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Sight Screen

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Selecting the selectors

Ruchir has done his usual comprehensive job on the round up, so can afford to slack off for now, and wait till fresh stories go up across the various platforms.
Meanwhile, parts of the Telegraph story -- and in fact, the recurring queries about the selection committee in other media outlets, made me think.
Separate the two points central to this debate, for a moment. Is the procedure adopted in picking selection committees correct? Does it make sense to have a committee with a tenure of just one year? I would think the answer to both is no -- so leave that aside, as part of a larger debate, and move to the present.
Even if Pranab Roy and the Sharmas (Yashpal and Gopal) were soft towards Sourav, they’d at least played cricket at the highest level.
Of their replacements, only North’s Bhupinder Singh (Sr) featured in a couple of ODIs, never quite coming into contention for a Test berth.
The other two, Sanjay Jagdale (Central) and East’s Ranjib Biswal, never got beyond the domestic first-class level.
Indeed, even among the old-timers — West’s Kiran More and V.B.Chandrasekhar (South) — the former alone has played both Tests and ODIs. Chandrasekhar had seven ordinary appearances in the sport’s chota version.
So, five men with a collective experience of 49 Tests (and 103 ODIs) sat in judgement over Sourav — somebody with over 15,000 runs in international cricket.
It’s laughable. Regrettable, too.

Actually, what to me is both laughable, and regrettable, is the fact that issues about the qualifications of a particular selection committee are raised only as part of an ad hominem attack when you want to query a particular decision. To underline my point, check this out -- here is a list of selection committee members (chairman's name in bold) starting with the 1995-'96 season:
1995-'96: G R Vishwanath, Kishen Rungta, Sambaran Bannerjee, MP Pandove and Anshuman Gaekwad (You will remember this as the committee that picked Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly for national duty; incidentally, you are all suitably impressed with the stellar Test and ODI records of Rungta, Bannerjee and Pandove, yes?)
1996-'97: Ramakant Desai, Rungta, Bannerjee, Pandove and Shivlal Yadav (The committee that installed Sachin Tendulkar as captain for the first time)
1997-'98: Desai, Rungta, Banerjee, Pandove, Yadav (The committee that sacked Tendulkar, giving 'Captaincy has affected his batting' as the reason, and reinstated Azharuddin, two weeks after the latter in Sharjah blotted his copybook so badly, even then secretary JY Lele called for his head. Did anyone at the time pause to wonder how many Tests and ODIs this panel had played, to sit in judgment on a Tendulkar in his prime?)
1998-'99: Ajit Wadekar, Shivlal Yadav, Ashok Malhotra, Madan Lal, AP Deshpande
1999-2000: Chandu Borde, TA Shekar, Ashok Malhotra, Madan Lal, AP Deshpande (The committee that, following Tendulkar's resignation on the heels of a 2-0 defeat by the Proteas at home, anointed Sourav Ganguly skipper.)
2000-'01: CG Borde, TA Sekar, Ashok Malhotra, Madan Lal, Sanjay Jagdale (How many articles in how many papers do you recall, from this time, questioning say Jagdale's qualifications to be selector?)
2001-'02: CG Borde, Shivlal Yadav, Ashok Malhotra, Madan Lal, Sanjay (that man again) Jagdale
2001-'02: Chandu Borde, Shivlal Yadav, Malhotra, Kiran Mre, Sanjay Jagdale
2002-'03: Brijesh Patel, Kirti Azad, Pranab Roy, Kiran More, Sanjay (what, again?) Jagdale (By being otherwise occupied, I must have missed all the heated articles questioning Pranab Roy's immense Test and ODI experience -- which amounts to all of two Tests and no ODIs?)
2003-'04: SMH Kirmani, Kirti Azad, Pranab Roy (encore), Kiran More, Sanjay (oh yes, again) Jagdale
2004-'05: Kiran More, Yashpal Sharma, Pranab Roy (take another bow), VB Chandrasekhar, Gopal Sharma (Anyone, anyone at all, remember anyone, anyone at all, questioning VB Chandrsekhar's claim to selectorial fame?)
2005-'06: Kiran More, Bhupinder Singh Jr, Ranjib Biswal, VB Chandrasekhar, Sanjay Jagdale

Point being? Simple -- our selection committees have invariably comprised gents without the paper qualifications to sit in judgement on players of the accomplishment of an Azhar (ignoring for the moment his off field activities here), Sachin, Sourav, Rahul, Kumble and such.
The More committee dropped the Karnataka leggie for the domestic ODI series against both Sri Lanka and South Africa despite a record that boasts more match winning performances especially at home than even Sachin, or Dravid, or Sourav; in his first outing this season, he has proved his current form with a match winning performance in Tests -- is this a good time to argue that after B Brijesh Patel and then Kirmani (both of whom got to serve just one year apiece) were 'sidelined', 'sacked', whatever, the committee developed a distinct anti-Karnataka bias?
Had we, when the Rungtas and the Pandoves and Banerjees and such were running riot (in the early days of this blog, I remember putting up archival stories of the games those various committees played, culled from Rediff) questioned the modus operandi of the selection, and composition, of our selection committees, we would not need to be asking these questions now.
Or put differently, accepting ill qualified selection committees as long as the decision suited a section of us smacks of finding a convenient stick.
PS: Have India Abroad work to do, and the major stories have been linked to anyways; so see you back in here, 3 pm or so.

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