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Sight Screen

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The news in briefs

Sachin Tendulkar will coach at Lord's, as part of the tsunami relief efforts. John Wright heard from, on Tendulkar and other members of the Indian team. John weighs in, too, on the need for more a professional selection commitee.
The first story is PR; the second is more of the same. It is the third that is worth focussing on -- Wright has been harping on this theme with good reason. Time and again, he has found his recommendations, and that of the captain, over-ruled or ignored by selectors who presume they know best. It has been, for him, a four-year battle to get Indian selectors to do the right thing.
Thus, it is no secret that the selectors did not want Harbhajan Singh in the Test side to face the Aussies under Steve Waugh; in fact, they did not want Bajji in the side, period.
The reason why? When the offie was in the National Cricket Academy, he once -- along with Murali Kartik -- protested the diet on offer which, he said with very good reason, was clearly inadequate for a sportsperson; he and Kartik at Javagal Srinath's invitation played a charity game on a Sunday, which in any case was his off day.
All this was enough reason to earn him the 'indisciplined' tag, and for the selectors to want to blackball him. It was Wright, in tandem with Ganguly and a couple of the other seniors, who put their foot down on the issue and got Bajji in the side. Similar battles have been fought over others, including Virender Sehwag -- the selectors at one point thought he was too chancy to be worth a Test team.
Does having a professional selection committee alone ensure against stupidity? Not really -- but the corollary of 'professional' is 'accountable'. And that is the real problem with the existing selection structure -- the national selectors are not accountable, period.
They make their mistakes, the team suffers, the public loses interest, players find their careers in ruins... but at no time do the five wise men ever have to face questioning (in fact, when the selectors found they couldn't face the media's questions, they came up with a new rule -- no more press conferences when teams were picked; the secretary would announce the names, and that was that).
When India seeks professionalism in all other aspects -- contracted players, contracted coach and physio and physical trainer (with a couple more back-room boys to come) -- why not in this? Why not a three-member panel of professional, contracted selectors, with the captain and coach making up the remaining two voting members?


  • In the case of Bhajji perior to that Aussie series, it was ONLY one person who was responsible for bringing him to the team and that person goes by the name of one SOURAV GANGULY. It's not like how you have mentioned. This has been confirmed by many sources over the past 3-4 years. Even Bhajji himself has said it. Get it Prem - the name is Sourav Ganguly aka Dada.

    By Anonymous Jai, at 11:21  

  • Uh oh! Jay, you are welcome to turn every post, every story ever written, into a Saurav Ganguly bulletin board. For my part, I will write what I know is fact; if I don't know something for a fact I will not write it. And when and if I do write anything at all, there is no gun held to anyone's head, insisting that it be accepted. Fair enough? Can we put an end to the sniping now?

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 12:00  

  • Isn't there any damn thing we, the Indian people, could do about the selectors? We have been talking and typing millions of words on this but is there anything we could do to rid ourselves of these 'bunch of jokers'??? I understand the BCCI is not a govt. body but a private entity. Does that give it a right to do anything it pleases, considering the team represents the country? I had read sometime back some BCCI official saying that technically the Indian Team is a BCCI Team. Is that right? Can't the govt. of India set down some policies and fix this?
    If we are a country that considers cricket as close to religion as possible, we should have some way or correcting this. How can the selectors not be accountable? Why can't some business heads take this over or put a professional organization out there that runs the team professionally?

    By Anonymous Mag, at 12:03  

  • Jai,

    What's with the attitude dude? Prem had made it clear that neither is he pro or anti Ganguly. He justs states the facts the way he sees them. Dude, go get a chill pill.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:12  

  • Hey Sriraj,
    What is has to do with being pro or anti Ganguly? I just mentioned what I know is a FACT. I have the right to state the FACTS that I know, alright? If you don't want to believe it, it's your problem. Stop lecturing others, just comment on the original post and move on.

