India news September 26, 2012

Amarnath in running to head selection panel

The BCCI holds its annual general meeting in Mumbai on Thursday with the constitution of a new national selection committee dominating the agenda. Only one member of the current selection panel, Mohinder Amarnath, is eligible for retention, and even his position is not guaranteed given the number of contenders from all five zones.

Amarnath, who turned 62 this Monday, was the North Zone representative in the five-man committee, which was Indian cricket's first paid selection panel. The committee was headed by former Indian opener Kris Srikkanth (South) and included Narendra Hirwani (Central), Surendra Bhave (West) and Raja Venkat (East). Amarnath replaced the former Indian batsman Yashpal Sharma last year.

Logic would suggest Amarnath is the frontrunner to head the new panel given his experience, pedigree and credibility. "Where he has to be soft and polite, he was exactly that and when he needed to be firm he was not shy about speaking his mind," a co-selector from current selection panel said about Amarnath. According to him, being part of the current panel gave Amarnath an advantage as he can guide the new members.

However, if the BCCI top brass decides against Amarnath, or if he opts out, the next best option is likely to be former Indian fast bowler Roger Binny, the unanimous choice from the South Zone. Binny, a contemporary of Amarnath's, spent some time at the Asian Cricket Council in Kuala Lumpur before moving back to Bangalore, where he is part of Anil Kumble's team running the Karnataka State Cricket Association.

Another straightforward decision is likely to come from the West Zone in Abey Kuruvilla, the Mumbai fast bowler who featured in 10 Tests for India. Kuruvilla is chairman of the junior national selection committee, which picked the Under-19 World Cup winning squad. He is also chairman of the Mumbai selection panel.

The outcome of the remaining two zones is not so clear, though, with a lot of lobbying taking place to finalise a name from the East and Central Zones. Members from the various states from each of those zones were reportedly locked in late-night meetings on Wednesday to pick the eventual candidate. For the East Zone, the one-time Indian opening pair of Deep Dasgupta and Devang Gandhi are pitted against each other. Former Bengal left-arm spinner Arup Bhattacharya is also in the running.

Similarly there is a tussle between former Uttar Pradesh captain Gynanendra Pandey and Sunil Chaturvedi, a former UP wicketkeeper who is one of the longest serving match referees in domestic cricket. Unconfirmed reports also have brought Praveen Amre, the former Indian batsman, into the fold. Though Amre originally hails from Mumbai, he played for Rajasthan for seven years and for Railways for three. He was the coach of Mumbai between 2007 and 2010, during which Mumbai were the Ranji Trophy champions three times. He also coached India A at two Emerging Players' tournaments and on a tour of England.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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