BCCI revamps selection committee, announces new Test centres
The rejigging of the senior selection committee, and the announcement of six new Test centres - Pune, Ranchi, Indore, Rajkot, Visakhapatnam and Dharamsala - were among the major cricket-related decisions made at the BCCI's AGM in Mumbai. While former India wicketkeeper MSK Prasad replaced Roger Binny as the South Zone selector, Gagan Khoda was drafted in place of Rajinder Singh Hans from Central Zone.
The BCCI president Shashank Manohar felt the shake-up was necessary as he did not want Binny's son, Stuart, to be done "injustice".
"As I said, the perception [of conflict of interest] has to change. I said there should not be injustice on Stuart Binny also," Manohar said. "If he is a deserving player he should not get not flak from media that because he is Roger Binny's son he is playing. We can't destroy his career also."
Prasad's candidature, on the other hand, was strongly backed by his home body, the Andhra Cricket Association, and the only other person said to be in the running was former Tamil Nadu and India batsman WV Raman. The TNCA, it is learnt, did not aggressively push Raman's case as Manohar had already zoomed in on Prasad. "[TNCA president] N Srinivasan was very clear that no favours should be sought from anyone at the AGM," a TNCA source said.
Prasad had put in his papers as ACA cricket operations director - a position he has held for six years now - close to a week ago to ensure that his nomination did not violate any conflict-of-interest norms. Prasad felt his elevation would "give hope to all those players coming from nooks and corners of the country".
"I am a representative of the minnows of Indian cricket," Prasad told ESPNcricinfo. "When somebody from some state can rise to this position, then as a player also anybody can rise to that position."
On how he would approach his new job, Prasad said he would look to replicate what he had done in Andhra: "I am very clear that the systems we have adopted in Andhra - the clarity of selection policy - which if I can place in front of you or anybody, it will be appreciated."
The inclusion of Khoda, the former Rajasthan and India batsman, was a bit of a surprise. Manohar explained the decision to drop Hans in characteristically pithy fashion: "Looking at his performance we decided to go for a new one."
The decision to grant Test status to six new centres, Manohar said, was because of the glut of home Tests India were set to play in 2016. "Next year we are going to have about 12 Test matches in India and each stadium has all the facilities of hosting international games," Manohar said.
There was little discussion, however, on whether the NCA would stay in Bangalore or be moved out. Niranjan Shah, the newly appointed chairman of the NCA board, told ESPNcricinfo that a decision on this would be made after the committee was fully constituted. "We didn't discuss this at the meeting," Shah said. "After Diwali, our committee will meet and discuss the future course of action. The whole committee has to be formed." Shah also confirmed that the BCCI did not discuss the issue of DRS.
There was also no discussion on the Cricket Advisory Committee that includes Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. However, the board secretary Anurag Thakur confirmed that "all the three will remain".
Thakur also formally announced the introduction of contracts for women cricketers. "The women have also come under the contracted players. There will be two categories: category A and B. And they will paid Rs 15 lakh and Rs 10 lakh each," he said.
Arun Venugopal is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo