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BCCI taming the selectors
by Sunil Gavaskar
Nov 24, 2007
The BCCI's decision not to allow the Chairman of the Selectors to interact with the media after a Selection Committee meeting was inevitable after the recent happenings.When the Chairman of the Selection Committee is asked whether it was personal enmity that led to a certain omission, then it is quite natural that the BCCI would say ‘Enough is enough,’ and see that the Chairman or for that matter any selector, is not subjected to such an ordeal. In the past too, the BCCI prevented its Chairman of Selectors to speak to the media, but it was lifted and the Chairman was till recently not only speaking to the media after every selection meeting but also writing a column himself. In trying to get an ‘exclusive’ or create a controversy, questions are thrown, which is the reason the BCCI must have come to this decision. Not every Chairman is articulate, and even the articulate ones can sometimes use the wrong word or sentence, and that's enough to create a furore, which is not needed at all. The late Ramakant Desai had a tough time coping with the media when he was Chairman, and many of his fans feel that his life was shortened by the tension and pressure of the media-questioning. Ramakant was essentially a very shy man, and not one to give of his views to all and sundry even when he was not a Selector. A person does not have to be media-savvy to be Chairman, since he is there primarily because of his experience as a player, and to pick teams. In Australia too, the cricket board simply issues a media release giving the team selected, but in that release, there is also a comment from the Chairman of Selectors as to what they expect from the players and any other issue that the media might be interested in. The moment one heard that question about personal enmity having influenced Dravid’s omission from the one-day team, it was on the cards that the BCCI would not allow the Chairman of Selectors to meet the media henceforth. Of course, that may not have been the only reason, but it would have been the last straw that broke the camel's back. The BCCI is well aware that its Chairman has contributed significantly to Indian cricket, and would have been concerned that questions like that were put to somebody who has served the game on the field and continues to do so off the field. It is not an ideal situation, and one which calls for a better interaction between the media and the BCCI, where there has to be a mutual acceptance of what is the right way to have clarity about the selection, which is a confidential meeting anyway.

The selectors will be a happy lot, now that they are going to be paid to watch matches. While some selectors are self-employed, there are some who are employed elsewhere, either in the public or private sector, and so have to get permission to leave and watch the matches. Because cricket is such a popular game, most of these organizations do not deduct any salary from the selector’s pay packet for being away from work, but they may certainly lag behind when it comes to promotions in the offices where they are employed.

The BCCI has decided that selectors will be paid for watching Tests and ODIs, but what about Ranji Trophy and junior cricket in India? Now that the Ranji season is on, the selectors should be going down to watch some of the players who are on the fringe of International Cricket, and see for themselves how good the player is and what sort of temperament he has. The moot point is that will any selector go for the first-class matches when there is a ODI or Test going on simultaneously? There is no mention of any payment being made to watch the first-class games. Now that the team for the first two Tests against Pakistan has been selected, the selectors should be spreading out to watch the Ranji Trophy and not the Tests, but then they will lose out on the allowances and fees, won’t they? It is here that the Chairman has to take the initiative and decide which selector goes where to watch Ranji games. It's a good move to pay the selectors, but at the same time, the BCCI must make it clear that their job is not just to watch Tests and ODIs, but also to scout for talent in Ranji Trophy and Junior Cricket.

The other commendable decision that the BCCI has taken, to release the players who are not part of the eleven to go and represent their teams in the Ranji Trophy, has not come a day late, and in fact has been overdue. There is no point in players just sitting around for days on end with no competitive cricket, for if there is an injury to someone playing and they are asked to play, they will be short of match-practice and the confidence that comes with it. It is better to have them play and get a feel of the bat and the ball in match conditions. The sad part is that most of the players themselves would rather be part of the glamour involved in being in the 14 and having five-star comforts and perks, than going and slumming it out in some place where there may not be too many people coming to watch the match. Some coaches of the state teams would rather not have these players, because they know that their commitment-levels will not be high, and they will, if anything likely, disrupt the rhythm and groove the Ranji squad is already in. There is also the question of loss of revenue for the player who has to go and play a Ranji game, so he won’t be that keen to do so. Still, it's a great decision by the BCCI, and they need to be complimented for it. It happens everywhere in the world, where those not in the playing eleven are released to play for their first-class teams. If their team is not playing, then the player can stay and train with the Indian team, but otherwise he is definitely better off playing for his state team.

How the BCCI implements these major decisions will be followed with great interest over the next few weeks by cricket-lovers.
 
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