Chairman of selectors under fire March 4, 2007

Indian board comes down hard on Vengsarkar

Cricinfo staff

Dilip Vengsarkar: [Dravid] insisted on having Sehwag and that made the difference © GNNphotos

The Indian board has taken strong exception to a remark by Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of selectors, regarding Virender Sehwag's inclusion in India's World Cup squad. Vengsarkar was quoted by a news channel on Saturday as saying that the out-of-form Sehwag was selected only because of the insistence Rahul Dravid, the Indian captain .

"When I was leading India, I never got the team I wanted and I didn't want Rahul to go through the same. He insisted on having Sehwag and that made the difference." The board said it wasn't proper for the chief selector to make such statements and that such remarks could only lead to fresh controversies ahead of India's World Cup campaign in the Caribbean.

"It is not right to comment on team selection now," said Ratnakar Shetty, the chief administrative officer of the board. "I wish Vengsarkar had refrained from making such comments at a time when the team had already left for the showpiece event. The Code of Conduct applies to everybody, players and selectors."

Rajiv Shukla, the vice-president of the board, echoed the same sentiment: "The chairman of the selection committee should not make such a remark. It creates unnecessary controversy before the Cup. He should refrain from making such statements. The team is selected by the five selectors in consultation with the captain and coach. Selection issues should not come out in the open."

Vengsarkar admitted Sehwag did not feature in the initial scheme of things due to his prolonged run-drought but enjoyed backing from some quarters in the team. "It was a bit of gamble [to have him in the side] ... but I think he has done extremely well in the past. Besides, he has won a lot of matches for India. We are hoping that he would do well in the World Cup."

He backed Irfan Pathan, another player selected despite being out of form, and hoped he would come good in the next few weeks. "Both Irfan and Sehwag have fantastic records and they have done extremely well in the past. Again, form is important as well. But they have experience, which makes a lot of difference. If there are tight games, experience can win you matches."

Vengsarkar also justified the decision to appoint Sachin Tendulkar as the vice-captain of the side. "Rahul is an experienced player, so is Sachin. If something happens to Dravid, God forbid, Sachin can lead." He added that Greg Chappell had done a "reasonable" job as coach and felt he should continue with the team even after the World Cup.