Selection blues

Syed Kirmani and ‘livid’ don’t usually go together — the ace stumper who at various times has headed the KSCA and national selection committees is as jovial as they come.

On one occasion, though, I saw him lose his cool in course of a casual chat. We were discussing the dramatic decline in wicket-keeping standards and Kiri argued that politics was killing the standards of glove-men in the country.

The example he used was of Somasekhar Siriguppi, the first choice keeper for Karnataka. Kiri argued — and from watching him keep and bat, I had to agree — that Tilak Naidu was streets ahead of Siriguppi both behind and in front of the stumps, but Brijesh Patel, Karnataka’s chief selector at the time, repeatedly plumped for SS, arguing to his mates on the committee that he believed Siriguppi had a good chance of making the national team, and hence should be persisted with. The denouement to that story, of course, was that Siriguppi never did make the national team, and an increasingly frustrated Naidu went off the rails.

I was reminded of that conversation, and similar others revolving on acts of omission and commission in team selection, while reading this story of Shantakumaran Sreesanth and the Kerala Ranji squad.

Even though Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) today decided to reprimand S Sreesanth “for regularly violating the players code of conduct”, the pacer was retained as the captain of the state`s Ranji team.

Although the KCA chairman D Gopakumar recommended Sreesanth`s removal from captaincy for his misdemeanor in the field, an emergency meeting of the selection committee here decided against the severe action as he is the only international quality cricketer from the state and still has the potential to make a comeback in the national team.

How screwed up is it, when a selection committee sees fit to confer the captaincy on a player who ‘regularly’ violates the code of conduct? And what message does this send to the player in question — that it is okay to be the perennial enfant terrible as long as he has ‘potential’? Not so long ago, I had in a post argued that much of Sreesanth’s troubles stem from the fact that discipline has rarely if ever been enforced in his case — and this act of the Kerala Ranji selection committee seems IMHO to be more of the same.

Another, more telling clip from that news story:

The committee discussed in detail Sreesanth`s code of conduct and unanimously decided to reprimand him and convey the message that recurrence of such behaviour would be viewed seriously by the KCA, its secretary T C Mathew told reporters.

Mathew said Sreesanth has been abstaining from the coaching camp without prior permission for `non-cricketing reasons`.

“He was appointed captain of the Kerala Ranji side with a clear intention to support his comeback to the national team,” he said.

Ignore for the moment the KCA’s statement that SS has been retained captain with a ‘clear intention’ of supporting his possible comeback to the side — which is a daft reason to pick a player, much less a state captain.

Consider instead this: Despite Sreesanth ‘regularly violating’ the code of conduct, the KCA sees fit to retain him as captain of the squad — and Sree’s response is to absent himself from the coaching camp without permission, and for non-cricketing reasons.

If the KCA really wanted to facilitate the bowler’s rehabilitation, it could have dropped him from the state squad, called him in for a meeting, read him the riot act and asked him to decide whether he wants to play cricket, or play the fool. Seriously, isn’t it time someone gave this young man the kick up the backside he has been asking for?

[Link via Ipatil on Twitter]

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16 thoughts on “Selection blues

  1. man we’re so backward, in everything, that its a wonder that we’re still relevant. i’m not sarcastic or anything, in all seriousness, we’re a bunch of incompetent idiots. i wonder how this country runs. nobody seems to be doing the right thing!

  2. The Kerala cricket team holding on to an international cricketer is like an Arab clinging to his only camel in the middle of the unforgiving desert. Sure, God’s own country had their share of quality cricketers, but they perished to the whims and fancies of the Brijesh Patels who were more the rule than the exception in the earlier decades (I am assuming that the accustations against Brijesh Patel are based on facts). Surely, cricket is in its infancy in Kerala, where its still the stronghold of a few high and mighty with the all important political muscle. Rare talents like K.Ananthapadmanabhan have been confined to the dust-bins of would-have-beens, because the association would not back him. (I remember Carlton Saldanha once mentioning to me that Kumble would never have made it if Ananthan got a chance to play for India!). As things stand now, the only way the masters of cricpolitik in Kerala can have a place in the sun is in the reflected glory of Sreesanth, who has been working over-time (more in the green rooms and dance floors than the nets) to be in the news. So turning a blind eye to a ‘bit of indescretion or indiscipline’ is the least they (The Kerala Cricket Association) can do to remain visible and of course, well heeled.
    Talking about Sreesanth, is exasperating. Most people noticed him when he took Tendulkar’s wicket in a doestic one day tourney, much later. But I have been watching the bloke since he played for India-A against the visiting New Zealanders at Rajkot in Oct. 2003! He was a shy and quiet boy, displaying hardly anything more than a blush when he took McMillan’s wicket. It was there for all to see that here was a guy who held the seam upright and bowled the classical right-armers’ outswing- a deadly ball bowled at the right length and direction to a right handed batsmen.
    Over the years, he has added a bit of pace, but his strength remained the same, whereas his weakness- the lure of publicity- grew many-fold. Many people find hima an enigma, not quite knowing how to make him out- a genius with a temper which affects his performance, or a Mcenroe whose performance is enhanced by his tantrums; a bully who taunts opponents or a poor victim of bullying by the likes of Bajji?
    Let me de-mystify the conundrum for once and for all.
    Sreesanth is essentially a simple kid- a cherub, if you like.
    He is perhaps the one who bowls with the straightest seam in international cricket.
    He is perhaps amply blessed with copious supplies of adrenaline- a must for a fast bowler.
    There, I’m afraid end the positives. The word ‘upstart’ was probably framed with him in mind. And the honest truth (which his captains do not seem to have spotted) is that he is uncomfortable bowling to left handers to whom his stock out-swinger is not threatening. He is intimidated by a left-hander if he is aggressive like Hayden or Gilchrist or Greame Smith. Remember the Indian tour of the W.I in 2006, when he was hit all over the place by Gayle and Chandrapaul and returning figures of 0-96 and 1-99 in the first and the third tests? To his credit, he redeemed himself somewhat in the fourth, but to this date, most of his good bowling spells have been to right-handers.
    The Indian media which is waiting for heros and villains, took to him swiftly and he was made to believe that he had arrived, at a stage when he had a lot to learn.The poor guy got frustrated when his reputation was at stake and resorted to tantrums. A bit more of discretion by the captains might have saved the situation for him. But he should have known that there is no place to hide in International Cricket.
    He may yet prove me wrong, but as indicated by all his misdemeanors on and off the field, it seems unlikely that he has enough time (and even less inclination) to learn.

