MSK Prasad: ''When it comes to skills, Indians are the best"

"The primary objective is to be the No.1 team in all three formats. When it comes to skills, Indians are the best. All we need is planning and proper execution," MSK Prasad, chairman of the BCCI senior selection committee, says.

MSK Prasad

Chief selector MSK Prasad says that the youngsters will always be given an opportunity to prove their mettle.   -  K. Pichumani

Mannava Sri Kanth Prasad, chairman of BCCI senior selection committee, said that all those who have criticised his panel as “lightweight” would start appreciating their job by the end of their tenure.

“It hurt us when many dubbed us as a lightweight panel. But we have taken it in the right spirit and make conscious efforts to pick the best winning combination and we are really working hard,” the 41-year-old said.

“In this backdrop, we are extremely happy with India’s 4-0 result against England in the just concluded Test series. It is the result of complete teamwork, the contribution of the lower-order, crucial partnerships, quality spin bowling and the ability to seize the chances at the right time to win matches, not to forget Virat’s captaincy,” he went on.

“Remember, beating England, which is a far superior side than New Zealand, after it scored 400-plus twice in two Tests is no joke. And the result in Chepauk was a reminder that we just don’t win on rank turners. This team is capable of beating the best in the world now,” he remarked.

Settled line-up

On whether this team had the ability to pull off similar results abroad, Prasad answered in the affirmative. "Let me remind you that India has now two settled fast bowlers Shami and Umesh, a privilege which even Australia, South Africa and England don’t have right now. A very strong batting line-up, quality spinners in Ashwin and Jadeja plus the lower-order contribution which is the best in contemporary cricket,” said a visibly pleased chairman of the panel.

“Yes, one must remember the efforts of the previous panel in giving the youngsters a chance. So we are only continuing that process when we picked the likes of Jayant Yadav and Karun Nair. This is also a pointer to those performing in domestic cricket that performers will not be ignored. The way we persisted with Karun is a reminder about our policy to give a long run to a genuine talent,” he observed.

Coach's role

“The selection panel feels that the best part is the appointment of Rahul Dravid as India A coach and Anil Kumble as the seniors team coach. With their vast experience, they are doing a wonderful job. Everyone can see the difference now,” Prasad remarked.

“The biggest challenge for us is to have quality bench strength. We should be ready with three good teams at any given point of time capable enough to don the India colours,” the former India stumper said.

“The primary objective is to be the No.1 team in all three formats. When it comes to skills, Indians are the best. All we need is planning and proper execution.

“I must say here that none of the members of this selection panel have come up with any personal agenda. In the meetings, we don’t engage in zonal-wise debates about a player. This had started during Sandy (Sandeep Patil) Bhai’s chairmanship,” he said. “We have identified a certain group of fringe players who are on our radar and keep a tab on their performances in Group C too.”

Neutral venues

“I must stress here that the neutral venue concept of the BCCI for the Ranji Trophy is the best thing to have happened to Indian cricket. Performances away from home will always have greater value for obvious reasons,” Prasad remarked.

He assured there were no issues when it came to taking decisions on the big players of Indian cricket. “No. We understand what it means to be in the Indian team. Fortunately, I played along with the other members in this panel at the same time. So we have that desired healthy respect and relationship which should help us work objectively and with all sincerity,” he pointed out.

Player interactions

“The other big difference in our functioning is opening up the communication channels with players. When we pick a player or drop someone else, we try to brief him about the reasons and the logic behind that. It is essentially to give him the confidence and ensure there is no insecure feeling,” Prasad explained.

“In fact, we have taken permission from the BCCI to talk to players, coaches and even officials of the State Associations to stay in touch with ground reality,” he said.

On the team's fitness goals, he said: “We are in quest of being the fittest side in the world. Look at how Kohli and Dhoni have shown the way in this regard. We are fixing parameters in this regard to raise the bar and there will be no compromise, whoever be the player,” Prasad said.

“Finally, cricket is one thing which keeps the entire nation united. So we have to respect the opinion of the critics and also the admirers.And we can assure you that we will always pick the best possible team without any prejudice.”