Ever since his ‘mis’handling of the Dravid issue Dilip Vengsarkar’s form has been rapidly dipping.   The latest ‘beamer’ he faced in the form of a firm no to his request to continue his columns in newspapers is the last thing he would have expected from the present BCCI dispensation. What’s intriguing is why did Vengsarkar or, for that matter, the BCCI leave the matter so late and thus allowed it to come at a time when the Indian team is involved in a big test match series against Pakistan or shortly going to undertake a tough tour down under?

It’s been reported in the media that a seemingly innocuous issues such as fixing a date and venue for choosing the team has become a matter of dispute whereas the truth lies elsewhere.

The guidelines issued by the BCCI for the five national selectors following media controversy over Vengsarkar continuing with his column while heading the panel was apparently aimed at restraining him after his refusal to heed an oral directive not to do so.   Interestingly the newspaper for which Vengsarkar writes his syndicated column is owned by none other than Sharad Pawar’s brother!

The seven point diktat is categorical : “Selectors shall have no association with agents of players nor shall they participate in events organised by the players’ agents or contribute articles etc. where such agents are involved.   They shall also have no contact with organisations that have interest in the business of cricket in any form whatsoever.” 

The issue came to the public notice because a copy of the guidelines was passed on to the news channels and conveying to them that three selectors have threatened to quit. Sensing the fall out of this controversy they quickly conveyed to the BCCI that they did not leak the guidelines or sent out the threat to quit and thus isolated Dilip Vengsarkar.

The other interesting fact is that the syndication was arranged through an agency that also manages the business affairs of some players currently in the Indian team which includes Mahinder Singh Dhoni. So if the BCCI wants to go according to the books Vengsarkar is in complete breach of the guidelines.
BCCI’s move to rationalise the system comes after receiving complaints from affected players and some state associations about how an unholy nexus exist between the selectors and some sports management companies. To end this sordid affair BCCI has decided to ask these companies to first register with the board so that their activities can be streamlined and monitored.

Also, according to the new guidelines BCCI wants to put a stop to the practice that at least one selector accompanies the team on overseas assignments.   It says “the Board’s constitution clearly defines the selection committee when India team is playing in abroad (sic) viz., captain, vice captain and coach.   The selection meetings will be convened by the Manager of the team.  The provisions contained in the Board constitution shall be strictly observed when Indian team is on tour”.   It also says that only one selector shall be present at an India home match in an official capacity.

In addition, the directive states that the selectors need not sit in the dressing room during the course of an international match, that they shall not associate with media in any shape or form, that selectors will not address the press after a team selection and that selectors will attend more domestic matches, especially the Ranji Trophy, as per a system that’s drawn at the start of each season.

It’s not a surprise that the selectors are miffed at the gag order and deemed it as “unwarranted” and “detrimental”.   Who’s interested in watching the lowly domestic Ranji Trophy matches – definitely not the selectors leave aside the Indian spectators!!

I feel therein lies the answer to the question why a man like Dravid suddenly wanted to resign when everything was going right for him. One of the members of Team India told a website on condition of anonymity that Dravid was “feeling suffocated”, not because of the weight of captaincy affecting his batting, but because “certain people from outside tended to dictate to him as to what he should do and what he shouldn’t” as a captain.”   And it’s not impossible to cipher in who the outsider is!

As one of the columnists writes “t he chairman of the selection committee, Dilip Vengsarkar, reacts like a TV anchor and not like someone who should know and be more responsible in what he says. Almost every second day we have Vengsarkar in an ‘exclusive’ interview berating his team.”  

We don’t know as yet if the BCCI has learnt its lessons or not but it has at least come out with its new guidelines which if they choose to implement in letter and spirit will give a free hand to future captains in arriving at decisions which they feel is the right one.

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