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September 13, 2006
Yashpal Sharma and Gopal Sharma, two former Indian selectors, have reacted sharply to the recent statements of Kiran More, the outgoing chairman of the national selection committee. More had implied that the decision to include Sourav Ganguly in the Test squad for the home series against Sri Lanka in November 2005 was pre-planned by three of the five selectors.
More was quoted by Times Now, a news channel, as saying that three selectors had come to the meeting with a finalised squad. " ... three selectors walked into the meeting and said this is what they want. Greg Chappell [coach] and Rahul Dravid [captain] were also present. There is no further discussion."
Ganguly, who had earlier been stripped of Test captaincy, was one of three players, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rudra Pratap Singh being the other two. They were brought in at the expense of Zaheer Khan, Dinesh Karthik and Dheeraj Jadhav. More had then explained that Ganguly had been picked as a "batting allrounder" .
Since the interview was aired, VB Chandrashekhar, another selector in the same panel, has backed More's claims, leaving no doubt about the identity of the three selectors in question: Yashpal, Gopal and Pranab Roy.
Yashpal and Gopal, though, insisted that all decisions were taken collectively. "If he wants to reveal details, he should come on air and say all details," Yashpal told Cricinfo about the Chennai meeting . "I have given my view on air nearly a year back. I am not changing my stance. All other selectors gave their opinion and I gave mine. Everyone gave their own verdict. It was not as if three of us walked in with some previously-made decision.
"Ganguly was struggling in one-dayers, he was taking rest but the way he performed in Test cricket - he got a hundred in Zimbabwe - he deserved to be in the side. The whole nation voted for that. The whole media wanted Sourav to be in the side. It was not the way to treat a man who was the most successful captain for India. I felt that he had cricket in him and he deserved that on performance.
"Also, Ganguly has been picked in the team even after we finished our terms. He was taken to Pakistan. So why can't you ask him why Ganguly was picked then? If we three selectors voted for Ganguly that time then some other selectors must have picked him for Pakistan tour."
The other Sharma - Gopal - also backed the claims. "I don't know what he's saying," he said. "because the Chennai incident was a collective decision. When you have five selectors picking a side, you have to go by majority. It was discussed. Not as if we had decided everything before the meeting. It's never happened. You can rarely have all five selectors agreeing on a player."
"Nobody can say Zaheer Khan was dropped because of us," Yashpal continued, "because he hasn't found a place even after that. Why can't they pick him now? More is leaving his seat now, that's why he is saying all this out of frustration."
Gopal couldn't understand the fuss behind the other decisions. "The other selections have turned out to be good decisions," he said. "Dhoni was selected ahead of Karthik and he's proved his worth. RP Singh had a good tour of Pakistan and showed he deserved to be selected. If More felt strongly about anything, he should have said all this after the selection meeting. He should have said it in the press conference. There he said Ganguly was picked as an allrounder."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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