Blast from the past

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.’

 

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9 thoughts on “Blast from the past

  1. Looking at the comments, one would have thought that something catastrophic has happened in the recent selection to the Indian Team. Frankly, there is nothing controversial. The Team decided to have a reserve opener and reserve middle order batsman. Nothing wrong in that considering the fitness levels of Sehwag, Gambhir and Yuvraj. M.Vijay and Badri has been the first reserves on both these slots for a while now. No one utters a word as to why 3 spinners were picked when even 2 playing in the 11 is a remote possibility, but goes gaga over 2 batsmen being picked. Sreesanths was a marginal selection ahead of Nehra (not fit and keen for Test Match Cricket) or Munaf. No one doubts his talent. Selectors took a call that they deemed fit which is fair considering the woeful performance of our seamers. Let us leave it at that.

    • The tests are in India – we will play 2 pace/2 spinners. It will still be inadequate on Indian tracks. You need an all rounder that can help balance the side.

      At least we are better off than in the 90s when we did not have a batting wicketkeeper and we were forced to have the likes of Manoj Prabakar/Mongia opening the batting.

      The likely team is Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Yuveraj, Laxman, Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishanth Sharma, Mishra/Ojha

      If they pick a third seamer instead of a second spinner, you can gaurantee a loss or a painful draw.

      Ideally, they should pick a third seamer by dropping Yuveraj.

  2. SS is one exciting bowler in India who is capable of taking wickets of every ball. Still cannot forget some of his spells to Hayden (still bats left handed) when he was in great form. One thing I liked about SS is he wants to fight the best ..whether it is SRT in the domestic or VS. He wants a fight. Hope our red eyed commentators, school head masters, administrators,officers & gentlemen leave him alone and let him play with aggression. Likes of Thomson, Lille, and Mcgrath if they were born in India they would have never played cricket.
    Hope SS gets the support of the seniors in the team and the captain this time. So much politics was played against him in the past so this is really new life for SS. I am glad SS is back and happy someone listened.

    • Agree that Sreesanth is a veryg good talent. His spell against South Africa, the close up shots of the upright seam with which he released the ball are still fresh in my memory.

      But then, he needs to have a steady head to take his talent and fulfill his potential. right now he seems to be interested in things other than cricket.

      • There was some argument is the press about SS selection that he has not played enough cricket to make a comeback! What about Zaheer khan ? Has he played enough cricket? Why no one questioning his selection? What about IS ..he played enough cricket .yes.. but sucked so badly.

  3. Just read those two 1998 stories. The first one leaves me disgusted and the second one…I don’t know what to say.

    Today Gavaskar mentioned on CNN IBN that Sachin, after retiring, will most certainly not want to be a coach of Indian team. The fickle Indian fan following makes the job too difficult. I guess, what he also said, without saying so, was also that cricketing politics is something that is best left to the professionals.

    Sachin and the likes know discretion is better than valour there.

  4. The last para mentions the selection meeting as happening in 2008. I think you are referring to the 1998 one.

  5. Can you really mute someone as unmutable as Srikkanth? He is a force of nature, a fountain of words that finds some outlet or the other. He doesn’t address presser after selection committee meeting but shamelessly spilling evrything to a particular channel he was earlier contracted with and most likely would be contraced again once he is through with this chief selector’s stint.
    BTW, Anand is probably stil the Chief Cricket Writer of HT, not sure if he has hit the jackpot.

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