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Sight Screen

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Selection committee archives

Was thinking (I really should stop thinking of cricket when I am editing news copy, but anyways) of all this discussion about the selection committee, and its various doings. On a whim, went into the Rediff archives and dug around -- and these are what I found, first crack out of the box:
1. Will Mr Desai stand up and be counted?
2. The politics of silence
And finally, sadly -- I remember how damned difficult it was to write it at the time -- , this: Ramakant Desai, rest in peace
Why all this, now? Because nothing has really changed, nothing really will. For instance, remember this bit in Anand Vasu's column?
One former selector, who obviously did not want to be named, told this correspondent that often, the whole team was picked before the actual selection meeting. He served at a time when the chairman of selectors was a man with strong, if occasionally eccentric views, and to ensure that he did not sour the plans, the other four met furtively - often in airport coffee shops at the city the where the selection meeting was to take place- and decided what adjustments needed to be made. Then it was a matter of going to the meeting and voting the right majorities for the right players.

With that in the forefront, check out this bit, from my RIP column:
Immediately behind the nets, engaged in animated conversation, were Shivlal Yadav, Kishen Rungta, Sambaran Bannerjee and M Pandove, four of the five national selectors. A little distance away, alone and isolated, sat Ramakant Desai, chairman of the national selection committee.

See what I mean?
Guys in the comment field were asking what if anything the likes of Wright and Ganguly, and lately Chappell, have managed to do. Plenty -- they have, or had till recently, managed to ensure that the committee didn't produce some of the more outrageous rabbits in their zonal hats.
It helped that Wright was outspoken; it helped too that Ganguly could go over the heads of the committee to the real boss, when he thought something done needed to be undone. And thus, in their own ways, they managed to largely -- if not entirely -- trump the committee.
The trouble though is, to take on the selectors, your own authority needs to be unquestioned. And once Saurav's form began to be an issue; once the meeting of minds between him and Wright began to sour, the selectors found the wedge they needed, to return things to status quo ante.
The onus now is right back on Chappell and Saurav, or whoever the long term captain is, to re-draw lines that were firmly drawn, and firmly held, for a part of the Wright-Ganguly era.
Update: On the blog, someone asked how come journalists don't point out all this. As you can see from the above, we do. Did. With what result? The board clamped down. No more questions, came the rule.
Ironic, really -- you can question the prime minister and president of India. But not the board, not the chairman of selectors, not the secretary. Want to know why? Because they can't answer. Of many many instances of what happened after the board clamped down, check this out.


  • thanks Prem for clearing that. As I said, I could feel the change, a return to sensibility during the height of Ganguly-Wright era. And you dropped another pearl of a hint there..."once the meeting of minds between him and Wright began to sour" - more on this sometime ?

    And GC does seem to be strong enough to pull it off, just needs some time to establish the chemistry with the captain(whoever that turns out to be) but the fear is that if its not Saurav, then where would the extra power to bypass the selection committee come from ?

    By Blogger worma, at 16:17  

  • Oh, GC is smart. Last time, he was hung up on the money and perks he would need. This time, the one point he insisted on, and which the BCCI fought long and hard over before giving in, was that he reserved the right to write opinion pieces in the media, with no conditions imposed. I pointed out then that he was doing what various industrialists like Reliance and the Singhanias did when they started or bought newspapers -- procuring a handy, sharp sword to hold over the government's, or in this case, the BCCI's, head if it didn't behave :-)

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 16:20  

  • And btw, I have never seen Desai wearing a fancy watch, in case some of you guys were wondering. *L*
    Now back to work.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 16:20  

  • Prem,
    I actually tried looking through your past articles to see if they would be of help. But my search criteria was different. Thanks for letting nothing be vague

    By Blogger Toney, at 16:21  

  • yeah...but the BCCI is not that wary of the media, are they. Not unless their insider stories are being spread around. I wonder if GC would do that. But more importantly, what if Dravid or someone besides Saurav is the captain. Sure we all know that the secret for good functioning of Saurav-Wright management team was Dalmiya link, that you also mentioned. What happens when that is not there ?

    By Blogger worma, at 16:23  

  • whats keeping Wright from opening his mouth? If he has the interest of Indian cricket at heart (as he says he does), he would do well to expose the wheeling and dealings that pass for selection meetings.

    By Blogger Tiger, at 16:32  

  • hmmm...:-)
    I remember, i wasnt familiar with rediff until the mid of 99..when I got to US..

    All these are stuff that never made the print dailies in India..

    Interesting and pretty sic too..reading all this stuff....it would have been then..but now itz just plain amusement..

