The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Will he or won’t he' Not a whisper
- Sachin refuses to take calls, leaves wife to stonewall captaincy queries

Sept.15: It’s not official, but there has been no denial on the approach either.

Indeed, with Sachin Tendulkar still refusing to take calls — “he won’t say anything now, please understand,” pleaded wife Anjali this afternoon — one is reminded of the drama which followed his appointment as the India captain (for a second time) in July 1999.

Sachin took all of 24 hours to convey his acceptance. Then, as many hours later, he left the board red-faced by revealing he had actually asked not to be considered for the captaincy.

The reason: Not being “mentally prepared” to replace Mohammed Azharuddin.

As it turned out, Sachin quit after eight months.

Sachin has not got the captaincy back as yet (apparently, he is himself not disinclined), but it is hardly a secret that BCCI president Sharad Pawar is all for him.

Today, the Mumbai lobby packs a lot of punch and it can’t be a coincidence that the cricket manager (Lalchand Rajput) in the ongoing World Twenty20 and the India A coach (Paras Mhambrey) are Mumbaikars.

A couple of Pawar’s fellow office-bearers, though, favour a young captain — 26-year-old Mahendra Singh Dhoni — in ODIs.

Sachin is 34, but hasn’t lost any of his appetite for big runs.

“We’ve got an obligation to look ahead too…. There’s no point in falling back on somebody… I think we should definitely have a young captain in ODIs,” an office-bearer told The Telegraph.

Another added: “We could have a senior player for Tests…. That will bring about a nice balance, a young captain in ODIs and somebody experienced in Test cricket.”

They rubbished the argument being put forward in some quarters that an inexperienced captain would find the going very tough in the upcoming ODIs against Australia — Team India’s first engagement in the post-Rahul Dravid era.

“If that’s a worry, then what’s going to happen when the biggest names retire' Will we stop playing the tougher teams' A beginning has to be made,” one of the office-bearers emphasised.

Brave words, but eventually the Pawar line alone is going to be implemented. Not for nothing do most address the president, an influential Union minister, as “saheb.”

Apparently, whether to go back or look wholly to the future dilemma has divided the senior selection committee.

At least for now.

Four of the five selectors are currently in the country, with south’s Venkatapathi Raju doing Twenty20 duty in South Africa.

While one favoured Sachin as captain in both forms, two indicated they would push for Dhoni in ODIs. Another said he had an “open mind”.

Open mind or not, board officials do come into the picture when the captaincy issue comes up. It is not always the selectors’ call entirely.

The Dilip Vengsarkar-headed selection committee meets in Mumbai on Tuesday to pick the squad for the first three ODIs versus Australia.

The series will feature seven matches.

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