When Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar wrote the constitution of the republic of India in 1950, he clearly had the social divide in mind and was looking to provide a level playing field for everyone in due course of time. That is why when he proposed reservations for the economically and socially backward, he added the stipulation of time to it so that one generation of those people can get all the opportunities that were only the rights of upper-caste in those days and once everyone is at the same level then reservations were supposed to come off. However, greedy politicians and their vote-bank agenda has now reversed the scenario and the so called “non-backward class” now finds itself in minority as there are only 35-40% seats available for them to grab on merit as the rest are already reserved for “numerous other categories”.
I can draw a similar parallelism between the above scenario and Indian cricket. If you go back to pre-Independence era, when Cricket first began in India as an active sport, It was born in Mumbai and played mainly by a small community called Parsis. In fact, some even claim that Parsis invented the game that was adapted by the Brits later. The Hindus and Muslims were to join the Parsis later as the Hindustan nation got engaged in a quadrangular communal tournament on a yearly basis with brits in the late 19th and early 20th century. The influx of the cricketers was mainly from Mumbai, predominantly because the infrastructure was there and the game was either not known as much, not fancied much, in the villages and remote interiors of the country. Thus even after the independent India entered cricket you saw 60-70% of the team comprising of Mumbaikars, that is when BCCI deployed a selection panel that would comprise of selected distinguished cricketers from different parts of India, so that the whole nation gets fairly represented and not just one region.
Now about 40-50 years later we have a captain that hails from an almost unknown state of Jharkahnd, a vice captain from Najafgarh, World Cup’s Player of the tournament hails from Chandigarh, and the bowling captain from Shrirampur. Even players like Suresh Raina from Gaziabad are now permanent fixtures in the squad. Thus one can confidently say that the objective that BCCI set about 40 years ago is now accomplished. Which begs me to ask a serious question: ” Do we still need a selection committee comprising on 5 individuals representing 5 zones?” My personal view is, no we don’t, what we need is 5 distinguished cricketers who would helps us pick the best 15-16 men squads to help us stay at #1.
Just take a look at recent squad selected for England tour. 13 of the 17 men in the squad announced pick themselves automatically. Yuvraj’s pick could be debated as he has not been able to cement his place for 10 years after giving numerous chances and has not been able to negotiate even mediocre spin of Brad Hogg. However an argument can be made that the World Cup player of the tournament deserves one last chance. Now we come to the other three Mukund, Sreesanth, and Saha. I don’t have any problems with these 3 players, but my problem is the selectors have chosen them over some other promising players.
I was in Barbados and saw Mukund play fast bowling, he has a flawed technique and can’t keep his head steady while playing his shot, but somehow he is preferred over Vijay who scored runs and a ton against Australia? If the reason is “Vijay’s recent slump in form” then why Mukund and why not Ajinkya Rahane, who has better technique and has scored more runs than Mukund in any given domestic season? I think the answer is Mukunf is from South Zone and Poor Rahane from West. West already has Zaheer, Sachin and Munaf in the team, so Rahane loses out. Now other most atrocious one is Parthiv being replaced by Saha. They selected Parthiv for WI tests, didn’t get a single game yet and they dropped him, why? Wait, I know why, Ojha, the only representation from the East has to make way for a seamer, so another East pawn has to be in, so enters Saha. How unfair to poor Parthiv. Last one is Sreesanth, even after the disastrous World Cup, he manages to stay in the squad while Irfan Pathan, after a good IPL season can’t get in. Vinay Kumar (from South) can be selected based IPL credentials but Irfan can’t, I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that the chairman of selectors is from South Zone.
The zonal politics is keeping promising kids like Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane out while Irfan Pathan and Rohit Sharma have not been given their due chance in test squad of late. In the last 9 years, Mumbai has won the Ranji Trophy 5 times and only players to represent Team India in Test cricket since 2002 are Sachin, Zaheer, and Munaf. I am not saying this because I am a Mumbaikar, but because I am cricket lover and want the best team to represent my country. If you look at Australia 9 of their test players are from NSW or Queensland, the teams that have won 6 of the last 9 domestic championships. I am merely asking for performance based selection, that’s all!!!
-Nikhil Sharad Jadhav