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Readers sound off on:

Sachin and Azhar
Indian team for Dhaka
Sachin's response to ouster
A time to experiment

January 6, 1998

Anil Wadhwani <>

Instead of just complaining about the selectors lack of substance, this is a great move to come up with good possible solutions. Where do we go from here?
Suggestion: Let us find a sponsor for a prize winning formula -- say Rs. 100,000 in any currency.
Let there be a 3-member committee of judges: Rediff may screen the non-qualifiers. The committee can comprise of one of the selectors, one of the former greats (Gavaskar/Shastri/Kapil/Gaekwad), and one of today's cricketers (Sachin/Azhar/Jadeja)

Mukund Ramadoss <>

Hats off to Sachin for refusing to take any more nonsense. Sachin is a glorious cricketer who has an excellent cricketing brain. By making him captain and then interfering with captaincy affairs, we have not given him complete control and flexibility.
The selection committee's job ends with selecting the captain and the team. By poking their noses into strategy, batting order and final team selection, they definitely crossed their limits. And the loss is that of India, and Indian cricket.
Anyhow, now the silver lining is that Sachin can concentrate on his batting, and I hope runs would flow by the ton from his blade.
Let us look forward. What does India need to bounce back from its problems? We need an explosive batsman to put the opposition under pressure right from the start, and no one is better than Sachin in this respect. Earlier, India's batting used to be fragile when Sachin gets out. Now we have solid players like Dravid and Ganguly. I feel we should let Sachin open the batting and take advantage of the field restrictions. An explosive start would certainly give an edge, which people like Dravid and others can consolidate on.
We need a good captain who should be confident about his abilities and of the backing of the selection committee. The captain must be given the team that he wants, and a long rope. He should be made accountable if he does not deliver by the allotted time.
One day cricket is all about making quick decisions and tactics. Going back to Azhar is a backward step. Azhar has proved during his tenure that he is far from being a strategist. Further, his popularity and relationship with other players is a big question mark. His presence is going to cause problems. Jadeja is inexperienced in leading sides and also not a good bet for inclusion in Test sides.
I feel that Sanjay Manjrekar has an astute cricketing brain, and therefore can lead the side. Besides, Manjrekar has a solid technique, and is good enough to walk into most international sides (except, strangely, India's own team). The way he lead Bombay in the recent Ranji finals came in for lot of praise.
We need a good allrounder -- and there our search continues. I feel people like Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly and Jadeja should be asked to do lots of bowling in the nets so that they can be utilized in a useful way. We do not have enough quality allrounders. Robin singh can be classified neither in the bowling nor in the batting category. Hopefully, Kanitkar will mature into a quality allrounder.
We need two good new ball bowlers. Srinath and Prasad are our best bowlers. They should have Harvinder and Mohanty as backups. Whenever we play in India, people like Ganesh, Kuruvilla, Johnson should be allowed to be with the team, their presence in the nets will be useful.
Practice sessions should not be restricted to nets and physical conditioning. Players should practice match situations for batting, bowling and fielding. Running between the wickets and throwing the ball from the outfield should be mastered.
As far as spinners are concerned, we have Chauhan, Sairaj and Nilesh Kulkarni currently. It is heartening to note that L Sivaramakrishnan has made a comeback into the TN Ranji team. People like LS, Anil kumble, Sunil Joshi, Venkatapathy Raju, who performed in the past should be given lots of chances to improve and gain in confidence.
My team would be: Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Sanjay Manjrekar, Dravid, Laxman, Jadeja, Mongia, Sairaj Bahutule, Srinath, Chauhan, Prasad, Mohanty, Harvinder, Kambli.
Standbyes: Nilesh Kulkarni, Kuruvilla, Ganesh, Kumble, Kanitkar, Robin Singh.

