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Fix all the 'leaks' - Sunil Gavaskar Column
by Sunil Gavaskar
Nov 30, 2008
It was good to see the reaction of the Indian media to the leak by a selector about the meeting in Kanpur. They were pretty unanimous in condemning the selector who for whatever reason gave a scoop to a paper about the reaction of Mahendar Singh Dhoni, the Indian skipper about the team that was chosen. Dhoni on his part also expressed his disgust at the leak and rightfully did not confirm any of what had appeared in the paper. Newspapers of course protect their sources but apart from the selector even the author of the story needs to ponder over what has been done was in the interests of Indian cricket or not. What is disappointing is that such an achiever like Mahendra Singh Dhoni can be defamed even as the selector, whose cricketing deeds are nowhere near the Indian skipper's, is able to hide behind the anonymity that the paper provides him. If anything it is only fair for the public to decide on the credibility of the accuser and the accused by naming both.

Far too often have we seen in the past accusers hiding behind anonymity as they make allegations against India players. When that happens the discerning immediately dismiss the story as being motivated and so don't give it much importance but the average person who doesn't have the time to think in his busy schedule just goes by the headline and ends up believing the worst about some of our players. Not for a moment is it being suggested that all Indian players are angels, far from it but surely it is the public who should decide who is more credible, the accuser or the accused. In any case it is hard to understand why anonymity should be given for something which is not for national security issues but only for a sport even though it is like a religion in the country.

What it has done is to create an atmosphere of distrust between the skipper and the selector and make no mistake that selector is already known to Dhoni and he will have warned his teammates about him. It won't be a surprise too if the BCCI removes him at the next meeting because the Board is aware how much of a danger such a selector is to Indian cricket. Sure there will never be unanimity in selection meetings and there will invariably be a difference of opinion especially about choosing the fringe players in the squad. It is for this reason that the argument about the common man having faith in the selectors is important. This is a season where two senior players have already called it quits and there are questions about other seniors being asked. In such a scenario the common man needs to feel confident that those taking the call on the seniors know their onions and are not going to succumb to pressure from anywhere. After all the seniors have been serving the game for more years than the selectors have played cricket. No disrespect is intended to any of the selectors who are all fine men and the one who leaked it has probably realised his folly and is regretting his decision and won't repeat it again.

Many others have weighed in with instances in the past where skippers who wanted a particular player and who could not get their man opted to quit the captaincy rather than play without their preferred player. Let us get one thing clear here. No captain is ever going to be foolish enough to ask for a player on the basis of his friendship or whether he comes from his city or zone. After all his own captaincy will be on the line if he prefers a player who is not good enough and makes the team weak. He will also lose the respect of his team if he prefers such a player and that's the last thing a skipper wants. Of course a skipper who has seen more of a player and not his competitor will prefer the one he has seen more of but it is here that a good selection committee will help him resolve that to the betterment of the balance of the squad.

Having said that it is also important for the BCCI to ensure that those not playing in the games and unlikely to do so are released to play in the Ranji Trophy so that they are match fit if they are selected in a future game. Most of the reserves hardly get quality practice when they are with the team since it is the playing eleven that gets priority and attention from the coach and supporting staff as they prepare for the next day's match. It is therefore far better for the squad to be of thirteen players and release the others to play Ranji Trophy. Why do we need so many reserves in India when touring teams from far away come with fourteen players and that too with one wicketkeeper.

There is another aspect that BCCI needs to look at and that is about selection of players for the national squad when a player has just been fined for breach of the code of conduct in a Ranji game. What message does that send when a player who has been fined hundred percent of his match fees is selected for India less than twenty four hours after being fined in a Ranji game. Is it in any way going to deter the player when he knows that no matter how he behaves in the Ranji games he will be selected for the India team.

The last week has seen some sterling performances by the Indian team as it won all five games against England but it also has seen some murky happenings that BCCI will do well to get a handle on and take a policy call on. It will only be for the good of Indian cricket.
More Views by Sunil Gavaskar
  Results have been utterly disappointing for New Zealand
  National duty comes first
  One-day game is alive and well
  Dhoni bears the fury of the media
  Spirit of Cricket
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