    By Anonymous Jai, at 12:29  

  • Prem,
    Can you care to explain how and when I turned every post and every story into a Ganguly bulletin board? You mentioned an incident which I happened know from a different angle from different sources and I thought I should mention it. So are you suggesting that although there's no gun held to anyone's head, any comment that is opposite to your views are not welcome either? If that's the case, tell us and may be some of us will stop commenting altogether on your blogs.

    By Anonymous Jai, at 12:36  

  • Oh damn! Firstly, I'd rather this blog not become a theater for absurd squabbles; I had enough of that while writing regularly for Rediff. Secondly, Jai, if you know for a FACT that Saurav Ganguly, alone, solo, backed Bajji and fought with the selectors for his inclusion in that side, if you know for a FACT that no one else -- not Rahul, not Anil Kumble and not John Wright -- was party to that fight, cool, friend, enough said. It ends here for me

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 12:37  

  • No Jay... I believe in your honesty, and in that of everyone else who posts on here; I believe people say what they genuinely believe, and if I didn't want that, I wouldn't have started this exercise in the first place. Perhaps my comment was out of turn -- what I said, was in this context only: In course of a post on how selectors function, I mentioned an incident I knew about, because I was there (not inside the selection room, no -- the heated argument actually took place outside) when it happened. From that perspective, I knew who was there, and wrote it. That said, you may know something different, that is fine too. What I meant -- and this is all I meant -- was that the post was about the selection committee, not about Saurav and whether I give credit where due, so when I saw that comment, I was disappointed, and expressed it. As to whether or no comments are welcome -- this gadget, I notice, gives me a few options: I can block all comments; I can accept only from a known circle or from Blog users, or I can make it open to all. I chose the third option with reason -- I am accustomed to inviting comment, not rejecting it; always have been, always will be. And hopefully, nothing more needs to be said on this subject. Cheers

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 12:55  

  • The question is how do you make the selectors accountable. Basic principle is that you gotta reward the selectors who pick the winners and demote the selectors who pick them too early and the bad ones.
    For example: Who picked Sehwag? He should be made chairman of the selection committee? Who picked Devang Gandhi, he should be dropped from the committee.
    Anyway, the only way this can be done is through internal book keeping by the BCCI and the Chairman of the selection committee. Nobody else has the power. The selection has to be an autonomous process, you can't have the public weighing in on the selection. But, the selectors are nominated by the board and the board itself is back stabbing enterprise, then what hope can we have for a professional selection committee. Right now, only Dalmiya can do it, because only he wields enough power to change the BCCI. But does he want to even try this? What if he fails, it will ruin his legacy.

    By Blogger nish_the_dish, at 13:43  

  • Nish,

    One swallow does not maketh the summer (so much so for my Victorian/Shakespearain English).

    This is like picking stocks (you win some, you lose some). The issue is not individual picks (like, our stud boy Jai, who KNOWS who picked Ganguly) -- the key criterion is a pattern -- consistency, average performances, net-net if the choices were a plus or a minus. I'd judge a selection committee over a period of time (12-18 months?), not on individual picks. We don't want heroes, we want winners.

    Radical suggestion -- why not have a Rediff/Ceat/Wisden ratings system for selection committees? We have enough statistical gurus out there to determine the parameters of performance of these selection committees?



    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 14:24  

  • Sriraj,
    I don't want it to be a mud slining match between two responders. This forum I think mainly should be in response to Prem's blog. So better be careful with your words. If you want to be mean to me or want to argue with me, let's do that through emails or chat. I don't want to encourage you any further on this forum. But don't make the mistake of taking it as my weakness. Alright?

    By Anonymous Jai, at 16:28  

  • Are the current selectors the best of their kind? Some peoples' hunches are a lot better- or so it would appear. On the other hand, they could be using a better selection model! There are those who are impressed by a couple of great picks, but I think a Board looking for a professional selector would want a reliable and reproduceable method.

    Harbhajan Singh was an exciting talent at a young age because he could bowl the doosra. It certainly made Kumble gush with praise at seeing his doorsas and more. Sehwag is a remarkable player- one of its kind in Indian cricket. And a remarkable attitude to go with it. It takes a special player to pull it off.