Ganesh Sivaraman <Sivaraman@TTACS.TTU.EDU>

Here's my suggestion for the Indian one day team (squad of 14) for 1998:
Saurav Ganguly: aggressive, technically correct, great temperament, also bowls a straight line, difficult to get away especially on slower pitches, easily contributes 5-7 overs per game, not too bad a fielder.
Hrishikesh Kanitkar: Decent bat, can be aggressive and, on a good day, capable of taking advantage of the first 15 overs; can bowl 5-7 decent overs, brilliant fielder.
Rahul Dravid: Consistent, capable of being aggressive when required, too good to be dropped, can be told by the captain and manager that when he is anchoring, he should rotate the strike a bit more in his initial stages in the middle; very good close in fielder, highly competent in the deep.
Sachin Tendulkar: A destroyer of bowling when in the mood, equally capable of milking the singles and twos, should control the middle phase of the innings; capable of bowling a few tidy overs, very agile fielder, accurate throwing arm.
Ajay Jadeja: Excellent middle order batsman, very innovative and dangerous in the slog overs at the end, very good runner especially when partnering players like Tendulkar and Robin Singh, should not be asked to open the innings; can roll his arm over for a few steady overs and should be asked to do so regularly; brilliant fielder in any position, enjoys being in the field, and transmits his enthusiasm to others.
Robin Singh: Hard hitting lower order batsman, great runner between wickets, wonderful temperament under pressure; good bowler, can easily bowl 5+ overs of steady seam up stuff on any wicket, very difficult to get away on the slower tracks; outstanding fielder.
Vinod Kambli: Naturally aggressive batsman, capable of being devastating towards the latter stages of an innings, and can also be moved up the order to take advantage of a good start; excellent fielder in the deep with a good arm.
Sameer Dighe (or any other keeper who fits the bill): To be used in the Moin Khan-Kaluwitharana mould, as the buffer between the last recognised batsman and the tail, capable of huge hits and also of brisk strike rotation.
Rajesh Chauhan: Capable of playing strokes, should be told to contribute more with the bat; good bowler, now on a confidence high (Ed's note: This letter was written before the ICC action against Chauhan), takes wickets as well as bowling a restrictive line in the middle overs; strong arm, good catcher in the slips and off his own bowling.
Javagal Srinath: Capable of hitting a few lusty blows, and easily the best bowler in India today. I would pick him as captain since he is one of the permanent member of the team, also one of the most experienced. Okay fielder, though his throwing after the shoulder injury has been a bit iffy, batsmen tend to play the ball to him and run a second on the throw.
Debashish Mohanty: Needs to work on his batting, excellent prospect with the ball, very aggressive and always takes wickets.
Besides the above, I would have two bowling reserves in Sairaj Bahutule and Venkatesh Prasad, and a batting reserve in V V S Laxman.

Above all, we need accountability -- any player, no matter what his reputation, who fails to display the right spirit and attitude should be dumped at once.

K Mohan <>

It is very rare to find someone who thinks clearly when it comes to writing about Indian cricket. Shalab Kumar seems to echo my views. More often, you find half-baked comments on the various discussion groups, that actually put you off. Here is to more Shalab Kumars!

Binu Mukherjee <>

I have enjoyed the article "A Time to Experiment", and write mainly in support of the ideas expressed. Ever since Azharuddin's poor tour in England and his changed stance at the wicket, his game has been a chancy one and it is perhaps time to move on. I would like to add that it is essential to give the team time to settle in, and for partnerships to develop in batting. With this in view, I wonder if we could not try Laxman as an opener for some sustained period and see if he and Ganguli can develop into a good pair? Further, this would make room for both Kambli and Dravid in the middle order. I have long felt that Kambli, with his particular facility to play lofted shots, is a good bet in both the Test and one-day teams. His record in the matches that he has played speaks for itself! I look forward to reading other comments.

Srinivas Murthy <>

I didnt understand why the author of the article "A time to experiment" preferred Mohanty over Venkatesh Prasad, who is more experienced, has lots of wickets in his kitty and has more pace. Unless I see a regional bias here, which has already taken a toll of Prasad.

Partha Saranathan <>

I live in the U.S. I have lived here for more than 9 years. Am basically from Madras and used to be cricket fanatic while I was in India. I was not following cricket for almost 8 years, before I watched a few 1996 World Cup matches. Now I am making an effort to follow all one day games very closely thanks to the internet.
I have been recently reading your columns, and am impressed with the style and contents. I can see that the selectors get your blood pressure up. We need someone like you capable of calling a spade a spade. From what I understand the selectors, who Mohinder Amarnath once labelled a bunch of jokers, are messing up India's chances of winning a tournament. It is ridiculous when selectors start dictating the batting order or the team's playing eleven. Looks like the captain has no control over the team's composition.
Could you please write in your column about the need to send a "pinch hitter" like Srinath or somebody else who is naturally aggressive, especially when the score is 115 for no loss or for one wicket in 28-odd overs? We don't get any points for losing only five wickets, points are given only for winning games, and a pinch hitter who faces six balls and smacks three or four of them to the boundary can be very useful if used at the right time. And even if the pinch hitter loses his wicket first ball, no harm done -- this is one of the situations where there is everything to gain and nothing at all to lose.

