On his blog, Hindustan Times sports editor Anand Vasu says that by a singular stroke of good fortune, chairman of the national selectors Krish Srikkanth is under no compulsion to explain his actions to the media.
That line made me think — of a series of selection related issues dating back to 1997, in which the central figures were Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammad Azharuddin and then chairman of selectors Ramakant Desai. The links below serve as a capsule history of that period:
The problem began in July 1997, when then captain Sachin Tendulkar participated in, and later stormed out of, a selection committee meeting. Outlook has the story. [From the same era, another instance].
Fast forward to January 5. 1998: at a selection committee meeting, Sachin Tendulkar was sacked, and Mohammad Azharuddin reinstated, as national captain. This is the smoke and mirrors story of how it was done.
The selection committee then announced its team for the ‘Bangladesh Silver Jubilee Independence Cup’ [you will remember that this was the period in Indian cricket when the main purpose of the BCCI/Jagmohan Dalmiya was to organize various jamborees in Bangladesh; the fact that Dalmiya’s construction firm at that point in time was doing major business in that country was merely one of those bizarre coincidences. Or was it?]. The practice at the time was for the chairman of the selection committee and the secretary of the BCCI to announce the team list, and then take questions from the media.
That meeting took place at the CCI, in Mumbai. At the time, I had recorded the one memory that, even today, remains vivid:
I came away with one abiding memory — of Desai, unable to answer questions relating to the omission of Rahul Dravid, pounding the table with his fists, the foam of spittle that was the visible symptom of his heart ailment flecking the corners of his mouth.
Four months later, Desai died. Age, and a heart ailment, were the stated reasons; this however was the real cause.
The story has a sequel: two weeks after that January 2008 selection meeting, the BCCI put out a two-line memo, sent to all media offices: ‘It has been decided that in future, the secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India will read out the team list at the completion of each meeting of the selection committee. No questions will be entertained from the media.’