    All successful players have inner strengths. They know what it takes to be successful. eg. Irfan Pathan shows those qualities. They understand their game (and each player is different). They take advice but the buck stops with them and they find their own solutions and are invariable right.

    I regret the public are very impatient with allrounders. They take a lot longer to mature but should be blooded sooner rather than later, providing they can bowl effectively.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 16:29  

  • accoutability is the most important thing. And selectors along with the coach, captain and the players should be accoutable. i.e. if you are thinking about sacking the coach or captain for lack of leadership, then selectors position should also be questioned. If they are thinking about dropping Ganguly on form its another thing, but when selectors sacked Tendulkar from captaincy for not producing results, they were as much responsible (Noel David, Debang Gandhi, Vikram Rathore etc).
    No one can say that you will get your pick right every time. But there has to be a cricketing reason for selecting and dropping players.
    For last 2 seasons, selecting Indian team was easy because you could argue for only 3-4 spots out of 14. Now, with Laxman's form deserting him, Ganguly having a poor run, and Sachin injured, they will need to select some new guys and give them a fair run or if they decide to stick with the senioor guys, they will have to keep a timeframe in mind about how many more chances they deserve. And thats where they should be held accoutable for consistency.
    Questions like what are they going to do with Karthik. (I think he is a very good batsman, and he produced a match winning innings in a test match. Which is probbaly as important as the innings which Dhoni played in one-dayers) Who is going to open with Sehwag isn one-dayers. If our fast-bowlers are not delivering, what are the choices we have etc.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 17:42  

  • interesting - backing Bajji was one of the few things Ganguly was consistently given credit for - now he has to share it with Wright and some anonymous "seniors" - bah!

    i know, it is not the point of the article but then, hard to ignore such "objectivity" :P

    By Anonymous chatura, at 18:40  

  • Greg Chappell will play safe. He can rehabilitate Laxman, H Singh and Z Khan. The Pace attack will be adequate for tests, esp if Balaji and Pathan can take their games further.

    Dropping Ganguly will be a very hot issue, even for selectors. The new superpowered committee could do that but it may not choose to. Removing the captaincy from Ganguly may be worthwhile if only to take away the stresses on his game.

    Dhoni is a certainty for the ODIs because of his batting (hitting ability)- he could play as a batsman! Chappell may want to give him the experience of tests as well. Dinesh Kaarthick would be unlucky but not forgotten. The experience would have been a good one to work on.

    Chappell has intimated that Y Singh and Kaif are novices in tests (ODI experience may count for little). Here is my criteria for a middle order bat:

    1. Good on tough conditions, all conceivable difficulties.
    2. Mentally tough, intelligent, quick learner. Enjoys batting.
    3. Plays according to the situation
    4. Mature, with excellent FC history. Has the endurance to score big.
    5. Natural stroke maker but can play within himself.

    ODI? Who knows.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19:04  

  • In one of the replies to Jai's comments, Prem mentioned that Anil Kumble besides Dravid and Wright being were party to fight with the selectors. Does not it sound unbelievable? Kumble was not part of that series due to injury. So how and when could he possibly fight with the selectors over Bhajji's inclusion?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19:19  

  • Good memory, whoever left that last comment on Kumble being injured. Stretch that memory a bit -- I think you'll recall that the Indian team asked Kumble to be present at the coaching camp, to work with the bowlers. If *my* memory serves, Kumble's injury only meant he couldn't bowl -- don't recall that injury as having hurt his mouth much. Oh BTW... it was also during this injury lay off that he did much of the work on the contract system presentation the seniors made to the board. Not that 'unbelievable' -- at least, not unless you are actively looking for holes. :-)

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 23:22  

  • Hi Anonymous Sriraj,

    I agree with you and I will restate my observation. One good pick should not warrant an appointment as the Chief of the Selection Committee. Consistent good picks should be valued, and rewarded with more responsibilty. I was only trying to point out that we do have a few good selectors and we should retain them on the panel, instead of throwing themout after their term expires. Selection is not an easy task.


    By Blogger nish_the_dish, at 15:38  

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