Shrikant Dharap <>

Great article, Prem, on the national selectors. But how dare you try to run down the Selection Committee which is god's gift to India?! Don't you know that in the game of cricket only one master batsman has to score runs time and again and more importantly, that we don't need bowlers to win matches? Don't you know that the selectors are so busy that they can not remember what they said a minute back? And of course you don't know that Shivlal Yadav and Bannerji are by virtue of their towering accomplishments the right persons to judge ordinary batsmen and even more ordinary captains like Sachin Tendulkar.
Frankly, all this is disgusting. In the hall of cricketing fame, the likes of Yadav and Bannerji don't qualify even to be doormen -- it is a pity that such as they are in charge of Indian cricket. Somehow, someday, I hope the selectors pay for what they have done to the game we all love.

Madhavan Iyengar <>

I dont know what these guys are up to. They are not even a bunch of jokers, merely a bunch of idiots who are apparently way below the Plimsoll Line of rationality when making decisions. It is disheartening that Chauhan is not getting the full backing of the BCCI -- that came as a shock to me, especially now that he is developing into a very good bowler. It is the same bunch that dropped players like Kambli and Dravid on the argument that they were not regular members of the playing eleven -- how then is it that Laxman figures in the squad? Or Harvinder Singh? Or Kanitkar? This particular argument of the wise men is brilliant, really -- any fool would know that when you pick a squad of 14, three of them do not figure in the final eleven. Those three are reserves, meant to step in if one or more of the playing eleven suffer injury or loss of form. Dropping someone because he didn't make the playing eleven therefore is a total blunder. When the selectors justified the selection of Mohanty and Harvinder saying that they wanted to groom the side for the 1999 World Cup and that they wanted the boys to gain experience by bowling alongside Srinath, it is somewhat convincing. However, I thought for the Dhaka tournament, Srinath would be rested and Prasad brought in to lead the attack, in order to keep Srinath fit and fresh for the series against Australia. Isn't it the selectors' duty to make sure that Srinath does not burn out -- as the South African selectors do in the case of Allan Donald? But these guys never learn, do they?

Mohit Bhargava <>

Next, the selectors will show players how to hold the bat and play the forward defensive stroke, or how to bowl the inswinger.
Why do we need a captain anyway, when we have this wonderful bunch of wise, capable men to decide on every single thing?

Sheetal <>

I am very impressed with this site, totally hooked on to it. Here, in the Philippines, this is my main source of cricket info.
Your article about the selectors was very interesting. I totally agree with your comments, we have to find a way to sack these know it alls.
I just hope they get some sense into their seemengly senseless heads, and make the right decisions for the upcoming Australian tour. I wonder if there is any way to have people vote on whether these jokers deserve to continue in office. Anyway, more power to you.

Vaidyanathan <>

I have been watching Indian cricket since I was 12. I sincerely feel all these talks of Politics, Regionalism and such are mere crap.
Let us admit that the standards available for selectors as on date is mediocore. Modern cricket requires optimum physical fitness and analytical training. Most of the Indian cricketters have intuitive skills, which they never want to develop scientifically. Their physical powers are at a low ebb. And as long as such a situation prevails, it does not make any difference whether Azhar is the captain, or Sachin, or Mongia, or your columnist Prem Panicker -- clearly, the problems with Indian cricket lie elsewhere than in the captaincy.

Satish Sundaresan <>

I cant belive this!!! I have seen quite a few selectors who were true Jokers, but this bunch seems to be the worst of the lot, truly pathetic.
For a change, why don't you media people publish a collective article that could dethrone this bunch?
The articles on this site are good and do invoke a sense of patriotism towards Indian cricket. But at the same time, I doubt whether the people who should be actually reading what you write get to read them -- I mean those idiotic selectors.

Madhup Rathi <>

I am so disappointed and disgusted, that I do not want to write about our Board. No words can express their ineptitude. Mohinder was wrong, these are not jokers but downright idiots -- and I don't mean the selectors alone, but the whole of the BCCI.
Can you start a kind of electronic signature campaign, demanding a change in our system, and send it to everybody starting from the President of India? Cricket is a national sport, and is very much a social issue worthy of our government's concern.
Alternately, can we sue the board for not acting in the national interest?

Prashant Srivastava <>

Time and again, you are reminded of Mohinder Amarnath's words -- the selectors are a bunch of jokers. How very, appropriate these words are today!

Akshay <>

I read your article about Chauhan being sent to learn how to bowl -- excellent article. BCCI cannot speak for its own, it does not have the guts to stand up for their own players. We all saw what Sri Lanka did in a similar situation and if it had been Pakistan, there would have been a greater uproar. We Indians, however, are faint-hearted, we have no pride in ourselves and our country, and where there is no pride, how can there be the determination to stand up for ourselves?

