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Sight Screen

Thursday, December 15, 2005

More on the selectors

In the Sportstar, S Dinakar does an exit interview with outgoing BCCI secretary SK Nair. Interesting on the whole; worth special attention is the bits about the selection committee:
It must have been a real task controlling selection committee meetings?
The selectors always took decisions in the best interests of the team and after looking into the players' performances and attitudes in international and domestic tournaments. The practice over the years has been to not record the minutes of the selection committee meetings, where threadbare discussions take place. The selectors use the opportunity to express their views in a free and frank manner. Nobody is suppressed. There have been heated discussions, but at the end of the day they arrive at a decision based on consensus. Even the selectors feel it's not necessary to record the proceedings.

But why? Historically, the national selection committee has come under fire for various acts of omission and commission. At no point, at least in my memory, has any committee chairman been able to counter criticism by logically arguing the case for the decisions concerned, by referencing the discussions at the selection meet and laying out the selectors' case. End result? Heartburn -- in incremental instalments as each fresh idiocy piles on the previous instances.
More prosaically put -- if the decisions are always taken in the best interests of the team, why not then record the minutes so you have proof to point to?
Do you think the captain and the coach need to be given the right to vote?
It's a debatable point. There are pros and cons to it. But an unfortunate development of recent times has been that the deliberations in the selection committee meetings have come into the public domain. I don't doubt the integrity of the selectors, but what's happening is not good for them. Even though the minutes are not recorded, discussions that happened on vital issues in the selection committee meetings have come out into the open. After the Abhijit Kale incident, the BCCI prepared a code of conduct for the selectors. One crucial point is that nobody has any proof of the source from where information is leaking, including Greg Chappell's observations emailed to the BCCI. This is precisely the reason why the voting right to the captain and coach is a debatable issue, because people will come to know who has favoured whom.

Specious argument if ever there was one. How did leakages from within the board morph into a reason to deny voting rights to coach and captain anyways? The logical leap here is beyond me: Selectors are men of integrity; there have been leaks; we don't know who is leaking; ergo, no point allowing the captain and coach to vote.
As to the last bit -- people will come to know who has favored whom? -- why does the Board always believe that secrecy is preferable to open-ness? Which would you rather have -- people knowing what the truth is or, as now, making up their own minds and blaming the situation on Chappell, Dravid, Pawar, More, Manmohan Singh, whoever?
Do you think it would be advisable to make split decisions of the selectors public in the light of what happened recently when Kiran More said it was a unanimous decision to pick Sourav Ganguly for the Test series?
Kiran More clarified in a few lines why player `X' was not considered for captaincy. But the situation had changed the next day when the selectors met to select the team for the first Test against Sri Lanka. In situations when the arguments of the selectors vary in the matter of selecting a particular player, efforts are made to arrive at a general consensus following a majority decision. No dissent is recorded at the meetings. Unless a division is recorded, how can the Chairman of Selectors make an announcement that it was a 4-1 or a 3-2 decision?

Again, the obvious question is, why is dissent not recorded? What exactly scares the BCCI about airing healthy debates? Dissent does not, in and of itself, become a problem -- heck, dissenting opinions, written and aired, are common at the highest levels of jurisprudence; however, the fact that say one judge or two dissented does not invalidate the majority decision by say a Supreme Court. What is with this desperate desire to present a 'united' front anyways -- when the division within is patently obvious?

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