17 February 2020 03:12 PM

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PARTAB RAMCHAND | 13 NOVEMBER, 2019

Stop This Selector Bashing

The selectors are aware that they are in a no win situation.


Selector bashing seems to be the in thing these days. First we had Farokh Engineer terming the current national selectors as “a Mickey Mouse selection committee’’ poking fun at their collective limited international experience. And now we have Yuvraj Singh saying that we need better selectors adding that “their thinking in terms of modern day cricket is not up to the mark.’’

It is well known that selectors never get any praise and are only criticized. From “bunch of jokers’’ to the derisive “five wise men’’ and worse the barbs fly thick and fast. They obviously cannot please everyone and are sitting ducks for potshots. Some of the comments on the selectors can be pretty harsh and uncharitable. It is always easier to criticize than to praise and these days it appears more fashionable too. After all, every cricket fan is an expert when it comes to picking a team so selector bashing is pretty common.

The selectors are aware that they are in a no win situation. Some years ago former Indian pace bowler TA Sekhar, then on the selection committee told me that he was well aware of what awaited him when he was nominated for the post. “I knew there would be only criticism. So I just developed a thick hide and now the adverse comments don't really bother me,’’ he said. Selectors and thick skins have necessarily to go together.

Selectors have a thankless task. A few years ago a website carried a scathing article terming the selectors as `five blind men’. The piece was so lop-sided that it defied logic, betrayed lack of judgment and understanding and went beyond all decent norms.

Do selectors ever receive praise? Oh, I suppose so in a grudging sort of way. But they are more remembered for their foibles rather than any bold choices or hunches. Indian cricket has had several examples of inspired selections, young players who were given their big break at the right time and made good. Unfortunately these are hardly remembered but they are taken apart for their mistakes.

Let us spare a thought for the selectors. They can select only about 15 players. And this is out of a number of suitable candidates. They have to examine the records from various angles. They have to juggle the form shown in instant cricket and the longer game. They have to judge the player's class and skill, technique and temperament. Is he an ideal player for Test cricket or one-day cricket? Is he a good player against pace bowling or a better player of spin bowling? Is he a good prospect for bouncier pitches or turning tracks? How is his record abroad vis a vis at home? And what of his fielding, so very important in the limited overs version? Is he too old? Is he being `rushed'? Does his fitness level come up to international standards? There are so many aspects to be considered in getting the combination right.

In selection matters, predictably enough most of the players choose themselves. It is the borderline cases – generally two or three - that cause problems, heartaches and controversies. This is where the arguments and harsh and unfair comments start. And the critics’ viewpoints are so one-sided that frequently one finds little sympathy for them. Criticizing just for the sake of criticizing is something not to be considered seriously.

In the case of the present selection committee their task is made even more arduous as there are a number of talented youngsters and not everyone can be given an opportunity. They have to wait for their turn even as the selectors do a bit of juggling in getting the right combination.

Finally, too much is being made of the limited international experience of the present committee. A cricketer with considerable international experience may be a great player but this does not automatically make him a good selector for which several other qualities are required. Dedication to the game, commitment to their task and the time to travel widely and see the players and matches first hand. In the ultimate analysis the Indian team is performing admirably and that I suppose should be the bottom line in judging a selection committee’s work.
 

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