    All this leads me to believe...U need someone as thick headed as Ganguly..to get one across them...

    Not sure if Dravid can handle it or if any of the present set has the capability to out do the board - which is Dalmiya...

    By Blogger Ginkgo, at 16:34  

  • If Wright comes out with the truth,
    Jaggu will send goondas to smack the crap out of Wright

    By Blogger Poondu, at 16:34  

  • This might sound drastic but how about holding a nationwide election to select our 15 member squad for a period of 5 years(continuity). If a democratic election can be considered good for administering the country then why can't it be applied to selecting the best team.

    Allright..allright, I guess its the anticipation of the long party weekend getting to me :-)

    By Blogger Mr. V, at 16:35  

  • tiger,,
    wait for his autobiography.

    By Blogger MAHER, at 16:39  

  • mr v i can bet you that Dalmiya would win that election too :-))

    By Blogger worma, at 16:39  

  • Prem, I just re-read these articles again. I shouldnt have as they made me sick again. Wonder what the first class cricketers in India think about all this.

    By Blogger Sandeep Nalgundwar, at 16:46  

  • Prem,
    you just made me sick in the stomach. I read through all those previous articles and while everyone was always aware of the infighting, politics etc, I was not aware of the extent to which this happened. Sad for Desai too.
    I remember the SRT walking out episode but boy, he did receive a bad deal, right? And I am sure, if SRT was not SRT, he would have lost his place in the team along with the captaincy too....

    Right now, I am going to take a break. One reaosn being that your set of links makes me feel cheated, the next one being the injustice done to a lot of people and the third ebeing, I have to finish a lot of work and there's so little time to do that.

    By Blogger Toney, at 16:49  

  • toney you're right about sachin loosing his place. he just kept being 'too good to drop' amidst all this...and maybe the mad fan following (that we so deplore) actually helped keeping the pressure on selectors not to ignore him.
    btw this reminds me of the story that sachin was made to open in ODIs in the hope of 'getting rid of him' or atleast with a hope of failure. Wonder if that one was also true ? Anyway, those were nightmare times, and thankfully we have progressed atleast a little from them on.

    By Blogger worma, at 16:54  

  • I also remember once prem mentioning that he had a word with SRT on taking a tough stance on those selection blunders. Prem kind of suggested SRT that if he is not satisifed with the team, he should have decided against playing a particular series. Given his stature and the resultant public outcry would have made the selectors see reason. But expectedly SRT chickened out with a response on the lines of "It doesnt work like that yaar"

    By Blogger sachin, at 17:07  

  • worma:
    I hope I don't have to see the day Jaggu dada puts on his pads and ventures into the field :-)
    As for Sachin being made to open to get rid of him, well if I remember correctly he first opened in NZ and that was very early in his career, so I don't think he was part of the politicking at that time.

    By Blogger Mr. V, at 17:07  

  • ah Worma, unfortunately, I dont think so..

    The same thing is happening to Zaheer and Balaji..

    and before that it was to Nehra ...

    Looks like Pathan has done something good in his prev life..
    or maybe he is the flavor of the moment..

    By Blogger Ginkgo, at 17:08  

  • mr v sachin was a veteran of 5 years in international cricket when he opened in Nz. He was not part of politicking, but others saw him as a 'clean' person, who was very good at his job and was fast becoming popular beyond their reach.

    oh and btw, all those old stories from Prem makes me appeciate the Ganguly-Wright contribution to Indian cricket so much more. I only wish that GC turns out as strong as Wright...and whoever the captain who works with him, is able to carry it forward.

    By Blogger worma, at 17:10  

  • ginkgo didnt get you ?

    By Blogger worma, at 17:12  

  • oh I was referring to your comment "we have progressed beyond all that"

    I was saying, we are still very much in the game of musical chairs :-)

    By Blogger Ginkgo, at 17:16  

  • Sachin:
    I agree with Prem that SRT should have just resigned from the team and gone public with all this. He just chickened out by saying "It doesnt work like that yaar". The thing with these "bunch of jokers" is that one has to call their bluff and SRT was in a great position to do this, the selectors wouldn't have dared to drop him from the team coz that would have surely caused large scale rioting and arson in the country :-) and who knows the selectors themselves would have probably got lynched in broad daylight by an angry blood thirsty mob.
    This is where I think SG-Wright were able to take on the selectors head on, ofcourse the patronage of a certain Jaggu dada helped in the cause.

