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News

Agarkar frontrunner to be the new India men's chairman of selectors

Former bowler has played 26 Tests and 191 ODIs and has experience of being on a selection panel in domestic cricket

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
30-Jun-2023
Ajit Agarkar at the IPL auction for Delhi Capitals, Kochi, December 23, 2022

Ajit Agarkar at the IPL auction for Delhi Capitals in 2022  •  BCCI

Former India bowler Ajit Agarkar is the frontrunner to be the next India men's chairman of selectors after applying to the vacant spot in the selection committee. The BCCI advertised on June 22 for the vacancy that has not been filled since February when the last chairman of selectors, Chetan Sharma, resigned following a news channel sting operation on him. Agarkar applied on June 29 evening, a day before the deadline. If selected, the 45-year-old Agarkar, who played 26 Tests and 191 ODIs for India, will become the most experienced member of the panel, and thus also the chairman of selectors.
Chetan represented North Zone in the panel, so Agarkar's appointment will result in the panel having two selectors from West Zone, Salil Ankola being the other one. In the BCCI constitution, drafted as per the RM Lodha-committee recommendations, there is no mention of selectors being appointed on a zonal basis; just that the five selectors should have been retired for at least five years and played a certain number of matches. While the BCCI has followed an unwritten rule of picking a selector from each of the five zones traditionally, the advertisement for the role never specified it was looking for a candidate from a specific zone.
Shiv Sunder Das, S Sharath and Subroto Banerjee are the other three selectors. With the most international experience among them, Das serves as the chairman as of now.
For a team in transition, as India is, a settled selection panel with vision, clarity and continuity is of utmost importance. But the selection committee has been anything but settled since last year when the BCCI moved away from the convention of giving a chairman two terms and asked for new applications for Chetan's role following the semi-final loss in the T20 World Cup. However, the board failed to attract a better option, and re-elected Chetan the chairman of selectors only for the sting operation leading to his resignation, which has never been acknowledged by the BCCI.
One big challenge for India is that the chairman of selectors is paid just over INR 1 crore per year. Any former cricketer easily makes more with work in the media, which comes without the scrutiny a national selector faces, and also coaching gigs in T20 leagues.
Agarkar himself was part of the Delhi Capitals' coaching staff in the IPL apart from doing media work. Capitals' Twitter handle on June 29 announced Agarkar, and Shane Watson too, had parted ways with them. Agarkar has also served as a chairman of selectors for Mumbai in domestic cricket from 2017 to 2019, when the entire panel abruptly stepped down.
Agarkar brings the heft and the experience that the BCCI is looking for in a perspective chairman of selectors, but it remains to be seen if the board will review the compensation for the selectors.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo