India’s senior selection committee came under a serious scrutiny on Tuesday (May 8) after their decision to pick Karun Nair over Mayank Agarwal for the one-off Test against Afghanistan, scheduled to be played in Bangalore on June 14.
Nair was recalled in the Test team in place of Virat Kohli, who will skip the Afghanistan Test for his maiden county stint with Surrey. On the other hand, Mayank, who has scored over 2000 runs in the just-concluded Indian domestic season, was ignored because of the 'unofficial diktat' – as per which a player will need to first perform for the India ‘A’ team before they can be considered for the national selection.
As per the reports in Cricketnext, India U-19 and ‘A’ team coach – Rahul Dravid along with the national selectors have mutually agreed that the ideal feeder system is to first have players perform in the ‘A’ team before they are rewarded with India caps.
However, some of the BCCI officials don’t seem to endorse viewpoint as they feel that it gives out the wrong signal to the youngsters, who are sweating it out in tournaments like Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
In an exclusive interview with CricketNext, a senior BCCI official anonymously stated: “The selection of the India ‘A’ team by the selectors has indeed exposed the selectors and the selection policies to a lot of criticism. India ‘A’ team selection was never really scrutinised earlier since these tours were always to give exposure to the performers and to the established as well. These tours were preparation. Now apparently, it is reliably learnt that Dravid has put forth a policy that only if one performs for India ‘A’ should he be given an India cap. If this is indeed the case then it is alarming at different levels.”
Another BCCI official supported the same sentiments and said that one cannot forget the domestic grind of players.
“Firstly, the policy has not been discussed at any forum in the BCCI. Secondly, though the selectors may come up with a consistent policy, it needs to be thought through and should not be a half-baked idea being implemented. India’s premier domestic tournament is the Ranji Trophy and performance in that tournament has to count for something more than merely being selected for an ‘A’ tour where even the playing XI would be decided by the coach and the captain. If the prerequisite for an India call-up is to play ‘A’ team cricket then the Ranji Trophy does lose significance and that is unacceptable,” the BCCI official told CricketNext.
“Thirdly, the ‘A’ tour circuit is a very disorganised structure and depends upon a lot of factors and if you notice, last year had only two tours, one where we visited South Africa for 2 multi-day games and a one day series and the other where New Zealand visited us for 2 multi-day games and 5 limited-over games. Fourthly, some of the selections on these tours are being done on the players’ performance in the IPL and this is alarming as well because it lends another impetus to the players in the IPL rather than the ones slogging away on the first-class scene. Team composition of an IPL franchise may bench a superb Indian player at the cost of a foreign player while another may get chances with another franchise and is therefore more on the radar of the selectors who are falling into this trap. It is no surprise that some of the youngsters are more keen to play IPL than to play Ranji trophy,” he elaborated.
Interestingly, one of the former selectors also doesn’t buy the on-going process. When approached by CricketNext, he said that following a feeder line is fine but extraordinary performances in domestic cricket needed to be acknowledged as well.
“I have no problem with Dravid’s recommendation. He has done exceedingly well for the country and his experience helps. But it is for the selectors to decide on the team. During our time also, we would have senior or former players giving us a few suggestions on players to keep an eye on. But the final call was ours,” the former selector remarked.
“While giving players doing well in the ‘A’ team or the U-19 team an opportunity is fine, but the selectors also need to pick domestic talent. A player who has scored 2000-odd runs in a calendar year cannot be ignored because he wasn’t part of the ‘A’ team. Similarly, if a bowler picks say 40 wickets in a season, he must be given the due recognition. The job of the selectors is to not just recognize talent, but also give them the due reward,” he concluded.