    By Blogger Mr. V, at 17:19  

  • Tonight, we will again be arguing about the team composition, who should bowl first change, whether Sehwag played a stupid shot or not and then try to figure out how to improve the results of the team based on how the play. The more I think (which doesnt happen too often these days), the more I see the similarities with Golf - my current favourite sport.

    Following is an exerpt from a golf instruction -
    "The reason golfers fail to improve is because they try to correct the result, not the fault. The correct way to get better is to analyze backwards and correct forwards. Analyze in this order:
    Ball Flight
    Contact On The Clubface
    Clubface Path
    Clubface Angle
    Body Motion
    Set Up Position
    Then correct in reverse order.
    This is the Master Plan to organized, logical and simple improvement. If you correct your set-up position and body motion, the club movement, and therefore ball flight, improves. Unfortunately most golfers look to the results, like poor balance, to improve."

    All these incidents and stories firms up my belief that the entire system needs a overhaul. I know it is difficult to change status-quo but one can dream...right?

    By Blogger Sandeep Nalgundwar, at 17:20  

  • gingko thats why i said that thankfully we have progressed atleast a little from then on. Read the main post of Prem...he also mentions that
    Guys in the comment field were asking what if anything the likes of Wright and Ganguly, and lately Chappell, have managed to do. Plenty -- they have, or had till recently, managed to ensure that the committee didn't produce some of the more outrageous rabbits in their zonal hats.
    It helped that Wright was outspoken; it helped too that Ganguly could go over the heads of the committee to the real boss, when he thought something done needed to be undone. And thus, in their own ways, they managed to largely -- if not entirely -- trump the committee.

    Also that waning power of ganguly is showing signs of return to those days, only signs yet. Thats why, here in this comment chain, we were discussing the capabilities of GC in this regards as compared to Wright and what were the ways possible.

    If you read Prem's linked articles (and remember those times when anyone, even someone like Kambli or Dravid or Mongia or Azhar, was dropped without any explanations to media, then you see we have progressed a little. For example can you imagine that the selectors would get away with dropping Sehwag, or Laxman(tests) or Bhajji etc without any sound reason explained to media and public, and get away with it ?)

    By Blogger worma, at 17:22  

  • mr v...your right..the patronage of Dalmiya helped a lot (as Prem mentioned in the main post). Thats why I sometimes fear..when people happily discuss the ousting of Dalmiya here...that if and when that really happens...those dark ages may return :-)

    By Blogger worma, at 17:24  

  • Worma:
    So did Azzu mian ask SRT to open the innings, thinking that SRT being a middle order bat won't be able to counter the new ball and after a string of poor scores, SRT's dropping can be justified.
    Talk of plans gone awry :-)

    By Blogger Mr. V, at 17:24  

  • and also mr v read this article . Sachin did speak out his mind to the press, had to pay the price. And no lynch mob attacked the BCCI honchos, btw

    By Blogger worma, at 17:27  

  • Worma:
    I agree with you. Dalmiya might not be a saint but he is the best we have got. The alternative is too scary, BCCI headed by a Dungarpur or a Muttaih? or god forbid a certain Mr. Pawar or Mr Jaitley?

    By Blogger Mr. V, at 17:28  

  • mr v thats what I've heard about sachin's opening. Not exactly that sachin was unwilling, but the background thinking of the then 'team management' was on those lines as you said. Its been a long time, dont remember where I read it, rediff/indian-sites were not around then. Maybe as a later story by some 'ex' speaking to 'save the game' as prem's article said !

    By Blogger worma, at 17:29  

  • Pawar is more likely. Please be scared, all. Very scared :-)

    By Blogger worma, at 17:30  

  • mr v : after reading that article (I linked above just now) about the plot to sack sachin my opinion is that sachin was spot on when he said 'it doesnt work that way yaar' !

    By Blogger worma, at 17:35  

  • Worma:
    I disagree, SRT made a mistake by not taking the selection committee head on. He should have gone public in 1997 when he didn't get the team he wanted. Talking to a couple of reporters off the record doesn't count.You strike when the Iron is hot and do it openly.
    The selectors just bid their time, they knew that public memory is short and after a few losses (fixed matches???), SRT would not just be mentally worn out but will also not have the blind backing of the Indian public.
    SRT for all his humility and dedication and honesty didn't have the balls/guts to take on the selectors and no I don't hold this against him, it's just his nature.
    It takes a street fighter to take on these rogues(read selectors) and sometimes one has to bend the rules to correct the wrongs.

    By Blogger Mr. V, at 17:38  

  • Saying 'it doesnt work that way yaar' is just a defeatist mentality.

