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Srikkanth brings the right ingredients to the job - Partab Ramchand column
by Partab Ramchand
Oct 03, 2008
They were colleagues during the World Cup triumph in England in 1983 and again during the victory in the World Championship of Cricket in Australia some 19 months later. They represented the country in a number of Tests together in the 80s and early 90s and in fact bowed out of Test cricket at the same time – Perth 1992. And now, most interestingly, Kris Srikkanth has succeeded Dilip Vengsarkar as chairman of the selection committee. Incidentally, it was Srikkanth who also succeeded Vengsarkar as Indian captain in 1989 after being his deputy on the tour of the West Indies earlier that year.

Both got along well as players and both were attacking batsmen. And one gets the distinct impression that Srikkanth, 3-1/2 years Vengsarkar's junior in age will continue his senior colleague's good work. Few would disagree with Vengsarkar's own assessment that he had a satisfactory tenure as chairman. He laid down office after an eventful two-year term during which as he himself pointed out India has risen in the world rankings. Vengsarkar also initiated a youth policy which he hoped would benefit Indian cricket in the long run. He made it clear that his long term goal was to build a team capable of winning the 2011 World Cup to be held in the sub continent and during his tenure a number of talented young players were given their big break and the A team emerged stronger even as he took the tough decision as he put it to axe Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid from the limited overs squad. The crowning achievement of his tenure would certainly be India's triumph in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa last year but the team also won the CB series in Australia for the first time and recently won a one day series in Sri Lanka for the first time. There were also Test series victories in the West Indies and England and the only aberration was the World Cup debacle in the Caribbean last year. As Vengsarkar himself has said that he was happy that perhaps for the first time in Indian cricket there were selection committee meetings which saw no arguments, or heated words, or even voting of any kind. That was the distinct impression one got when the teams were announced at the end of every meeting.

Vengsarkar has pledged full support to Srikkanth and said he would have a discussion very soon with him to pass on information that will help in picking the Indian team for the home Test series against Australia. That is a positive start. Srikkanth himself has said that he sees no reason why the Indian team cannot beat the Australians in the forthcoming four-Test series. The new chairman is aware of the home advantage and the formidable record that India enjoys playing in their own backyard. In the last eight years India have lost only one series - to Australia in 2004.

Srikkanth has got his road map ready. He has already spoken of his short term goals and long term goals. The former, of course, is picking a team that could beat the Australians and the latter is to select a team good enough to win the 2011 World Cup to be held in the sub-continent. The encouraging thing about Srikkanth's appointment is that after retiring from the game in 1993 he has kept in touch with it through being an expert analyst on TV, writing comments for newspapers and managing his own cricket website. His writings and comments have certainly brought memories of his batting – hard hitting devil may care opinions which are entertaining and provocative though one supposes as selection committee chairman he will have to rein himself in a bit. He has also been closely involved in various other capacities including chairman of the pitches committee and India A coach. Now however comes his biggest challenge perhaps even bigger than when he took on the West Indian pace quartet with aplomb. With the following that cricket enjoys in this country every move of his will be dissected and bisected. It is a thankless job and that's the first thing that Srikkanth will have to accept. Only brickbats come the way of the selectors and not bouquets. Also this is the first team of selectors to take over under the new professional set up by which they will be paid Rs 25 lakhs per annum and so accountability will be a factor.

Not that this would bother a blithe spirit like Srikkanth. Given his vast experience, his upright disposition and maturity in the handling of various cricketing matters the 48-year-old Srikkanth can be expected to have a successful tenure during which young talent can be expected to be given their breaks at the right time.
 
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