The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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It’s Kiri, not Kirti
- World Cup-winning ’keeper to become chief selector

Calcutta, Sept.27: Till yesterday, Syed Kirmani wasn’t even a member of the Board’s senior selection committee. Yet, by late tonight, he was chosen to succeed the indisposed Brijesh Patel as chief selector.

It’s been a remarkable 24 hours for India’s finest wicketkeeper, who is currently in New Delhi on an invitation from Bishan Singh Bedi.

A formal announcement, though, may not be coming till tomorrow afternoon, when the two-day AGM ends.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, Kirmani’s appointment became a “formality” once South decided to nominate him and not Tamil Nadu’s V.B. Chandrasekhar. Of course, it’s the Board president’s prerogative to name the committee chairman.

Till last night, North’s Kirti Azad — like Kirmani, a member of the 1983 World Cup-winning XI — was tipped to take over from Brijesh. However, the powers-that-be began having second thoughts as some questioned Kirti’s “temperament” to head the committee.

Apparently, there was talk that Kirti could fly off the handle and might attempt to “bulldoze” his way.

Really, South’s decision gave the biggest boost to those who weren’t in favour of Kirti, incidentally a BJP Member of Parliament. Moreover, with appearances in 88 Tests and 49 ODIs, Kirmani is infinitely more experienced than Kirti (7 Tests and 25 ODIs).

Actually, that counted for a lot more than Kirti already having spent a year on the committee. After all, if the number of years (on the committee) was to be the criteria for chief selector, Central’s Sanjay Jagdale stood most experienced: He has completed three on-the-trot.

But, then, Jagdale never played for India and, usually, an International gets the nod. Notable exceptions, in recent years, have been Raj Singh Dungarpur and Kishan Rungta.

That South’s representatives (including Hyderabad’s Shivlal Yadav) made a “strong presentation” before Board president Jagmohan Dalmiya, during the day, helped Kirmani’s cause. They emphasised their nominee was the “best candidate” and that his claims ought not to be ignored.

“Besides having been an outstanding wicketkeeper, Kirmani has always come across as thoughtful and balanced. Clearly, a selection committee chairman must have those qualities,” is how one of the sources put it.

By the way, two of the five selectors (for 2003-2004) are now wicketkeepers — the other being West’s Kiran More, who retained his place despite being under some ‘pressure’.

East’s Pranab Roy completes the quintet. Like More, he moves into year No.2.

Meanwhile, one learns that the Board’s general body didn’t seem too impressed (on Day-I of the AGM) by the formation of an ad-hoc committee which chose the squad for the Emerging Nations Trophy.

In a ‘first’, that committee was chaired by Sunil Gavaskar.

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