Nov 25, 2022: Elon Musk, the businessman and magnate, last week fired over 50 per cent of Twitter employees once he took over the social media company. The world was astounded at the way it was done, without a human care and thought of any kindness behind it.
There was no exit interview or interaction between the employees and the company and a call or a message was all that one apparently got as an adieu.
Reverberating with the unceremonious exits of thousands of Twitter, Amazon, Meta and several other such companies, one was surprised about the dreaded pink slip that was given to all the selectors of the Indian cricket team by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The loss in the semifinal stage of the T20 World Cup was the death knell for the wise men who failed to select the right winning squad for the prestigious tournament.
The selectors in the past have been called various names. However, two of India’s legendary cricketers, referred to them as ‘a bunch of Jokers’ and ‘court jesters and lame ducks’, which was pretty amusing at that time. Both were proven right. However, the Indian acceptance of ‘this is the way it is’ needs to inspire a change for the better in the future.
One did feel sorry for the Chetan Sharma-led selection committee, which did not receive any written or verbal brickbats. However, they had their photographs splashed in several print and digital media, with the word ‘sacked’ prominently displayed.
They did select a squad that had all the skills and experience to combine themselves into a forceful and winning unit. The Indian think tank of the coach, captain and the support staff was outsmarted both on and off the field by England. India’s loss needed fall guys and the easiest were ‘the wise men of Gotham’ – the selectors.
The BCCI, interestingly, since then has used the existing selectors to select the sides for India’s upcoming series.
The post of the selectors is now a well-remunerated one and is a full-time job and it, therefore, requires a professional approach. The most important task is in the selection of the selectors. There are certain criteria that are required to be met as regards the age being under 60 years as well as one should have played seven Test matches or 30 First-Class matches, etc. However, the most important appointment by the BCCI is the appointment of the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC).
The CAC selects the selectors and, therefore, the three members that represent it should have impeccable credentials. They, one feels, should have played over 25 Test matches and have a thorough knowledge of the game and what the position entails.
The BCCI are fortunate that they have Roger Binny as their president, Dilip Vengsarkar and Shubhangi Kulkarni in their Apex Committee, three Indian Test cricketers who would be ideal people to select a very competent CAC.
The selectors now are a professional outfit, wherein, the earlier requirement of five zonal representatives should be abolished. Earlier, this was necessary as the Ranji Trophy was played initially in their respective zones and thereafter teams qualified for the knock-out stage. In the present format, the zonal basis makes no sense as teams are now placed in groups from any part of India.
The five selectors, similar to selection committees in other cricket-playing countries of the world, need to have individuals with the best credentials and capabilities. They could all be from one state or zone if need be.
One feels that with the vast amount of cricket being played domestically, each selector needs to have his own team of assistant selectors. The job now entails much more than just watching selective matches but a thorough analysis of players and their performance. India is a vast cricket-playing country and the challenge is for one to ensure that every talented Indian cricketer is identified and spotted on time.
The talent-spotting programme, which was introduced under Vengsarkar many years ago, was a huge success. A similar approach should be conceptualised, with talent spotters from respective zones reporting to each of the five selectors. This would ensure a better coverage of unearthing aspiring cricketers from the junior to the senior-most level.
At present, the IPL and the Under-19 India performers have become the hotbed for quick and early recognition. This is not the best solution as there are several other cricketers playing in the domestic circuit who have not been chosen in the IPL and have long passed the age of 19. A good example of late bloomers is Suryakumar Yadav.
SKY, as he is popularly known, is batting like a man possessed, in limited-overs cricket. He has been a part of domestic cricket for many years and is at present 32 years old. He seems ready to play Test cricket, a format that evaded him till now.
The time has come for a radical change on the appointment, scope and deliverables of a national cricket selector at all levels of the game. A common structure should be introduced that covers the cricket associations as well.
The pink slips and sacking, one feels, is not the best way forward. A selector is, after all, only the facilitator and not the performer. The irony in this case was the facilitators became the fall guys whereas the ones who needed to perform are sitting unreprimanded.
This definitely needs a comprehensive change.
(Yajurvindra Singh is a former Test cricketer. Views expressed are personal.)