  3. For me, SS is still the best fast bowler in India. He is one thinking fast bowler in India unlike RP,IS or bunch of others. He has got swing, Pace, aggression and a great line & length to the left handers.

    A good captain or a coach would have helped him come out the present situation. For MSD, his personal relationship with RP & HS was more important than helping a bowler who could have helped the team bowling attack. Bowlers like RP were given so many chances & our X-bowling coach was silent all along but now suddenly realized that Indian coaching job is not some government job where you can relax and retire with pension.

  4. Why is the KCA doing all of this? Is it just because Sreesanth might have the chance of being in the national team (like Siri..)? And will this automatically get them any fame? credit?

    And then when he fails there due to his antics, are they not equally responsible for them?

    And in all of this, with a public story, what is the BCCI supposed to do?

    And then, are there no laws/bylaws of the association that must be adhered to?

  5. I cannot understand this argument about it being the BCCI’s fault for lack of mentoring. What exactly do people think the BCCI should do, send him to a boot camp for all the days he isn’t playing? The player has a choice, he has chosen repeatedly to grab cheap headlines than try to make something of his talent. He hasn’t represented the country since the IPL last year, if he really wanted to get back don’t you think he would have made the effort? How hard can it be to shut your mouth, stow away your arrogance and focus on the task at hand if it really does mean something to you?
    As for the KCA, I think its safe to say egos and politics had a much bigger say here, Sreesanth is barely capable of thinking for himself (both off and on the field), let alone ten others who will either be sycophants or have no respect for him or most likely both.

    • The way I see it everybody can’t handle the kind of attention these guys get esp.at impressionable ages of 21 22.

      He wants to get back in the team no doubt .. but h probably has his priorities all wrong; for all you know some idiot has advised him that he is more saleable if he monkeys around.

      Considering player development is a part of the BCCI’s charter, they need to provide any kind of support to their players be it physical conditional or mental support.

      • So what exactly is this “mental support”? Weekly chats with a psychiatrist? Sports psychologists, motivational speakers, PR and media strategists? You think someone who couldn’t care less about attending a coaching camp that could mark his comeback to the national team would take any of these seriously?
        I think it was Michael Jeh on Cricinfo’s different strokes who spoke about this exact thing when Symonds was determined to press the self destruction button. In that case Symonds did have an alcohol problem, felt let down by his board over the monkeygate saga and probably felt unnecessarily targeted both by his team and media. It ended up with Symonds making a promise he couldn’t keep and we all know what happened to him from there.
        I disagreed then and I disagree now. We’ve all heard the cliches about how International cricket is more about your mental ability. There is good reason behind this. At that level more than any other, you need to have your focus set correct. If that means shutting everything else out to ensure you are performing at your best, then thats what it takes. And that comes down to the individual and the goals he has set himself and how committed he is to achieving those goals. If he doesn’t really have the heart for it, he isn’t going to succeed.
        I have first hand information that Sreesanth had this focus when he first played at state level. He lost it midway through his international career. As entertaining as his hip thrusts to Andre Nel were, the rather stupid glorification from a few media quarters probably was the first real move in a shift from his primary focus as a cricketer. The trysts with bollywood didn’t help either. To me, he’s been nothing but a drama queen for the last couple of years. And that is not the BCCI’s fault. If dropping him isn’t enough of a wake up call, what is?

  6. Another guy loosing out because of lack of mentoring from the BCCI. Everyone does not have the maturity to handle the attention.

    • “Lack of Mentoring”? How long is this babysitting supposed to last? Mentoring at the formative stage, say in the teens to early 20s, YES. Mentoring when you are nearing 30 and given ample warnings on need to improve? This is professional sport not an Alcoholic Annonymous self help group!!

  7. Actually he might not be really be rueing his omission from the Indian team… The real jolt will come to him when he will not be needed in his/other IPL teams either

  8. Thought he will be the pride of Kerala and has instead became a shame. A really talented guy who could have been the leading bowler!! Surprising that his family doesn’t have any control on him..

  9. Why are we still hung up on this guy? Time we moved on and left him to whatever he’s happy doing. I don’t think he’s ever going to make it to the Indian team in the future, no matter what he does from now on.

  10. I have given up on this guy. There is an expression in Tamil – “thalai kazhuthil nikkaamal adugirathu”. Fits this guy perfectly.

    Sad – he was fairly talented, was a match winner on his day and could have been one of the mainstays of the Indian bowling attack along with Zaheer, Nehra, Munaf, and Ishanth.

    Another L Siva in the making – or maybe, already made.

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