Selection Committee – The ‘PAWAR’ Play
“The voting system which is followed during the team selection committee meeting is not a proper method. It sometimes leads to so many biased decisions. So many non-eligible players are entering into the squad through such selection process.” Kiron More, Chairman Cricket Selection Committee. The Hindu National Daily, 14th September 2006.“Mumbai’s Dilip Vengsarkar will be the new cricket selection committee chairman and the current BCCI president Sarath Pawar will be re-elected as the BCCI president. The recent changes made in BCCI constituency are assuring Pawar’s re-election.” The Hindu National Daily, 23rd September 2006.“Indian Cricket Team’s door is not shut for anyone, provided he should perform well and give his 100%. No discrimination will be allowed.” Dilip Vengsarkar, Chairman, Cricket Selection Committee. ESPN STAR SPORTS, 28th September 2006.
India Cricket world is always known for the political games that are happening in BCCI. A few years back, Jagmohan Dalmia was showing his political power in BCCI. But now the union cabinet minister and Marata political leader Sarath Pawar is ruling the Indian cricket world. After a lot of political dramas, Dalmia was stepped down from the BCCI chief position and Pawar sworn in almost one year back. But the political dramas are still continuing. BCCI was always under the influence of the Mumbai lobby. When Dalmia was elected as the BCCI head, the Kolkatta lobby started their game. But Kolkatta lobby was always better than the Mumbai lobby since it was less likely to be influenced by the politics. Controversies on selection process are very much common in Indian Cricket World nowadays. It was there from the early stages of Indian Cricket. It has continued and still continuing. Mumbai lobby had played a very crucial role in these controversies all the time. They were directly or indirectly involved with these incidents. Cricket experts are pointing out regionalism and the politics inside the BCCI as the reasons for these controversies and foul plays.
Almost 8 to 10 years back, there was a point of time where Indian Cricket was really worried about the future. We couldn’t see much new faces in the team at that time. Former captain Ganguly and the present captain Dravid are the two exceptions. Not much talent hunts were happened in the bowling department as well. As a result Indians were really struggled in the 1999 World Cup. BCCI has decided to come up with a foreign coach and change the captaincy of the team. This bold move dramatically changed the face of Indian Cricket. Meanwhile the BCCI’s control has been shifted from the Mumbai lobby to the Bengal lobby. Selection committee has been re-organized and in fact it was one of the greatest step ever taken. Soon we have witnessed the rushing of young talented players into the national team. Ganguly-Wright duo has utilized them in a right manner and came up with a young talented Indian team, which has reached the finals of the 2003 World Cup. The selection committee has supported the Captain and Coach all the time to recruit the right players they were in need. When Kiron More took over the chairman of the selection committee, plenty of actions were happening to build a young talented Indian team who can be able to bring the World Cup back to the sub-continent. It was a remarkable performance from Kiron More as the Chairman of the Selection committee. He has done his job pretty well, even though he was a companion of selection and Abhijith Kale bribing controversies. If we look into the positive sides, he has introduced so many young talented faces to the team. Moreover he has supported them during their struggle period as well.
It’s a very usual fact that each selection committee meeting follows controversies. John Wright, the former Indian Coach has disclosed so incidents that were happened during the selection committee meetings in his book “The Indian Summers”. He has clearly described about the various foul plays that were happened during his coaching time. Although he has revealed the true facts behind so many controversial decisions made by the selection committee, Indian cricket world didn’t give much importance to those. But it’s high time to avoid such controversies.
India is a big country and lots of players are performing in the domestic cricket. So BCCI has appointed five selection committee members to pick up the players based on the region. But it is not enough to provide enough opportunity for the young talented players. It was a known fact that it’s very difficult to get a place in the Indian cricket team for a south Indian player. Because the northern and western part of the cricket boards used to dominate in BCCI. So the decisions of the selection committee were biased even though the regional selectors were there. It’s a common phenomenon that the ruling side of BCCI used to put pressure on the selection committee to select their own players. There was a time when Southern part used to get disappointed after the selection committee meetings to select the players for various tours and tournaments. One of the greatest victim such discrimination was the former Kerala captain Ananthapadhmanabhan. At that point of time, the Mumbai lobby was dominating in the selection process. If you look into the number of Mumbai players came into the Indian squad, you can find the intensity of the interventions in the selection process can be easily understood. We can point of lot many players. When a classy spinner like Ananthan is performing well for Kerala, less talented spinners like Nilesh Kulkarni ahs picked his spot in the Indian team for various time and disgustingly Ananthan couldn’t even find his place in the 15 member squad for a single time. The lobby game were so strong that the regional electors were helpless. There were some revolutionary changes happened during the 1995 period when lots ok Karnataka players started getting into the national side. It was a positive sign for the southern side, but as expected this also went in the wrong direction itself. The BCCI authorities always tried to pick their own boys, irrespective of the talents and performances. These power plays were happening for a long time.
