Sir — The selection processes followed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India do not surprise me any longer (“Yuvraj & Harbhajan back, Murali is the only surprise”, Nov 6). Nepotism and regionalism have always played a big part in the selection of players for the national team, at the cost of merit and capability. That is why a failed cricketer like Murali Vijay made it to the squad for India’s first two Test matches in the forthcoming series against England, whereas deserving players like Manoj Tiwary and Ashok Dinda lost out on their berths (“Manoj: Have to be patient”, Nov 6).
Dinda has been called on as a standby. But it is inexplicable that he is not in the Test side against England. It is true that he is a brilliant pace bowler. Not only has he performed well in the Indian Premier League matches, but he also dominated the domestic cricket scene last season when he picked up 59 wickets in 9 matches. He fared excellently during the recent Asia Cup tournament and the one-day international series against Sri Lanka. In the semi-final of the Duleep Trophy, Dinda demolished the South Zone’s batting line-up by claiming seven wickets. In spite of all these achievements that prove that he deserves to be on the national Test squad, Dinda was passed over by the selectors who chose the ageing Zaheer Khan as well as Umesh Yadav. The inclusion of Ishant Sharma is also shocking. He is an inconsistent player and has fared poorly, of late.
The only reason why fading players are chosen over Dinda is because the latter hails from Bengal. The bias against cricketers from Bengal has been evident in the history of Indian cricket. Sudangsu Mantu Banerjee and Shute Banerjee took five wickets each in their debut Tests, but were never selected again. The former cricketer, Gopal Bose, was also never given a proper chance to prosper even though he had a successful record in first-class cricket and was part of the national team for the tour of Sri Lanka where he put up a 194-run partnership with Sunil Gavaskar. Subroto Banerjee was not allowed to play his second Test match even though he took the wickets of Mark Waugh, Mark Taylor and Geoff Marsh in his debut Test against Australia at Sydney in 1992. His career was terminated because he didn’t perform well in one ODI against South Africa in East London in 1992. But cricketers who belong to other regions keep getting chances to be in the team even if they fail to perform repeatedly. Saradindu Mukherjee, who was on the national team for the Asia Cup in 1990-91, took the formidable Aravinda de Silva’s wicket in both matches played against Sri Lanka. In spite of his performance, he was never selected for the national squad again. The former left-arm bowler, Utpal Chatterjee, played excellently in the Asia Cup at Sharjah in 1995; he claimed the wickets of players like Moin Khan and Ghulam Ali. However, he was removed from the squad just because he failed to perform in one ODI against New Zealand at Jamshedpur. Ranadeb Bose emerged as the highest wicket-taker in the 2006-07 season of the Ranji Trophy. But this did not lead to his selection for the national squad; the then chief selector, Dilip Vengsarkar, reportedly said that Bose would be considered for selection only if he played well. These omissions speak volumes about the presence of parochial politics in the process of selecting players to represent the country at an international level.
The former Indian captain, Sourav Ganguly, was not allowed to be on the national team for years just because he did not do well in his debut ODI innings. Rahul Dravid, on the other hand, was allowed to make his Test debut at Lords immediately after scoring a mere 21 runs from his first four ODIs. Ganguly was forced to retire after a stellar performance in the series against Australia while his ageing colleagues continued to play. Sachin Tendulkar has still not hung up his boots.
Given the current state of affairs, I would not be surprised if Dinda meets the same fate as Bose. If regional bias dominates the selection of players for a national team, it stands to reason that the team will not perform consistently at the international level. There should be strong protests against the treatment meted out to cricketers from Bengal and other neglected parts of India.
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur
Sir — It was shocking to read that Manoj Tiwary has not been included in the team for the first two Tests against England. The selection committee did not consider the performance of this player; the preferences of the captain, M.S. Dhoni, must have come into play. Dhoni has rarely given Tiwary a chance to perform. Tiwary will be deprived of opportunities to serve on the squad as long as Dhoni is the skipper. The selection committee should be able to exercise more power than the captain while choosing a side. If this does not happen, good cricketers will not be able to play for the country.
Keshab Kumar Chowdhury, Calcutta
Sir — Sachin Tendulkar should not be playing Test cricket any longer, irrespective of the number of centuries he has scored in the Ranji Trophy. Tendulkar has become slow; his performance in international cricket is no longer good. He has lost his alertness and his quick reflexes against difficult deliveries. He should have been dropped from the national team even before Rahul Dravid’s retirement. His presence in the team is depriving young, talented cricketers of their places in the side.
The selectors do not seem to think that fit and talented people should be picked to play. They have selected Virender Sehwag for the Tests against England, in spite of his problems with injury. They have also picked Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan. Harbhajan Singh has also made it to the squad in spite of being well past his prime. One also worries about Yuvraj Singh’s fitness.
One needs to ask why Manoj Tiwary and Suresh Raina, who are both in form, have been left out of the squad.
Tusar Kanti Kar, Howrah