The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nobody will get a raw deal: Patel

Calcutta: Had adjustments within the dominant Jagmohan Dalmiya-led group taken a different turn, Brijesh Patel would probably have been the Board’s new joint-secretary.

As it turned out, Thursday, Patel got the chairmanship of the senior selection committee.

“You don’t always plan for everything… At times, things just happen and, today, my responsibilities have grown,” a smiling Patel, the super-efficient Karnataka secretary, told The Telegraph soon after his appointment at the Board’s AGM here.

Patel, who is also director of the Bangalore-located National Cricket Academy, will (for the time being) continue to hold that post.

Significantly, only Central’s Sanjay Jagdale retained his seat, with all four remaining slots getting first-time occupants: Kirti Azad (North), Pranab Roy (East), Kiran More (West) and, of course, South’s Patel.

That Patel, a former India player and manager, would be on the panel was known late last night itself. That he would actually be the chairman became clear in the afternoon when West dumped Chandu Borde, chief selector for the past three years, and nominated More.

[According to well-placed sources, the Cricket Club of India and Maharashtra wanted Borde to be retained, while Mumbai offered Dilip Vengsarkar as a candidate. Eventually, the views of Baroda (More’s home association), Gujarat and Saurashtra prevailed.

That Vengsarkar already holds a Board position — chairman of the Talent Resource Development Wing — was used as an “excuse” to brush aside his candidature. Last year, too, Vengsarkar became a victim of manipulations. More than anything else, Mumbai comes off very poorly.]

To return to Patel, just about everybody agrees he was good enough for more than 21 Tests (between 1974 and 1978). In other words, there is unanimity that he got a raw deal.

Having gone through the pain of first being sidelined and, then, ignored permanently, Patel insisted “nobody” would be treated unfairly. “Frankly, I don’t see why anybody should get a raw deal… Personally, I’m for consistency in team selection and don’t favour a policy of chopping and changing.”

He quickly added: “In any case, Team India has been doing well and, so, this business of effecting rapid changes shouldn’t even arise… The team’s performance in England, especially, was pleasing. Today, we do have a stable team.”

The new selection committee chairman, however, admitted the bowling-arm of Team India — particularly the new-ball attack — needs to be “looked at.”

Asked whether he would request Jawagal Srinath to again make himself available for Test cricket, Patel promptly answered: “Yes, I’ll speak to him once he returns from Leicester… I’ll try and persuade him...”

Being Bangalore-based, Patel has known Srinath for years. Moreover, generally, his rapport with cricketers past and present is excellent.

Srinath, it may be recalled, quit the sport’s longer version after the Test series in the West Indies, which ended in the second-half of May.

Incidentally, assignment No.1 for the newly-constituted panel will be to pick XIV for the West Indies’ tour-opener, in Bangalore, from October 4-6.

“At some stage in my career, I’ve played against the co-selectors — including More. Therefore, quickly being on the same wavelength shouldn’t be an issue… I’m looking forward to interacting with Kirti and the rest,” Patel signed off.

When the chief selector himself is clear about priorities, the committee can’t go off course.

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