 and has played first class cricket till 2009. Often prolific in the domestic circuit, Khoda made a creditable 115 runs in the two ODIs he represented India at an average of 57.50. Although these two matches were against Bangladesh and Kenya, he was perhaps unlucky not to receive more opportunities.

Khoda’s qualities as a talent spotter are largely unknown. Gyanendra Pandey and Pritam Gandhe were the other notable candidates from Central Zone. All said, this selection panel would have looked better with a bowler in its ranks.