Messing up the selection procedure


Amol Muzumdar, who has over 7000 runs to his credit in first class cricket, does not find a place in the West Zone team.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

THE Karnataka State Cricket Association had moved two resolutions at the last AGM of the BCCI, but politicking didn't allow it to be tabled. One of the resolutions was about a 3-member national selection committee. It was in 1997 that the BCCI had formed a 9-member committee to study and recommend the advantages of a 3-member national selection committee, but the report was not discussed in the Working Committee.

Looking at the way the zonal selectors have selected their respective zonal teams for the Duleep Trophy, the KSCA Secretary Brijesh Patel may have to amend his resolution. Indian cricket selection is in a terrible mess. The West Zone selectors, knowing that the camp for the Indian probables would be held at Bangalore from October 19 to 22, selected Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan and Ajit Agarkar for the Duleep Trophy.

The North Zone selectors didn't pick Yuvraj Singh as he was to be selected for the Bangalore camp. Kiran More and his colleagues in the West Zone selection committee gave the impression that they met to pick the best players available, though at the time of writing I was told that they had chosen the four stand-byes whose names weren't announced. Why did they have to do that if other committees had announced the stand-byes?

The composition of the West Zone team was severely criticised by Sachin Tendulkar at the press conference. Tendulkar is not one to get into any controversy. In fact he never reacts to any controversy but the omission of Amol Muzumdar, who scored 593 runs with three centuries in the Ranji Trophy, irked him. "This is not the real West Zone team. How could you drop a batsman like Amol Muzumdar?" To provoke Tendulkar to step into a controversy, you really need to have messed up.

Amol Muzumdar, who has scored over 7000 first class runs, doesn't find a place in the zonal team? Ridiculous! But then in 1974, three selectors from Saurashtra, Gujarat and Maharashtra got together to drop Sunil Gavaskar and Ashok Mankad from the West Zone team against South Zone. They were replaced by Maharashtra's Madhu Gupte and Gujarat's Niranjan Mehta. Imagine the Chairman Polly Umrigar (Mumbai) and Mamasaheb Ghorpade (Baroda), the two knowledgeable former Test cricketers, in minority. This trend has been continuing and that is the reason Dilip Vengsarkar, after attending one West Zone selection committee meeting, never went for another.

A consistent performer, Joginder Sharma was not selected for the Challenger Series.-V.V. KRISHNAN

The solution is to have a 3-member zonal selection committee. Yes, you can have a 3-member national selection committee which should appoint 3-member zonal committees. Duleep Trophy is for the best 75 players and if the quota system is going to get rid of good players, a 3-member national selection committee will have no other option but to watch those players selected by each zone's five state selectors.

The workload on the professional selectors can be divided as is done in the Talent Resource Development Wing. Twenty Talent Resource Development Officers watch more than 250 matches in the different age-group tournaments. Similarly a 3-member zonal selection committee (Five committees) can watch Ranji matches and pick the zonal team. A 3-member national selection committee can oversee the operation. The current honorary system has become fundamentally about convenience and expedience. If instead, the selectors are paid to watch matches, there will be accountability. At the moment there is no accountability.

Yusuf Pathan, an off spinner from Baroda, with an average of 39 runs per wicket was selected for the Challenger Trophy. He may be talented but the fact is he hasn't performed. Picking 11 wickets in 12 one-day matches for Baroda with an economy rate of 4.40 is not good enough to be picked in the best 39 of India.

Joginder Sharma, an all rounder from Haryana, was a member of the Indian team that toured Bangladesh in March this year and he wasn't selected for the Challenger Series despite performing consistently. How could a player good enough to be in the 15 of the Indian team seven months back not be in the best 39 for the Challengers? This is something the national selection committee should answer.

At the moment there is no transparency in the selectorial process. There is no accountability. But there is this quota system. Greg Chappell may want India to go to another level but unless the existing selection system is changed, nothing will improve. We will still see undeserving players overtaking the performers and we will still get to read the selectors defending their indefensible decisions.

The BCCI is under pressure from the cricketing fraternity to make the selection process result-oriented. No longer can they avoid the issue. They need to act before anyone moves the court against the selection process. Though judicial petitioning should not be encouraged, it would be a legitimate demand to change the selection process.

So have five zonal committees of 3-members each appointed by a 3-member national selection committee and we will hopefully see a change for the better in Indian cricket. If 18 committed, experienced, professional former first class cricketers can't change the face of Indian cricket, no system can.