The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Guess who wants Sourav to open in World Cup
- Ganguly issue could have been handled better but we work in a system, says Kiran More

Vadodara, Jan. 30: As the then (senior) selection committee chairman, Kiran More had a big hand in Sourav Gangulyís exclusion after the 2005 tour of Zimbabwe. Today, however, More sees the former captain as Team Indiaís first-choice opener in the forthcoming World Cup!

Well, opinions can change with time.Ö

Among other things, More (joint-secretary of the Baroda Cricket Association) picked his squad of XV during a one-on-one with The Telegraph this afternoon.

The following are excerpts:

Q: Youíre going to be remembered as a controversial chairmanÖ

A: (Grins) I went to selection meetings with a straight mind. My colleagues, tooÖ People still havenít understood the process of team building. They havenít understood that my committee looked at the future as well... That we wanted some of those who will play a big part in the future to get a taste of international exposure... We have talented cricketers, but they need to know the demands at the highest level.Ö

Among others, my committee capped Sreesanth and Robin Uthappa. My agenda was to have the best team and, in working towards that, some players had to be dropped.

Q: Was Sourav dropped only because of form'

A: Sourav and Zaheer Khan... You should look at their records in the period immediately before they got dropped. There are times when selectors have to take tough decisions and Iím happy both the board and the team management supported my committee. All moves may not click, but I can say I worked with a straight mind. Of course, I accept mistakes couldíve been made.

Q: Your actions suggested you had something personal against SouravÖ

A: Not at all. Iíve always maintained Sourav is an outstanding cricketer... I didnít forget he has over 15,000 runs in Tests and ODIs. Fact of the matter is at that moment (October 2005), we felt he wasnít in the best of form and needed to sit out. We felt the same about Zaheer. A message needed to be sent that if you donít perform, then youíve got to sit out. Today, Iím happy that both have come back so strongly and donít forget Iíd consistently said that the doors hadnít been closed for anybody. People have been focusing on Sourav, so Zaheer hasnít got the credit he deserves.

Q: Did you expect Sourav to make an unbeaten 51 on his Test comeback (in South Africa) and 98 (Nagpur) in ODIs'

A: Given his credentials, I didnít get surprised... Moreover, those who get dropped tend to return strongly as theyíre hungry... Look at (Virender) Sehwag, heís out because he hasnít performed. If the seniors are persisted with despite failures, then how are juniors going to be groomed' The Australians, for example, have groomed Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke so well. Donít expect the world from newcomers, though.

Q: You must have met Sourav at the official dinner on Monday. What did you tell him'

A: We wished each other. The usual.Ö As Iíve said, his exclusion had nothing to do with personal likes or dislikes.

Q: Looking back, donít you feel the Sourav issue should have been handled better' You could have, in person, explained why he was being dropped.Ö

A: Thatís not the system we follow.

Q: Surely, you could have set a precedent.

A: I agree with what you're saying. The Sourav issue couldíve been handled better, but we work in a system. In India, if you tell somebody something, itís quite possible he wonít take it nicely. The media, in my opinion, blew things out of proportion. More recently, no hue and cry was raised when Sehwag got dropped. As for a precedent, itís my committee which set one by dropping Sourav and Zaheer. (After a pause) People are talking of the World Cup, but I tried to look beyond that tournament. Iím confident that all the youngsters we tried will deliver sooner rather than later. Their success is going to vindicate the process we started.

Q: Whatís the difference youíve seen in Sourav and Zaheer'

A: Sourav has been positive. Thatís the way to play. Heís realised that he needs to perform. As for Zaheer, his stint with Worcestershire did wonders. He has again begun to bowl quick. If somebody performs, then a Kiran More canít stop that cricketer from playing for India.

Q: Donít you think young Piyush Chawla got blooded and dropped too soon'

A: I look at it differently. Now, he knows whatís required at the top and we have an option once Anil Kumble retires.

Q: Your thoughts about Dinesh Karthik making such a strong comeback...

A: Every Indian ought to be pleased... (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni and Karthik are playing like champions and Parthiv Patel is on the sidelines... Not too long ago, if you recall, wicket -keeping had been an issue... Healthy competition is needed and it helps in team-building. Perhaps, we get carried away by hundreds and so on. For me, if somebodyís 50-60 helps the team win, then thatís a bigger achievement than a hundred or even a double hundred.

Q: Four months after your term finished, whatís most pleasing'

A: That weíve got so many mediumpacers vying for limited berths... I hope (Lakshmipathy) Balaji and (Ashish) Nehra make a comeback as well.

Q: Have you any advice for successor Dilip Vengsarkar.Ö

A: Dilip and his team must stick to the guys whoíve got opportunities in recent times. Thereís no need to worry. Our balance went for a toss (in South Africa) because Irfan Pathan lost form and Munaf Patel wasnít fit. Then, Yuvraj Singh didnít make the trip at all .Ö That knee injury came at a time he was probably batting at his best. Thankfully, he has recovered.

Q: How do you see Team India faring in the World Cup'

A: Iím convinced weíve got the talent to make the semi-finalsÖ definitely.Ö After that, well.Ö

Q: Who should open'

A: There are options --- Sourav and Sachin Tendulkar.Ö Sourav and Robin Uthappa.Ö I hope Sehwag will, at some point, again get opportunities to open.

Q: Is Sehwag in your World Cup XV'

A: Absolutely. Heís a matchwinner. I hope he gets at least a couple of ODIs versus Sri Lanka next month. (Pauses yet again) The one who doesnít get into my squad is Ramesh Powar. Heís very competitive, but I donít see two specialist off-spinners (Harbhajan Singh being the certainty) going to the West Indies.

Q: The last one: You worked very closely with coach Greg Chappell. His contract will soon be up for renewal... What ought to be done'

A: We must retain him.


Batsmen: Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik (also the second wicketkeeper), Robin Uthappa.

 No. 1 wicketkeeper: Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Allrounder: Irfan Pathan.

Spinners: Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh.

Mediumpacers: Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel.

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