India gets first paid selection committee
Kris Srikkanth, the former India opener, will head India's first-ever paid national selection committee which will be officially appointed during the two-day annual general body meeting starting in Mumbai tomorrow. In another significant development, a new post - vice-chairman of the IPL - has been created to accommodate Niranjan Shah, the outgoing secretary of the board.
The rest is a formality after senior officials of the ruling group, headed by Sharad Pawar, wrapped up two days of informal meetings during which they decided on the reshuffle.
As expected, the selection committee will also comprise Yashpal Sharma (North), Narendra Hirwani (Central), Surendra Bhave (West) and Raja Venkat (East). The selectors will be paid Rs 25 lakh (US$53,625) per year after the BCCI's working committee announced new eligibility norms which automatically rules out the present group headed by Dilip Vengsarkar.
Pawar, the BCCI president, makes way for Shashank Manohar, the lawyer from Nagpur, as agreed upon previously and it has become clear that the ruling group's nominees across the board will be elected unanimously. N Srinivasan, the previous treasurer who also heads IPL finalists Chennai Superkings, will take over as secretary from Shah, who has been the public face of the BCCI, in India and abroad, and has represented the board at various ICC meetings. MP Pandove, the joint secretary from Chandigarh, is the new treasurer.
"We received only one nomination (each) for the post of Secretary, Joint Secretary, Treasurer and five Vice-Presidents. Their names would be announced only tomorrow at the AGM as per the constitutional procedure," Pawar told reporters in Mumbai.
An interesting sidelight of the day's discussions were the hectic meetings that were held over the appointment of the new national selectors. Apparently, there were attempts to get at least one of the new eligibility norms, which bars selectors from holding posts with state associations, amended to let Vengsarkar stay on.
"But a majority of the officials who discussed this issue were against such an amendment, as it was a paid job," the sources said. "Besides, Vengsarkar had made it clear that he was not willing to give up his post as vice-president of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). There was no way out."
According to the new rules, the selectors should also have played for India, or more than 25 first-class matches. The officials, however, have tweaked another rule to accommodate Hirwani, the former India legspinner, who retired from first-class cricket two years ago. The BCCI had earlier specified 10-year gap from the time a cricketer retires for him to be eligible as a national selector but this cut-off now applies to international cricket in the case of those who have played for India. Hirwani last appeared for India in 1996, in a Test against South Africa in Kolkata.
In the event, Srikkanth takes over at a crucial time - his new panel will select the team for the Australia home series starting on October 9 - when the Indian team enters a transitional phase with senior players like Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman in the final stretch of their careers.
"This is his first stint as a selector and there is a lot of hope and some apprehension," said the sources. "But he has proved himself previously as coach of the India A team, and has been in touch with the game at the highest level as a media figure."
Srikkanth will not be able to continue with his media assignments now, though officials have decided that his celebrity brand endorsements "will not be a problem".
The board has also finalised the heads of some of its crucial committees, and Lalit Modi, who heads the IPL and Champions League, will head the marketing arm. Rajiv Shukla, who will be replaced as vice-president, will head the finance committee that oversees the board's revenues. Manohar is expected to retain control over the important fixtures committee that decides on match venues and schedules.
What this essentially means, the sources said, is that "the negotiations and meetings are over, and what will happen now at the AGM is just a formality". Apart from these appointments, the AGM will also endorse a series of internal reports, including its annual report for the previous season.