Heat at home has BCCI on back foot
India's defeat to South Africa at Durban on Wednesday has triggered alarm bells at home, with a senior official of the Indian board joining Members of Parliment in sharp criticism of the team's performance, prompting board president Sharad Pawar to send Dilip Vengsarkar, the chief selector to South Africa.
Pawar told the NDTV news channel that he'd discussed the issue with Vengsarkar and "requested him to go to South Africa immediately or as early as possible ... and communicate the feelings of the countrymen."
It's not clear when Vengsarkar will leave for South Africa but the Test squad is to be picked in Mumbai on November 30. "His date of depature for South Africa will be decided when he attends the November 30 meeting. The plan is he would reach there before the first Test (to be held from Dec 15-19 at Johannesburg)," Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI's Chief Administrative Officer, said Saturday.
In a separate conversation with reporters in New Delhi, Pawar made it clear that there was no question of replacing Greg Chappell, India's coach, at this stage. "There is no question of sacking him. Till the contract is there, there is no need to interfere in it. It is true that their performance was not up to the mark and there is tremendous scope to improve. But one should not forget that it is the same team, the same captain and the same coach which had given extremely good results in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
He pointed a finger at the tour schedule as a possible reason for the poor form. "Whenever a team visits any country they should get three to four matches to warm up. The Indians got only one match and this [Durban] was the second match. That might be the reason their performance was not good."
The issue of the defeat was raised in Parliament - Pawar is an MP and federal minister - on Thursday by the MPs from the BJP and the Left. And soon after that Shashank Manohar, a BCCI vice-president, was quoted as saying the team members shouldn't be paid a single penny.
Shetty responded to Manohar's statement by ruling out a pay cut but acknowledging that the issue of performance-based contracts, already in the pipeline, would be discussed once the squad returns from South Africa. "The proposal is to take into consideration the performance of the team as a whole and not individuals for players' match fees," Shetty told PTI on Saturday.
"For example if the match fees is Rs 100, Rs 60 may be directly given to the players and the rest kept back. If the team wins, the players would get a bonus too along with the amount retained.
"But in case of a failure, the amount kept in abeyance would not be paid," Shetty explained.