    By Blogger Mr. V, at 17:40  

  • Prem, thanks for answering.
    Got the point. However, isn't there something more media could do about this blatant non-professional, non-accountable selector and selection process used by BCCI? I mean, all the followers, fans, journos, players, ex-players are fed up with this. Something needs to be done rather than just ranting!!!!
    (But again, thats just too wishful perhaps! - how can I forget the Chandrachud report and how BCCI can get away with it. BCCI can get away with anything.)

    By Blogger Anand K, at 17:48  

  • mr.v. thats life.. all the good things dont come packaged in one individual.

    By Blogger sachin, at 17:49  

  • well its a defeatest mentality if he says it without trying. he had faced it. as mentioned in that article...they did all the background politics to get him out of the system, despite him being national icon. and they succeeded in pulling of the grand coup. that shows how the whole thing works. its not as if the negative comments on his sacking appeared in rediff only. they were in mainstream media.....a huge majority of fans bought the BCCI line..."yes his batting form is getting affected...thats why he's relieved". So, that worked.

    Now the only thing left was to go on a 'strike' against BCCI and call an open press conf. Sure that would have worked for a while. They would have conceded, took him back...given him his choices...then again worked on the background to pull off some such thing. Because thats what they are there for, thats their 'day job' ! Its not sachin's job to keep fighting battles against administrators. Why, when he was sacked, didnt the entire nation realise that this was not due to his batting failures (I remember he kept saying that his batting has not suffered due to captaincy, showed his records...even in second stint, no-one listened!) and take up the issue on a bigger scale ?

    By Blogger worma, at 17:49  

  • Was Dalmia as powerful during the times these article were written? I think Dalmia and Bindra did more good to Indian cricket than bad. I mean if he Jaggu is so biased why more guys from his zone(East) are not playing for India?
    And sure Dalmia isnt a saint if he was he would have been singing bhajan in Himalayas not running a comparatively successful association.

    By Blogger Vick, at 17:50  

  • vick...dalmiya was ICC chairman (after a long stint at BCCI top job) during those days. I think his bias now has gone beyond regional politics to the business part of the game. With Ganguly, Wright strongly backing their players, Dalmiya has left the 'playing' part of cricket to these guys (and to selectors...with his, ganguly provoked, intervention done if needed). Sure he's not a saint. Who says ? far from it man.

    By Blogger worma, at 17:58  

  • Worma:
    Ofcourse, SRT tried his best but he didn't have it in him to counter these bastards. The way to fight with these selectors is to always be one up on them, its like a chess game, try to anticipate their next move and counter it.
    Thats why SG was successful he doesn't always play by the rules and not just in dealing with the selectors but also the way he plays Cricket. Can you imagine, SRT turning up late for the toss? Fletcher & Vaughan are doing the same with Ponting & co regarding the substitutes thing, they know that it irritates the aussies, so all the more reason to do it and look at the way the aussies are crying about "upholding the spirit of the game"...my ass.
    Yeh kalyug hai mere bhai, thats why people like SRT are best left to play and enjoy their game than get into the muck of running the sport. Every man has his utility. Thats why I think RD wouldn't be a good choice, he is too nice & gentlemanly to handle these kinds of people, Sehwag on the other hand can really take them on.

    By Blogger Mr. V, at 18:11  

  • so what do you expect from SRT. He's a great batsmen. Has a great mind for the game and its associated aspects. Why try to necessarily look for other qualities. Anyway, I do agree that he doesnt have enough 'dirtiness' in him, neither does Dravid. Ganguy has it, maybe Sehwag (give him more time...he shud first rise beyond the 'reach' of selectors...as Dravid, Sachin have done). Btw I dont think even Ganguly could have pulled it off without Dalmiya's 'ashirwaad' :-)....so anyone else who plans to do it, he needs to make a similar support base in some power center.
    ..aaghh...dirty games, as you said.. :-)

    By Blogger worma, at 18:20  

  • Isnt Lalloo Prasad yadav also in contention to one day become the BCCI president? That would do it for me. On the other hand, we should be grateful that inspite of such things, we get to see guys like Sachin playing for India.

    By Blogger Tiger, at 18:25  

  • There is no continuity in the selection of players due to this zonal selection crap.

    The BCCI's way of functioning has to be changed. It is pathetic what this jokers are doing to the fans and players.

    No wonder India sucks at cricket.