When Jagmohan Dalmia has taken over BCCI charge, another Eastern era for Indian Cricket was expected. Fortunately the conditions were improved after that. Lot many talented players were started coming into the team. Some of them have proved themselves and found their spot in the squad. Lot many players from the Southern part got opportunities to play in the National side and prove themselves. The regional selection has happened pretty well. The biased selection process continued for a long time. Major controversies were about the players from Bengal. Most controversial one was the selection of wicket keeper for India’s various tours. Still so people believe that it’s Dalmia who have played behind to bring Bengal’s wicket keeper Deep Das Gupta to the Indian Squad. But fortunately the intensity such interventions were very less. As a result India has came up with a young talented team for the World Cup 2003. Boys have fought well and reached up to the finals of that great tournament. With help of John Wright and Ganguly the experimentations in the team have progressed and which has resulted a better future for the Indian Cricket.
Once again the BCCI ruling side has changed around one year back. We could see the differences in all aspects of the game. Mumbai lobby has started their power plays. Lot many controversies have happened during this period. Ganguly’s sacking from the national squad was just a beginning. Axing of so many senior players were happened in the name of brining more young bloods into the team with a focus on next world cup that is to be held in 2007. But the foul plays in the selection processes are still continuing. Once again Mumbai players have started their marching to the Indian team. Some of them are there with the squad even without any significant performances. It was always there as a problem for the Indian Cricket, when one who performs stands out of the national squad, so many people who don’t even deserve their spot in the team are entered into the team through the back door games. Most recently Sreesanth’s omission from team for RP Singh, it was another political drama that happened. These are really killing the passion and confidence of the young players. Such players will remain in the team for a long time and will get more than enough chances to perform too. Meanwhile the deserved people are still waiting outside for a chance with some good performances in the domestic cricket. Actually these types of incidents are seriously affecting the confidence of such players. This is creating much frustration in their mind and which will in turn lead to the collapse their career too. When such power plays are happening in the board, lots of talented players are ending their cricketing career at the early stages itself.
Lets do have a comparison with India and Australia. What make Australia a better side than India? Are the flourished with more talented players than India? Do they have any special plan for game? Absolutely No. What makes them unique in the world of Cricket is the Professionalism they have adopted. They are following that professionalism from the training camps for kids to the least important things affecting the team. They are very much keen on such things. Being a small country, lots of talented players are coming up from Australia. They never face a problem when a class player is getting retired from the International team, because the next level of good, talented players are ready to replace them. The cricket board in Australia is very much free from the dirty politics. They are working hard to make a better team always so that they can remain in the spot of the world champions. The selection process they are following is accurate and they are ensuring that the right kind of players is coming into the squad. Moreover, with the rotation policy they are following, all the players in the squad will get the chance to perform. They do experiments and achieving results. Aussies selectors believe in performances. Not in the career records. This is one of the unique aspects of the Aussies selectors. That’s why everyone admires their moves. Best examples are the sacking of Mark Waugh and Mathew Hayden. Undoubtedly they are doing a tremendous job as selectors. Another important thing is the financial back up they are providing for the players who are playing the domestic cricket. They are well rewarded and given some excellent training and fitness improving facilities. They are getting world-class facilities to train them themselves. Is that seems to be envious?
Coming back to India, do you think any of these types of moves have happened yet? Absolutely No. The dirty politics is happening in the board. They are just trying to make enough money from the board. As you all know, India is contributing 70% of ICC’s income. That’s why politicians are much interested in Cricket in India. And unfortunately for Indian Cricket, it’s bringing adverse effects only. Politics is not only affecting in selection process but also in all aspects of the game. Being the wealthy cricket board of the world, BCCI couldn’t even able to come up with a better financial back up system for the players. They couldn’t come up with a good fitness center for the team. Players are just relying on the various cricket academies run by various former cricketers and board is not ready to help them too. It’s high time to stop such ‘PAWAR’ plays inside the cricket board and save Indian Cricket. Otherwise the dream of becoming the best team in the world will always remain as a Dream!!!