John Wright's tenure as India coach may have ended more than a year ago, and though he was credited with the team's turnaround in partnership with Sourav Ganguly, in his words, the picture wasn't as rosy as we are given to believe. His book John Wright's Indian Summer has revelations about team selection which has elicited reactions from former selectors. Here are a few extracts (published in Mumbai-based Mid-Day) followed by the reactions
Chandu Borde: 'After all, he was present in all our meetings as a coach and he never expressed such things in the meetings'
Team selection and the zonal selection policy
The first six or seven selections were straight forward. But when it got down to the marginal selections, those last three or four spots that determine the balance of the
team and your ability to develop new players, the zonal factor kicked in and
things would get interesting. It was easy to tell when selectors had come to a meeting with an agenda i.e. to their damnedest to get one or two players for their zones into the team. If their
boys weren't picked, they tended to cross their arms, clam up and take no
further part in the meeting.
"It is something that's been happening for long. It is usually two or three players who get to sneak in through such ways. But one should also understand that the selectors are under a lot of pressure." - Anshuman Gaekwad, former India coach.
"It's nothing new. But it happens everywhere, in Australia, New Zealand... everywhere. The selectors are there to promote their players. They also have to retain their seat and please their zone." - Ajit Wadekar, former India captain.
"As a selector, I have never been involved in anything like that. But you never know, there are good selectors and there are bad selectors. My zone has never pressurised me into anything like that." - Sanjay Jagdale, former national selector.
Double-standards in selection
VVS Laxman and Kaif are examples of outstanding performers who always seemed to be only one or two failures away from having their places questioned. The exceptions are the super stars. There's still reluctance to give an under performing or unfocussed big name a blunt message by having him sit out a tour or a few one-dayers.
"I think he is trying to sell his book by raking up all these controversies. There is a lesson for us in this - these mercenaries come to India, stay here for four-five years, they know nothing about our cricket or our system, when they are here they agree with everyone but once they go back after raking in the moolah, they come out with such allegations. Where do you think so many young players came from if the selectors were not doing their work?" - Ashok Malhotra, former East Zone selector
"Wright is exposing himself by writing totally untrue matters like this after five years. After having earned over 200,000 dollars annually for five years, it is obvious that he wants to make some more money by writing such things so that the book sells well. He never owned his responsibilities or took blame during his tenure as coach. Why has he not explained his acts of dumping players to please someone." - TA Sekhar, former India fast bowler.
"After all, he was present in all our meetings as a coach and he never expressed such things in the meetings. He used say that he was happy about the players given to him." - Chandu Borde, former chairman of selectors.
Sunil Gavaskar's appointment as batting consultant
"Two days before the first Test (in Bangalore, against Australia 2004), I was notified that the legendary Sunil Gavaskar would be joining us as a batting consultant. I couldn't work out how it had happened. Gavaskar solved the mystery by revealing in a team meeting that he had a text message from Ganguly. I was far from happy because as the head coach I should have had the final say on support staff issues."
"He is now criticising Sourav for bringing in Gavaskar. If he had a problem why did he not resign there and then?" - Ashok Malhotra.
"I was really surprised about what he said about Sourav. I understand that you can always express your opinion in public about your experiences. But John should have gone by the unwritten rule that's followed everywhere in cricket--never disclose internal matters." - Sambaran Banerjee, former selector.
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