    By Blogger AA, at 18:28  

  • worma:
    Don't get me wrong, like I said before, I don't hold it against SRT that he didn't want to get into the mud to fight these people and with time he did realise that the best thing to do is stay away from all this, that's how his second stint ended after the Aussie tour and the SA home series, he gave up the captaincy voluntarily, I guess he must have thought "Enough is enough, I just want to play & enjoy my game and do well for my country, I don't want to get involved in all these shady dirty dealings with these scumbags, hopefully some one else will come up and do a better job at fighting with the selectors".
    and you are right about building base in a power center, a good chess player always develops his pieces first.

    By Blogger Mr. V, at 18:30  

  • unrelated topic - but thought its worth.

    The first para in this article on cricinfo - http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/engvaus/content/story/217755.html

    "Katich received a bad lbw decision in the second innings from Aleem Dar, but as he left the field he watched his dismissal on the replay screen, which is not allowed under ICC regulations, and then swore loudly in the pavilion enclosure."

    So If I read clearly, a batsman gets out, is unsure what exactly happened, walks back, the whole world is watching the replays, behold!!! the poor batsman should not watch the replay screen.
    Wow! this ICC rule even topples the "must appeal" rule in incongruity!
    (I am not all sympathetic to Katich here. Infact he and RP got away very lightly).
    Someone needs to dig out more of the rule and validate what the reporter is saying.
    But if its what it seems, isn't it ridiculous? (to put it mildly).

    By Blogger Anand K, at 18:30  

  • If the national team faces so much politicking under so much media scrutiny, can you guys believe what it is like at the grassroots level, at the U-16, at the U-14 level.
    I had first hand experience when i went into some U-16 selections. Man, that was a mess and a reason why i gave up on a cricket playing career. Can we look for bigger reasons why a nation of a billion people cannot produce a handful of champions?
    Well, all this brings back bad memories. signing off.

    By Blogger heartbroken_cricketer, at 18:41  

  • It was nice to read the articles, though it left a bad taste. Can anyone please tell me who all made it to the team for the Asia Cup in 97'?
    On a positive note, I hope we can get rid of choosing selectors by region. But, I know this will not be happening anytime soon. Also a minimum number of tests/one dayers would be required as a criteria for becoming a selector. That would probably restrict the selection panel to the likes of Gavaskar, Vengsarkar, Amarnath, Wadekar, Kapil, Sandeep Patil, Venkatraghavan, Prasanna, Vishwanath etc.. These players would have probably made enough money so they would not play games for the sake of making bucks. If regional voting is ruled out, politics will hopefully reduce too.
    Did anyone read the article about the additional security provided to Azhar? Hmm what interest would the gangsters have when Azhar is no longer in a powerful position. Maybe something is happening we dont know of.
    Anyone want to throw some light...

    By Blogger Vins, at 18:51  

  • Varma,
    I think Jaggu was ICC chairman around 2000. All these stories are of around 96-97. What was he at that time? I know he has been involved in BCCI since India hold the 87 world cup. But i am not sure if he was all that powerful. Also there has always been another faction. And ppl like Dungarpur had as much power as Jaggu.

    By Blogger Vick, at 18:52  

  • Hmm what interest would the gangsters have when Azhar is no longer in a powerful position. Maybe something is happening we dont know of.

    >>May be fixing the games Sania is playing. I have read he is close to her. And the way her matches been going up and down after every serve i wouldnt be surprised.
    Kuchh bhi ho sakta hai....

    By Blogger Vick, at 18:56  

  • vick check out this story..reposting one of prem's link again here This mentions Dalmiya as ICC chairman at the time of Desai politicking.

    By Blogger worma, at 18:57  

  • All these 'This Story" make me sad.
    Even when I compared Tendulkar and take over by Ganguly that made a difference now cast doubt in my mind.

    all this and that..'just for a few dollars more?'

    Having difficulty believing that Tendulkar could also be manipulated and kept quite! Person with highest clout in the country in cricket and some moer!

    By Blogger CrickTip, at 22:19  

  • Still, it is night and another morning tomorrow, another match tomorrow, and Hope in the Heart.

    By Blogger CrickTip, at 22:21  

  • Cricktip:
    Its Hope that makes his Live & Enjoy life.
    Surely we will finally win the Finals. :-)

    By Blogger Mr. V, at 23:18  

  • I hadn't read these articles before reading them now...and the stuff just wrenched my heart out!! It was always clear that SRT was given a raw deal...but the extent to which it was taken to leaves me shell-shocked! But I'm glad that I'm now aware of these incidents...my enormous respect for SRT just doubled...and once again these articles highlight the significance of the SG-Wright-RD combo...hats off to these gentlemen!

    By Blogger rp, at 01:12  

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