MSK Prasad to head India's selection panel
Former wicketkeeper MSK Prasad has been chosen to succeed Sandeep Patil as the chairman of India's selection panel. The decision was taken at the BCCI's 87th annual general meeting in Mumbai, after the board had invited applicants for the selection job for the first time.
Prasad had been part of the previous selection panel headed by Patil since November last year. Former offspinner Sarandeep Singh, and former batsmen Gagan Khoda, Devang Gandhi and Jatin Paranjpe were the other four selectors named in the five-member panel.
Last week the BCCI had announced it would choose national selectors for the men's, women's and junior selection panels via an interview process for the first time, discarding the previously used zonal method. On Wednesday, a top BCCI official said that despite the three new selectors in the panel - Sarandeep, Gandhi and Paranjpe - belonging to different zones, the appointments had been made on the basis of interviews conducted over the last two days.
However, by picking a five-member selection panel, the BCCI went against one of the Lodha Committee recommendations that was approved by the Supreme Court in its July 18 order: to trim the selection panel to three members. The Lodha Committee also said only former India Test players should be eligible to be appointed to the men's and women's selection committees, provided they had been retired from the game for at least five years. Khoda and Paranjpe have not played Test cricket.
The BCCI's eligibility criteria, however, stated: "He/She should have represented the Indian team either in a Test match or a one-day international or more than 50 first-class matches in India, in a team selected by the BCCI to be considered for the senior national selection committee."
BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke said the selection process involved only himself, BCCI president Anurag Thakur and chief executive Rahul Johri, and that they had not sought input from either the Cricket Advisory Committee or other former cricketers.
"A lot of applicants came and we also got a first-hand insight into what their ideas are, what they wish to do and their vision," Shirke said after the AGM. "We have got an insight into the kind of manpower that is available to take up different positions in different places within the BCCI. We were very impressed by the inputs given by almost all the candidates."
When asked about Prasad's relative lack of experience as international cricketer, Shirke said: "Two selectors had finished their four-year terms, the maximum that is granted to anybody. We have filled it up and the senior most person has been elevated to the chairman's post."
Prasad said his appointment was a "great honour". "I have a clear-cut vision about how we are heading to the 2019 World Cup. I always have kept notes about what I want to do for the 2017 Champions Trophy, for the 2019 World Cup. There is a lot of planning. The best thing is we have watched as many domestic matches as possible. We have done tours to Zimbabwe, Australia only at the end of the season. Because we have watched so much domestic cricket last year we have a succession chart and jotted down names for three different formats. Sandy bhai's team has done a fantastic job. It makes more sense for us to continue with it and move ahead."
Prasad made his international debut in 1998, in an ODI against Bangladesh. He played the first of his six Tests in 1999 against New Zealand at Mohali. In 2000, however, he was dropped from India's Test squad and did not play international cricket again.
He played 96 first-class matches, scored 4021 runs at an average of 27.73 and effected 266 dismissals. He also hit 1719 runs in 88 List A games. Prasad was appointed Andhra's captain for the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy season, but announced his retirement in 2008. He also served as Andhra Cricket Association's director of cricket for six years.
Shirke also said the tenure of the current ombudsman Justice (retired) AP Shah had come to an end, but the BCCI had not decided on a new appointment. "We have to look at a fresh appointment," he said. "'Fresh appointment' includes everything - it could be extension, it could be new and that is to be decided. We have other urgent matters that we need to address even before that."
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun