The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pawar-hitting after debacle

Nov. 24: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, Sharad Pawar, has overruled an “informal” administrative decision on not sending any selector to South Africa.

A Union minister, Pawar went into overdrive this morning after MPs across party lines reacted strongly to India’s huge 157-run defeat in the Durban ODI on Wednesday.

[“I want the selection committee chairman (Dilip Vengsarkar) to communicate the feelings of the countrymen,” Pawar told a news channel.]

“The president has the powers to change anything… We wanted all the (senior) selectors to focus exclusively on domestic cricket, but it’s different now,” BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah informed The Telegraph.

Earlier this year, the Pawar regime started the practice of one selector being present (by rotation) at every Test and ODI on major tours, but there had been much dilly-dallying over South Africa.

The selectors, it may be recalled, were there throughout in Pakistan (January-February) and the West Indies (May-July).

Pawar wanted Vengsarkar to leave “immediately”, but was told that wouldn’t be possible owing to the Test squad’s selection on November 30.

The head-for-South Africa ball began rolling after Pawar spoke to Vengsarkar before setting out for Parliament.

“I’d called Mr Pawar yesterday, to enquire about his health, but couldn’t speak to him in person. Today, he returned my call,” Vengsarkar said.

Later, Pawar spoke to chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty, who will coordinate the travel.

“It’s not confirmed, but I’m likely to go for just the first two Tests… Right now, I don’t know about the third and final one,” Vengsarkar added.

While the five-match ODI series ends on December 3, the Tests are between December 15 and January 6. In between the ODIs is a Twenty20 International, too.

Vengsarkar, obviously, is going to have a significant say in the composition of the XI. As the possibility of a difference in opinion between him and the Big Two — Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell — can’t be ruled out, his presence can actually add to the pressure on the captain and coach.

But, then, the feeling in many quarters is that Dravid and Chappell (not necessarily in that order) have often been whimsical in recent months.

For the record, Vengsarkar only said: “We’ve got to be patient… The itinerary should have been different, allowing at least three warm-up matches… Adjusting to conditions in South Africa and Australia takes time….

“Look at England, they arrived in Australia at least a fortnight before the first Test and played three warm-up matches… It’s another story that they’ve still begun badly… Those things happen… I have faith in Dravid and Chappell… I have faith in the boys as well.”

Pawar, by the way, has accepted there ought to have been “three-four warm-up matches”. Well, then, why did the BCCI approve such a poor itinerary'

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