The new dispensation in the Board of Control for Cricket in India has appeared to make the right noises by getting Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman on an advisory panel and Rahul Dravid as the India A and India Under-19 coach. But a closer examination of some facts makes one wonder if indeed BCCI has made the right moves.
BCCI has not defined the role of the three-member panel that it calls the Cricket Advisory Committee. Nor has it specified how exactly its work would be different to that of the Technical Committee that is headed by India’s most prolific bowler and match winner, Anil Kumble. At the moment of writing, it does seem like the CAC runs parallel to the Technical Committee.
One of the first things to emerge from the first meeting of the CAC with the Board President Jagmohan Dalmiya and Secretary Anurag Thakur in Kolkata a few days ago should have been some kind of role definition. Instead, we heard that the men of eminence had suggested that the Board revive the Talent Research and Development Officer scheme.
The BCCI Secretary quickly acknowledged that as a creative suggestion. Pause for a moment before you applaud that recycled idea as a stroke of genius. And question the TRDO system being a parallel structure to the various selection panels that each State Association has got. Parallel structure, did you arch your eyebrows and ask?
Consider this. Since the Board conducts a number of tournaments at the first class and age-group level, it will be safe to say that there would be at least 135 selectors who are involved in picking 27 Ranji Trophy teams and perhaps another 135 who pick the 27 CK Nayudu Trophy under-23 squads, not to speak of those selecting the under-19 and under-16 teams.
Should these 250-odd selectors not be seen as those who recognise talent and reward it with spots in the assembly line for the Indian team? Or, are the powers that be tacitly questioning the ability to such selectors to do their jobs with the integrity that the positions demand? Has there really been any player who was worthy of India selection and has been denied a berth?
At a time when former cricketers have complained of the Indian cap being made handed out quite freely, it is only fair to imagine that there are no players that state selectors have overlooked and the TRDO system has stepped in to provide a solution. Should the National selectors not be speaking more with the State selectors for qualitative inputs on players?
I have recently read that Ishant Sharma was fast tracked to the Indian team because of TRDOs. Of course, TRDOs may have spoken highly of Ishant but well before he made his Ranji Trophy debut, he had played a series for India u-19 in England in the summer of 2006 after having played for Delhi and North Zone under-17 and under-19 teams from November 2004.
Talk of the disconcerting bounce caused by the strapping teenager were already doing the rounds when the then Chairman of Selectors Dilip Vengsarkar saw Ishant make his first-class debut at the Ferozshah Kotla in Delhi in November 2006. Vengsarkar was impressed but he had to wait to pick the youngster on a Test tour until India went to Bangladesh in May 2007.
To return to the rebranding exercise that BCCI has undertaken by bringing forth four men who were legends in their playing days, cosmetic changes have this habit of showing up just as that. The Board needs to be wary of that by marking the guard for all those who come in to bat well after they have changed from flannels to smart casuals and from spikes to moccasins.