Old habits die hard. The controversy surrounding Rahul Dravid’s ‘dropping’ from the ODI team is yet another proof that BCCI is anything but a modern day professionally run sports body.   When they know cricket is a religion and its players are considered gods in the country their inability to handle selection issues not just looks silly but baffling.  Just ask yourself how many times, in the last decade or two, they confirmed Mohinder Amarnath’s famous comment that t he “national selectors are a bunch of jokers”! 

Incidentally, it’s interesting to read what Bob Simpson, the former Australian captain, wrote: “Leaks have not been uncommon in recent times about selection matters and grave suspicion has been cast at the members of the selection panel.”   It looks as if he wrote this after the recent Dravid controversy but in fact he did so when Steve Waugh was dropped from the Australian ODI squad in 2002.   So BCCI can take solace from the fact that even Cricket Australia is not without blame in selection matters.

Similarly, during the recently ended Australian series when Saurav Ganguly was dropped before the Hyderabad ODI there were conflicting reports. While BCCI Secretary Niranjan Shah said that Ganguly was dropped from the team, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni explained that he was rested because of his hamstring injury. “Sourav has a hamstring injury. He was eager to play, but we were not willing to risk a batsman getting injured during the game. Therefore we decided to rest him for this game as well.”

Indian selectors always look confused and scurry for cover when they were asked to handle anything to do with a senior player.   It gets even bigger if it’s a matter involving ‘dropping’ or ‘resting’ of that player.  Why can’t they keep it simple and straight forward by first taking the particular player into confidence rather than planting or leaking stories in the press and thus embarrass the individual concerned? Who are they afraid of?

Although in his hey days Vengsarkar, the present chairman of the selection committee, was famous for his elegant straight batting in his new role, it seems, a hidden hand is forcing him to heave ugly cross batted shots which is not a sight to behold!
In the absence of clarity of thought on the part of the selection committee headed by Vengsarkar what Bob Simpson’s wrote in 2002 sounds prophetic: ” Conjecture rules the headlines about who will or will not figure in the one-day squad”.

The result is there for any one to see.  According to a news channel after Niranjan Shah announced the team for the first two ODIs against Pakistan Vengsarkar said “Good batsmen (like Dravid) need rest” and added the present ODI team without Dravid “is a winning team”!!   According to one of the selectors, the suggestion was to drop Sourav Ganguly but Vengsarkar was clear if any of the seniors had to go it was Dravid. The reason he gave was that “Dravid is a one-dimensional player and does not add value to the one-day team”.
Apparently Dravid had annoyed Vengsarkar when he quit captaincy without keeping him in the loop.   There were reports that during the selection meeting in Ahmedabad, he replied when one of his colleagues suggested that Dravid be informed about the decision by saying: “Did he inform us while resigning?” Is this kind of tit for tat expected from a man like ‘Colonel’ Vengsarkar?
If only the selection committee consists of men who don’t have any cricketing background like, for example, Rajiv Shukla or Niranjan Shah, they could have been blamed for their fallacies but what about former cricketers who are on the selection panel?   If they are not sensible enough to handle a player like Rahul Dravid who is not so long ago hailed as the great “wall” and “the backbone” imagine the fate of Indian cricket.
Anyway, Dravid should realise that he shares the illustrious company of former captains like Venkatraghavan, Ajit Wadekar, Kris Srikkanth and Saurav Ganguly who were similarly dropped like hot potatoes.

Finally, Dravid should be happy to read what Simpson said : ” While a new broom is always an attraction, you must make sure that the old one can’t still do the job better.”  Does Vengsarkar have a contrary view?

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