India news January 5, 2016

Former India selectors question Lodha proposals on selection

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Chopra: Three-man selection panel will be a challenge

Pruning the national selection committee from five to three, as the Lodha report has recommended, would be a bad idea given the size of the country and the number of first-class teams involved. That's the opinion of three former selectors - Dilip Vengsarkar, Kiran More and Sanjay Jagdale - who say that the increased workload cannot be offset by the proposed Talent Committee that will do the basic scouting.

One of the key reforms proposed by the Lodha committee, which submitted its various recommendations on Monday, was to limit the selection panel to three former players, all Test cricketers, retired at least five years prior to their appointment. According to the Lodha committee, a Talent Committee would facilitate the national selectors, reduce their workload and effectively "increase the authority" of the panel.

But all the former selectors ESPNcricinfo spoke to disagreed. "India is such a vast country. At the moment the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy [the domestic Twenty20 tournament] is taking place across four venues. Suppose there are three selectors, then how many games can they watch?" More, the former Indian wicketkeeper, said. According to More, it would not be the right decision to adopt the same structure that is in place in countries like Australia, which have only a handful of first-class teams.

More felt at least four selectors are required, but he was happy to have the four best men from around the country chosen instead of zonal representation, which has been the norm for long and opens up the possibility of nepotism.

Former Madhya Pradesh allrounder Jagdale, who served two terms as a national selector between 2000 and 2008 as part two selection panels, said that the five-man panel was a "proven formula", so why change that now.

Former India captain Vengsarkar said he would stick to five-selectors policy. "The game has spread even to the small cities. The BCCI is sending grants to every association and they in turn are creating the infrastructure to encourage youngsters to play the game. So the player pool has increased now," Vengsarkar, who is now the director of the National Cricket Academy, said. He pointed out the proposed Talent Committee has already been put in place by the BCCI, with the plan to appoint 30 talent and research development officers (TRDOs) comprising three scouts at the Under-16 and Under-19 levels each, across the five zones.

Asked whether three selectors would not be enough, given the 30 scouts on the junior circuit providing feedback, Vengsarkar felt more is still better. "It always helps to have more views and opinions on a particular selection at times," he said.

According to More, relying on talent scouts was never enough. "Recommendations are fine. But you have to see the player yourself, you have to study the conditions. One guy could score a century but a on a pata (flat) wicket whereas another batsman might score 50 on a difficult wicket."

As for the proposal on the panel comprising only Test players, Vengsarkar and More differed. More preferred a mix, keeping in the mind the importance of limited-overs cricket and how it would not be correct to ignore former players who might have been good in the shorter formats but missed out on playing Tests. Vengsarkar felt if a player had dealt with the rigours of Test cricket successfully, he could easily adapt his thinking to the shorter formats even if he might never had played or excelled at them.

Jagdale did not want to comment whether having a Test cap was an important prerequisite for being a selector. "It would not be fair for me to say anything," he said. "I was a non-Test playing selector for such a long period."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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