Axed Chetan Sharma back at selection helm
Days after India’s ignominious exit from the T20 World Cup, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided not to renew the contracts of the national selection committee headed by Chetan Sharma.
It looked like a logical decision since accountability had to be imposed in a professional set-up. It began with the selectors before the Board decided to do an overhaul of the team in the shortest format.
However, in a complete U-turn, the BCCI on Saturday reappointed Sharma as the chairman of the new panel. This implies that his performance — the team suffered debacles in two consecutive World Cups during his two-year tenure — has been deemed to be satisfactory by the powers-that-be.
While the Board initially thought the four selectors didn’t warrant an extension, the chairman has been rewarded more than a month later.
The Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising Sulakshana Naik, Ashok Malhotra and Jatin Paranjape also named Chetan’s colleagues on the panel — Shiv Sundar Das, Salil Ankola, Subroto Banerjee and Sridharan Sharath.
It would be naive to blame the CAC for their choice since the process was never deemed to be transparent and the interviews are considered a formality.
In the end, it is left to the Board’s honchos to approve their choice of candidates. Two from the previous committee were believed to be close to a former Board office-bearer and so had to face the axe. Sources also say that the entire drama over the reconstitution of the panel is a fallout of the change of guard in the BCCI.
The new committee will be judged by the team’s performances in the ODI World Cup at home and the T20 World Cup next year. But a close examination will reveal that except for Das, who played three domestic T20s, none of the selectors has the experience of playing the shortest format, leave alone the IPL.
The five wise men though will be expected to judge and pick players to meet the demands of modern cricket. If the Pakistan Cricket Board can appoint Shahid Afridi as their chief selector, why can’t a more solvent and powerful BCCI have a reputed former player at the helm?
Time to realise that only cricketers of eminence and stature can make a difference when it comes to picking players and confronting a high-profile team management. The latest panel has a combined experience of 48 Test matches and 95 ODIs. Don’t expect Chetan Sharma to question a Rahul Dravid or a Rohit Sharma.
It is no secret that several eligible former players chose not to apply since they didn’t wish to give in to the whims and desires of the office-bearers. A commentary stint or a coaching assignment with an IPL franchise surely offers more job security.
The conflict of interest clause also made several stars ineligible and the Board has done little to rectify that. While the officials decided to move the Supreme Court and spent crores to get their tenure cleared, nothing was done to rework the conflict issue.
It’s time to accept that IPL is a part of the system and the constitutional reforms that made IPL coaches and commentators ineligible as selectors need to be amended. Only then will it attract the best in the business.
The selection committee needs seasoned pros, not puppets in the hands of the BCCI. Unless that happens, Indian cricket will continue to suffer. We need to have selectors in tune with the modern-day game, or else we will waste our talent pool.