Pleasant changes in the selection committee

In a departure from the practice of selectors observing players mostly from their own states and zones, they will now focus on players from other states and look to push the most talented. Fitness and consistency will be key factors for selection of a player.

ms dhoni anil kumble

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (centre) along with coach Anil Kumble (right) and chairman of the National selection panel M. S. K. Prasad during a practice session in Visakhapatnam.   -  K. R. Deepak

Transparency is the key factor for the recently-formed five-member selection committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

In a welcome move, the National selectors would not be following the players from their respective states. They will focus on players from other states and look to push the most talented.

It is a pleasant departure from the earlier practice where the selectors would watch matches together or two at a venue and some of them would insist on following their state and zone teams.

One remembers an incident in 1992 when Ajay Sharma, still in the running for a place in the National squad, did not find a place in the North Zone team for the Duleep Trophy. When confronted the National selector from North Zone, he had a bizarre response: "Ajay was not backed by the Delhi representative (in the zonal panel)."

The selection meeting was held at the Ferozeshah Kotla and there were demonstrations outside the venue, opposing Sharma's exclusion. Sharma was later drafted into the North Zone team and earned a place in the Indian squad for the ODI series against the visiting Zimbabwe team, contributing an unbeaten 59 in the victory in Pune.

Obviously such incidents would not be repeated in this selection committee where the onus is on watching as many domestic matches as possible. For international matches at home, only one selector would be present at the venue since he has to be part of picking the final eleven. The remaining four selectors would be on duty at domestic venues.

The Board has backed the new selection committee in its policy to pick the players based on consistency. It is unlikely that an individual will earn the selectors’ nod on the basis of one successful season. The trend of a player being fast-tracked into the national team is over now. Domestic performances and a decent showing on the India `A’ tours are going to be the criteria for National selection henceforth. Exceptional performances would not go unnoticed.

There's also a new policy that requires a player to meet certain fitness standards to be considered for selection. Coach Anil Kumble has made it clear that there shall be no compromise on fitness regardless of a player's form and reputation. The Virat Kohli-influence is obvious here since he has set a new benchmark for fitness and commitment in the Indian team.

The selectors have also decided to provide enough opportunities for a player. There have been instances where a player have been dumped after a failure. But this committee doesn't believe in pressurising a player. It's just the kind of support former Indian captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was known to extend to the new comers in the team.