The highs and lows of being a selector - MSK Prasad opens up

National selection committee chairman MSK Prasad picks Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal as the best selections in the past two years.

BCCI chief selector MSK Prasad in a light mood at a press conference.   -  FILE PHOTO/ PTI

 

Indian cricket is in a healthy state, says national selection committee chairman MSK Prasad. In an interview with Sportstar, he discussed how the panel functioned in the past two years, the good picks and the plan for the future.

Excerpts:

What were the highlights of your panel so far?

I can proudly tell you that this selection committee has travelled extensively across the country to identify fresh talent from domestic cricket and groom the selected bunch through a systematic process and induct the deserving players into India ‘A’ and further into the senior Indian team. I feel our committee has done a wonderful job in discharging our responsibilities. Our team has won 9 out of 11 Test series. We have groomed around 35 new players (from among a bunch of 60 boys whom we have tried in various levels like Duleep Trophy, Deodhar, Irani Cup, BP XI s and India 'A’ tours) and inducted them into the senior Indian teams across three formats. We have developed sufficient bench strengths in all departments of the game. We are more than happy to pass on the baton to the next committee with the pride of preparing an excellent succession chart.

What was your panel's vision over the last two years?

We had three away Test series which we were very keen to win. Though we could win only one (in Australia after a gap of 71 years) but the way we fought in South Africa and England is a testimony to the hard work. We could have won both these series had we clinched those important moments in Cape Town, Edgbaston and Southampton. But nevertheless, this team fought till the end like never before. Lot of credit should be given to our fast bowlers — Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya for the overseas performances. Credit should also be given to our training systems developed by Shankar Basu and Patrick Farhart, the workload management program we have followed. If you notice the intensity with which our fast bowlers bowled from the first ball of the first Test till the last ball of the last Test, you can clearly find that quality, the intent did not drop even one per cent.

In the shorter formats…

Our primary focus was on building the team for the World Cup and in the process, we tried several permutations and combinations. We were fairly successful in identifying players like Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Rishabh Pant and Khaleel Ahmed.

Who were the most heartening selections in the last two years?

I think it was tough to bring in Kuldeep and Chahal when we already had established spinners in the side. They grabbed the opportunity and delivered consistently. This committee can take pride in grooming Bumrah and Hardik for all formats of the game. Originally, it was thought that these players were meant for white-ball cricket only. Even in case of Rishabh, nobody ever thought he would get into the Test side so early. But we always believed in his abilities. He hadn’t done well in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy season but we still backed him. You see how he has evolved himself as a Test cricketer in such a short span of time.

Kuldeep Yadav (left) and Yuzvendra Chahal.   -  FILE PHOTO/ GETTY IMAGES

 

What is your take on different captains for different formats for the Indian team today?

Horses for courses is an accepted norm in management. I agree with it. But it all depends on the resources available in various countries. For instance in England, Eoin Morgan is a player who is predominantly a white-ball cricketer, hence he has been captaining in shorter formats despite having Joe Root in the team who is leading England in the Test format. If you look at our country, Indian team is placed today at No.1 in Test rankings and No.2 in ODI rankings. We also have a fairly good record in the T20 format. It clearly shows that the team is doing relatively well under captain Virat Kohli in all formats. We will look into it when the situation demands.

Virat Kohli and MSK Prasad at a training session.   -  FILE PHOTO/ K.R. DEEPAK

 

What is the most important quality to become a national selector?

I personally feel that apart from the specified number of games one has represented, honesty, commitment, integrity and confidentiality are the four fundamental factors for a good selector. Above all, one has to take it for granted that the selection committee’s job is a thankless one. No matter how many new players you bring into the system, a minor omission here and there can be subjected to so much of criticism. As long as one is honest and sincere in his efforts and deeds, he can walk out with his head held high.

Your roadmap for the next one year?

In the longer format, all of us are excited to get into the ICC World Test Championship which is first of its kind. We have a solid Test team for this championships with appropriate backups for each department of the game. I am sure we will come out if it successfully.

Similarly we have also started to consolidate the team in T20s (looking at the 2020 World Cup) and also in ODIs post the 50-over World Cup. We have plenty of players doing well in India ‘A’ levels and we started easing them into the senior ODI side. We will give them sufficient opportunities to perform and consolidate their positions.