The inside story September 27, 2005

What really happened in the Review Committee meeting?

Greg Chappell: keen on eliminating bias during team selection © AFP

A dramatic change in the composition of the national selection panel is on the cards after the review committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India recommended that the system of picking one selector from each zone be done away with. The review committee believed that this would greatly reduce the chances of players being picked on regional bias rather than merit.

According to sources close to the action in the meeting on Tuesday, Greg Chappell, the coach, was also strongly in favour of this move, and suggested that the best men ought to be picking the best possible XI to play for the country only on merit.

The review committee made several recommendations that will be taken up at the next working committee meeting of the board, to be held early next month - a salient one being that the selectors are considering a two-captain format, splitting the captaincy of the Test and one-day teams. The review committee believed that this would pose no problems for the players, for several senior members of the side had anyway played under more than one captain in their time.

Another aspect the review committee took strong exception to was the behaviour of certain members of the team on and off the field, and spoke of specific instances of misbehaviour during the tri-series in Sri Lanka. There is concern that the team as a whole could be affected if this behaviour went unchecked. "Discipline is a top priority, both on and off the field," the source revealed. "Indiscipline will not be tolerated at all, and Harbhajan Singh's recent outburst against Chappell - where he slammed him for double standards and instilling a sense of fear and insecurity - will be viewed seriously. At the very least, a reprimand from the board president is on the cards."

Sourav Ganguly: admitted that he had made an error in judgment when he spoke to the media about being asked to step down © AFP

It is also learned that Chappell brought up the sensitive issue of confidentiality, especially in matters of team selection, strongly in the meeting. He is believed to have stressed the need for selectors and officials not to take feedback he has given about a specific player back to the same player. Also he is believed to have told the review committee that he was concerned about the fact that the team was not always fielding the best possible eleven, for whatever reason.

It has also come to light that Chappell told the panel that he had sent a detailed email on Sourav Ganguly only in keeping with his aim to make the Indian team one of the best sides in the world. He believed that he needed to clearly communicate to the board his continued vision and "commitment to excellence" for which he was hired in the first place.

Switching over to the other side, it is learned that Ganguly brought written documentation to answer each and every question Chappell raised in his email to the board. However, after Ganguly had made his points to the panel, they returned the copies of the papers he had brought, to avoid any chance of a leak going out from the board's side.

While Ganguly was largely calm and composed as he went over one point after another, it is understood that he became a touch emotional when it came to the allegation that he was running away from fast bowling. "What will the public think of me?" he asked, and went on to cite the example of the Melbourne Test of 2003, when he came up the order and batted at No. 4 in an attempt to give Sachin Tendulkar, who was struggling a bit for form, some breathing space in the middle order.

Ganguly also admitted that he had made an error in judgment when he spoke to the media about being asked to step down from the captaincy, after the third day of the Bulawayo Test. In the same vein, though, it is learned that Jagmohan Dalmiya, the former president of the BCCI, asked Chappell to refrain from sending emails and text messages to friends connected with cricket, and friends in the media.

The review committee also recommended that there was no need, at this juncture, to hand long-terms contracts to the likes of Ian Frazer and Charles Krebs, who have been enlisted to help the team on a series-by-series basis.

Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo