The announcement of the National Selection Committee by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has raised a few eyebrows. Names of potential candidates from the five zones of India were doing the rounds weeks before N Srinivasan, the president of the BCCI revealed the chosen ones.
Followers and pundits of the game were taken by surprise when former India player Sandeep Patil, representing West Zone was declared Chairman of the new committee. The other members are Roger Binny (South Zone), Vikram Rathour (North Zone), Syed Saba Karim (East Zone) and Rajinder Singh Hans (Central Zone).
The sacking of Mohinder ‘Jimmy’ Amarnath who represented North Zone just a year after his appointment has left a sour taste in the mouths of many cricketers, including his former team mates who felt that he was a victim of intrigue. Rumour mills are agog with stories about him having a row with Krishnamachari Srikkanth over captaincy issues; North Zone representatives being miffed with Jimmy’s absence for matches and the BCCI not being happy that he presented the willow used by his father, Lala Amarnath to an Australian museum.
Whatever the reasons, it is sad that Jimmy got shoddy treatment from the BCCI. He is one of our finest and gutsiest cricketers who has never had a stable relationship with the BCCI. If one takes a look at his record, one will find huge holes in his cricketing timeline and realise that he should have ended up with 100 plus Tests like his peers Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar and Kapil Dev, instead of 69 Test matches he ended playing.
The fact that Patil’s credentials cannot be questioned, as stated clearly by the BCCI president and that the body had selected a ‘new look’ committee are clear signs that the BCCI is gearing up to face the challenges of the future.
Seeing the present situation, it is imperative for the new committee to take some tough calls. The present team of selectors can look back in time to see what their predecessors had done in 1971 and 1990.
It was the casting vote of Vijay Merchant that appointed Ajit Wadekar as captain, in early 1971, over the established skipper Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.
Wadekar left for the West Indies with some experienced soldiers like M.L. Jaisimha, Dilip Sardesai and Salim Durrani and exciting raw talent like Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanth and Eknath Solkar.
“Miyan, captaan banoge?” is what Raj Singh Dungarpur had asked Mohammad Azharuddin to signal start the ‘team of the nineties.’ Raj bhai and Naren Tamhane, the chief strategist, took some bold decisions and introduced Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble while keeping experienced maestros like Kapil, Amarnath, Vengsarkar and Ravi Shastri in control.
It was during the tenure of the previous committee that we saw the retirement of Kumble, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.
It’s not going to be a cakewalk for Patil and his team.
(The writer is a former Cricket Club of India captain and Bombay University cricketer)