| Sandeep Patil |
| Sandeep Patil |
Calcutta: Syed Saba Karim, who represented India as a Bengal cricketer, even though he started his career in undivided Bihar, is the new senior national selector from East.
Out of the blue, one may add.
In fact, the 44-year-old Saba Karim has acknowledged that he “wasn’t even aware” of having been in contention.
“Political nominee” Arup Bhattacharya has been slotted in the junior selection committee. Jagmohan Dalmiya shouldn’t, therefore, feel all that uneasy.
On the face of it, Saba Karim has been hand-picked by Board president Narayanswamy Srinivasan, but there could have been a nudge from somebody with a degree of influence.
The official version is that Srinivasan presented the affiliates from East with a fait accompli.
Devang Gandhi and Deep Dasgupta, to name two, must be feeling rather low. The former, in particular, was seen by many as a solid contender.
Key elements of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul had put immense pressure on Dalmiya, the Cricket Association of Bengal president, to “ensure” Bhattacharya succeeded Raja Venkat.
That hasn’t happened, but the Trinamul can’t make an issue over Saba Karim for “obvious reasons,” as a well-placed source of The Telegraph put it on Thursday evening.
It’s a touchy matter.
Saba Karim, however, moved to Noida some years ago and, so, isn’t a resident of the zone.
Asked if he’d now spend more time in East, Saba Karim told this Reporter: “I have no plans of shifting from Noida, but I’ll do what’s required... Travel when I have to.”
Incidentally, Saba Karim learnt of his appointment from the media. Later, he got a call from the Board office.
Exercising the “president’s prerogative” bit, Srinivasan plucked 1983 World Cupper Sandeep Patil (West) out of the National Cricket Academy and made him the chief selector.
With Patil coming in, another 1983 World Cupper, Roger Binny, had to be content merely being South’s man on the selection committee. Till late on Wednesday, he’d been the favourite to sit in the chair occupied by Krish Srikkanth for four years.
As tipped in these columns, Vikram Rathour (North) has replaced Mohinder Amarnath, confirming a major falling-out between the Board and the straight-talking son of the late Lala.
Amarnath came on board last year and had been assured of the chief selector’s post from 2012-13, once Srikkanth’s tenure ended.
With Amarnath’s ouster, the committee has an all-new look. Srinivasan declined to spell out the reasons why he wasn’t retained, which would have provided continuity.
That Amarnath is based in Goa and “cut off” from North had been an issue for two influential affiliates in that zone. They had their way.
Saba Karim is conscious of that.
In what is being seen as a “compromise,” Sunil Chaturvedi’s name got struck off at the last minute and Rajinder Singh Hans came in from Central.
Apparently, Union minister Rajeev Shukla, who heads the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association, was backing Gyanendra Pandey, while most of those who matter were in Chaturvedi’s favour. This ‘clash’ worked to Hans’ advantage.
“Shukla put his foot down where Chaturvedi, ironically from his own state, was concerned,” another well-placed source said.
One may then say that Hans (a left-arm spinner), too, has been hand-picked by Srinivasan.
To get back to Bhattacharya, Srinivasan is understood to have informally conveyed to some that he had to “accommodate” him. That he was “under pressure,” from Dalmiya, to include the relative of a minister in Mamata’s government.
As a result, Rajib Deb Burman of Tripura lost out. Obviously, the poor chap has no political connections and is going to be poorer by Rs 40 lakh annually.
Indeed, the Board has hiked the senior selection committee’s remuneration to Rs 60 lakh annually and doubled that of the junior selectors’.
Footnote: Prof. Ratnakar Shetty, the Board’s chief administrative officer, will continue in his position.