Calcutta: Itís rare for the Board to name a former captain as the senior national selection committee chairman, but the Sharad Pawar group did that in Mumbai on Wednesday. Indeed, Dilip Balwant Vengsarkarís appointment has raised the credibility level of the committee to heights not seen in recent years. One of the finest batsmen of his generation, Vengsarkar played 116 Tests (6,868 runs) and 129 ODIs (3,508 runs).
Gujarat did make a noise about getting its nominee (Mukund Parmar and not Dhiraj Parsana) on the committee, during the intra-Zone meeting which preceded the AGM, but Mumbaiís proposal carried the day. Pawar, who also heads the Mumbai Cricket Association, personally argued for Vengsarkar. He received much support from Cricket Club of India boss Raj Singh Dungarpur.
The 50-year-old Vengsarkar, who has been a Mumbai selector, spoke to The Telegraph soon after being informed about what is big news for Indian cricket.
The following are excerpts from the telephonic interview:
On being appointed chairman of the senior national selection committee
Itís a nice feeling... Donít know how else to react... In one capacity or the other, Iíve been involved with Indian cricket for three decades and that relationship will continue.
On the past few days when there had been speculation about his succeeding Kiran More
(Laughs) I was normal.
On priorities as chairman
I wouldnít like to say anything much till Iíve sat down with my colleagues and watched the Challenger in Chennai.
On Indiaís performance in the tri-series in Kuala Lumpur
We didnít do well, but Iím the type to look ahead... Iím going to focus on getting better, not spend my time looking back.
On whether somebody like Sourav Ganguly (his roommate for a short while on the 1991-92 tour of Australia) can expect a fair deal
I wouldnít like to talk of individuals, but players will be picked on merit. For me, form and fitness alone are going to matter. Anybody who is playing domestic cricket and meets the requirements Iíve listed will be eligible for selec-tion.
On whether selectors should be on the payroll of the Board
Look, Iíve just been appointed...
On whether heís comfortable with the zonal system
No... Iím opposed to a zonal bias and strongly feel selectors must have an all-India outlook. Only the best should be picked, irrespective of the zone. After all, we have the responsibility to select the national team.
On whether there ought to be better communication between the selectors and the players
In principle, thatís not a problem... However, you canít expect me to keep explaining to all the players why theyíve been dropped. Iíve got to be selective, but I wonít be insens- itive.
On whether he knows captain Rahul Dravid well enough
Frankly, no... Opportunities to know each other better are definitely going to arise. Dravid, I think, made his India debut a good four years after Iíd finished my career.
On the previous committee having named Dravid captain till the end of the 2007 World Cup
Thatís fine with me.
On coach Greg Chappell
I do know him... I played against him in the early Eighties...
On the general belief that his appointment will lend much greater credibility to the selection committeeís decisions
Youíre indirectly asking me to comment on the previous chairman... Iíd rather not react.
On whether heís going to be under pressure as heís starting off in a World Cup season
(Laughs again) Even as a player, handling pressure wasnít difficult. Why must it be different in this role'
Finally, his message to players
If youíre looking to make a comeback or eager for a break, then perform big and stay fit... Iíve already told you what will drive selections... Iím clear about merit.