13 July 2020 12:45 AM



MSK Prasad’s Commendable Defence Raises Valid Points

MSK Prasad’s Commendable Defence Raises Valid Points

One must commend selection committee chairman MSK Prasad for countering various charges and also rising to the defence of his co-selectors. Much of what he said in the interview to a national news agency makes a lot of sense and ultimately as he puts it the record of the team and the several new players given their breaks during the tenure of the committee stands testimony to the good work done by Prasad and his colleagues Devang Gandhi, Sarandeep Singh, Jatin Paranjpe and Gagan Khoda.

Personally I have always believed that a great cricketer need not automatically excel in any other field associated with the sport be it media, coach, administration or selection matters. A great cricketer can guarantee playing an elegant cover drive or bowl a well disguised googly but that’s about it. Being in the media, or becoming a coach, an administrator or a selector requires certain specific qualifications.

As Sanjay Manjrekar said while opposing Sunil Gavaskar’s views on the committee integrity is more important than stature for a selector. And no one can blame the five selectors for not doing their job with the utmost sincerity.

As Prasad pointed out ``together we have watched more than 200 first class matches during our tenure travelling across the length and breadth of the country to identify fresh talent from domestic cricket and groom the selected bunch through a systematic process and induct deserving players into the India A and further into the senior Indian team.’’ Under the circumstances constantly demeaning the panel because of its modest international record is unacceptable.

Gavaskar’s contention was that the five selectors with a combined experience of just 13 Tests were not enough to stand up to the superstars of the current Indian side. Prasad refuted the charge that they were ``bullied’’ by Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli. He said that the selection committee works in tandem with the coach and the captain and there is no question of being bullied. ``They have their roles and responsibilities and we as the selection committee have our roles and responsibilities,’’ said Prasad.

Hitting the nail on the head Prasad said it was a common misconception that players who have played more cricket have more power or knowledge but this is not a fact. ``If that is the case then the entire coaching unit, selection committee and all other relevant fields should be filled with only those who have had vast international playing experience. I don’t think this is right.’’

Prasad then proceeded to list the committee’s achievements. ``We have groomed around 35 new players and inducted them into the senior Indian teams across the three formats and we have developed sufficient bench strengths in all departments of the game.’’ He also pointed out that the Test team has won 11 out of 13 Test series and India has been ranked No 1 team for the last three years. ``We have an 80 to 85 percent success rate in ODIs. We were No 1 in the ODI rankings for a brief while till the semifinal loss in the World Cup. We have reached the Champions Trophy final and have won two Asia Cup tournaments in 2016 and 2018. We have won 11 out of 11 India A ODI series which includes four quadrangular contests and we won eight out of nine India A Test series.’’ No one can refute all this and if India occupies the No 1 position in the ICC Test rankings and No 2 in the ODI rankings at least some of the credit should go to the selectors for encouraging the right talent at the right time.

The chairman also felt the selection committee deserve credit for inducting Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya in the Test squad. Refuting the charge that the selectors lacked vision Prasad retorted ``if this committee lacked vision, then how did Jasprit Bumrah, who is predominantly considered a white-ball bowler, has been included in the Test team and he then becomes the No 1 Test bowler in ICC rankings? If we lacked vision, how was Hardik Pandya, who again was initially thought of being a T20 player, groomed for all-round duties across formats?” He further added that it was his team that picked two wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in the shorter formats and this has paid rich dividends.

Driving the point further Prasad pointed out that Ed Smith, the England and Wales Cricket Board selection committee chairman has played only one Test. Trevor Hohns who is the chairman of Cricket Australia’s selection committee has played only seven Tests. Delving into the past Prasad also cited the example of Raj Singh Dungarpur as selection committee chairman picking 16-year-old Sachin Tendulkar for the tour of Pakistan in 1989. Raj Singh incidentally never played international cricket but could anyone question his deep knowledge or intense feeling for Indian cricket?

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