John Wright, Kaun Right ?July 30, 2006
Former national cricket coach John wright’s revelations in his book “Indian summers” about the selection process merits introspection. Wright has suggested that regionalism often crept in the selection of the Indian cricket team and has been unanimously criticized by all the Inidan selectors of that period for airing such views. Some have questioned his integrity for being critical at this late stage but who would dare to bell the cat while on the job?
A former India captain had said once that the best Indian team should purely be on merit even if all the 11 players were from any one region. He could have added that unlike the union cabinet which had to have regional representation, cricketers had to perform and that too transparently in front of a cricket crazy billion people.
Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar points out in his autobiography, “Sunny Days” that on one occasion nine of the eleven test players were from Bombay. He further elucidates ,”The Bombay cricketer knows that he is what he is entirely due to hard work and his own efforts unlike a few others who have come with backing from their states. This is the reason one finds most of the “one-test” men from other states, while the number of “one-test” cricketers from Bombay are negligible.” Has the scene changed drastically from Gavaskar’s time? If so, whether it is Mumbai or any other region; how does one ensure meritocracy?
This reminds of the recent reservation controversy where the joke doing the rounds was that a four by a scheduled caste shoud be deemed a six , he should be exempted from LBW, the boundary should be shortened for him etc etc. Instead of reservation of individuals, this is reservation for regions.
Kapil Dev, too in his autobiography pointed out that selection and changing of captains completely defied logic at times He actually says “The administration follows the policy of divide and rule- that’s how you always produce a weak team though it has great individuals to play the game. “ He said that the board and the press fed on the musical chairs in captaincy between cricketers who were forced to play under each other several times by circumstances.
The new dispensation in the BCCI wants to introduce a corporate culture like in Australia. Hope it percolates down to the selection process and also makes it more transparent. One suggestion is that there should be professional selectors who are paid for the job. They will obviously be former test cricketers but they will not be representing any zone. That will, perhaps avoid controversies like Ganguly.
Today, in the Sunday times along with Wright’s comments the Sunday debate is on “Is it fair for Ganguly to criticize Dalmiya?” . The verbal duel is between former selector Sambaran Banerjee and ex-test player Chetan Sharma(played for Bengal alongside Ganguly).Sharma is quite strident in his criticism of how Ganguly should score runs instead of blaming Dalmiya who, he claims never interfered in selection. Banerjee, on the other hand is adamant that a cricketer of Ganguly’s stature would not criticize Dalmiya unless there was solid substance behind it.
One thing I could never understand is why Saurav was not given enough one day opportunities instead of tests for making a comeback considering that he has more than 10000 runs in that form of the game. On the other hand, if what Chappell has said in his leaked email is true, it reflects poorly on Ganguly and the public is better off knowing about it. Appointing Gavaskar as batting consultant without informing Wright is also not conducive to a harmonious working relationship between captain and coach.
Prasun Mukherjee who is taking on Jagmohan Dalmiya in the Bengal Cricket association elections has already hinted that Ganguly’s omission was for non cricketing reasons. On the other hand, Gavaskar had said in an interview that the chairman of the selection committee had expressed the view that he had not been satisfied with Ganguly’s performance for over two years. “ “How then did he continue in the test team for two years?”,” the little master asked.
(Mamma mia- Dalmiya..Those who live by the sword…..Dalmiya may have not be that much of a force to reclon with now but daal me zarur kuch to kaala hai, miya). Today(31/7), it came in the news that Dalmiya won the Bengal cricket association elections by 5 votes. Whatever his faults, he is a brilliant administrator whose skills should be utilized for the betterment of the game.Selection of Administrators should be as much on merit as players. He has called Ganguly a “baccha”(Child) but the issue in all this is who is or rather what is “Sachcha”(Truth)