Monday, November 19, 2007

Chappell is not off the mark on a flawed team

KParthasarathi Monday, November 19, 2007
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The BCCI may be furious over Chappell's charges that Indian team for the word cup was a flawed group without many youngsters and may dismiss them as rubbish. The secretary may take shelter under the usual argument that the Board doesn’t get involved in selection maters that falls under the exclusive domain of selectors. Even the boy who plays cricket for the school knows that the tentacles of the board are spread far and wide on every aspect of the game. The Chairman of BCCI functions like the heads of dynastic political parties. All of them will swear that their parties function democratically with their strength drawn from the petty workers on the field. All decisions taken in the name of high command or executive council are really the wishes of the supremo.Everyone else is a paid hireling remaining in office at his/her pleasure. It was the same when Dalmia was at the helm and now the genuflection of the various functionaries in BCCI is much more pronounced with the head being a powerful minister with lot of clout. His word is decree and wishes are commands. Unless BCCI is saved from powerful people, things would continue like this. Let the half dozen old names who take turn to occupy offices yield their places to a totally new set of capable and younger people who wish to serve the game. For this the structure of BCCI should change.
The selection of Indian team has always been an amusing subject with no predictability or clear direction. The culture of the country with its hero worship and personality cult is very much prevalent in cricket body too. Some players from some regions do not come under normal evaluations. To talk about their fitness or suitability is sacrilege. Greg Chappell raised hornet’s nest by talking to Ganguly about the need to relinquish captaincy to focus on his game and pleading for more youngsters in the team to raise its level and competitive spirit. But the culture of trusting old and tired limbs and making the youngsters wait till they became old went against this insistence of the coach India’s foray was an anticipated disaster losing after the first round. Our ego would not accept the sane advice of an experienced coach.
The selection committee based on regional representation was not designed to be national in character. Invariably there would be briefings from the high command thro its minions on whom to select and whom not to. BCCI, an essentially money making body, go by the wishes of sponsors who are the bread and butter of the institution. They in turn have their commitments on some players on whom their crores ride on. The game and performance take a back stage in such a dénouement. The sponsors ensure they rope in the selectors too with assignments .They have a great say in the choice of players notwithstanding the protestations to the contrary. Everything is done behind the scene far from the scrutiny of the public.
The selection committee’s methodology and the reasons for selection or exclusion of players are always shrouded in mystery. Even the press conference after the selection of the team where the questions would be dealt with in mono syllables is dispensed with. Unless a speaking document signed by the selectors giving the reasons for inclusion and non inclusion of players in the zone of consideration is released, the hanky panky of favouritism would continue. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Let things come to public domain.
If an organization is incapable of choosing a new coach for more than a year and is content to give its cronies the position of managers, the game will be like what it is today. The lone success in T20 or some wins against a depleted Pakistan team should not make us complacent. In the view of Allan Donald it is only England and South Africa who is regarded as equal to mighty Aussies and who may supplant them. To prove him wrong the emphasis should be on talented youth and in building a vast reservoir of players for the highest level. Players above 30 however great and fit should compulsorily retire. Let everyone get an opportunity to serve the country. A country of billion will always throw up competent youngsters. Sadly we have gone back to an old warhorse as captain for test team. We have no guts to put our faith on a young Dhoni. We would continue with the thirty plus warriors with their slow reflexes and weak limbs and keep the youngsters waiting on the sidelines.
Instead of getting upset with what Chappell said and responding in arrogant tone, let BCCI change its ways. Otherwise we will be talking about the same issues after a rout in down under.

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