Ven Hari <>

Many people have written about Azhar being India's most successful captain. If Sachin or anyone else had players like Kapil, Amarnath, Binny, Prabhakar and Vengsarkar to name just a few, they too would have been successful. I admired Azhar as a player till recently. But I feel now that he lately, he has never come through for the team when it mattered. In fact, I would go to the extent of saying that he threw away his wickets at Sharjah and against Sri Lanka in the home series so that Sachin would be sacked. I think India would have won against SL if both Sidhu and Azhar had been dropped, and their places taken by Dravid and possibly Kambli or some other committed player. I am sorry to see that both Dravid and Kambli have now been dropped from the Dhaka games. I suspect there is also some truth to the rumours that Prasad and Dravid have been dropped because of the quota system -- both are from Karnataka.

Vikram Dendi <>

The fools in the boat (read Board) are trying to sink it as best as they can. I hope it does go under, but without taking Indian cricket with it.
Kick Tendulkar out of the saddle, give it back to Azharuddin whom you have just reprimanded for not showing interest in the team's cause! More, give Azhar full freedom to pick and choose the batting lineup. And what a lineup! On what basis were the selections made? Dravid out.. Prasad out.. I wonder why Sachin is still in the side -- the selectors could have dropped him as well, for being out of form! Lets say Azhar loses, then what? I read media articles even now showing him in the worst light possible, so what happens if the team loses? Well, kick Azhar out of the saddle, and out of the team, write an obituary to his career.. and then give the saddle back to Sachin maybe?
Shock treatment? To the fans and the team? The idea being to make them so shell shocked that they wont come and attack every board member they see (which I Personally want to, if I get a chance)?
I wish Azhar had the sense to say no to the captaincy. He should have said he wanted to enjoy the game and not get into trouble. I wish he had done that.
And after all this, do you think I will still watch the coming matches? You bet I will. Hoping there comes a better day!

Uchani Deivachilai <>

There is no use getting frustrated with this circus -- these jokers are beyond all reason.
We need to let someone like the Unabomber loose on the board, and on the selectors.
We also need India to lose all its games from here on, including those against teams like Bangladesh. Nobody supports India with more enthusiasm than me, but I have had enough. Could you please provide us with Sachin's address, too? I'd like to request him to be at least thrice as irresponsible as Azhar was under Sachin's captaincy, and make every attempt to ensure India is humiliated as much as possible, assuming further humiliation is possible.
I am sorry that the tone of this letter is so strong, but frankly, these characters do not deserve to be addressed with respect.

Shreenivas Kand <>

What the hell are the selectors doing? Even a common man understands that their actions are wrong. The media helps out with analysis, which they obviously don't read, or if they do, they don't pay any heed to them. Their egos are the problem.
I feel sorry for the Indian cricketers, for the media, for the fans of cricket, that so very many of them have to bear the shame and humiliation inflicted by a handful of men.
The board can be arrogant with their own players, but when it comes to the ICC, they cringe. Don't they have any sense of self-respect? It is people such as these that caused our country to stay in slavery for nearly two centuries.

Shrikant Ramachandran <>

You have been writing about these idiotic selectors for quite some time now and I really appreciate that, but what is required now is a mass campaign against these idiots. Its time you take the responsibility to either conduct a public poll or sue them for their actions, representing the cricket loving people of India. Please do it for the nation's sake, and for the future of Indian cricket. Please don't shy away from your responsibility. If you could do something, the cricket fans of India will always be indebted to you...

Ramachandra P Tekumalla <>

I wanted to bring to your notice a factual error in your report titled "Chauhan Chucks". Mr Prem Panicker writes as follows: "Now, the ICC has barred Chauhan again. The official letter says that the technical committee of the global body has unanimously decided (does this mean Kapil Dev is a party to the decision, and has thus reversed his earlier stand?) that the bowler's right hand gets straightened just before delivery, thus constituting a "throw"."
Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar, as per an article in the Times of India, were not part of the ICC panel that decided on Chauhan's action.

Prem Panicker replies: The report does not say, as fact, that Kapil was part of the committee. Rather, it asks the question. The background is, it is a known fact that Kapil is India's representative on the ICC throwing committee. It was the throwing committee that decided on the action at Chauhan. At the time of writing the report, it was not known whether Kapil had been involved in the decision. Therefore, a question was asked, and that is all. If there was any ambiguity in the wording, my apologies.

Shrikant Dharap <>

I just read Sachin Tendulkar's response to being axed from the captaincy. A superb reply, suiting his batting prowess and his stature. Sachin, please don't waste any more breath on idiots like this.

Milan <>

As a fan of Indian cricket, I am shocked at the unprofessional way the BCCI and the selection committee have gone about the task of sacking Sachin. I have stayed in Australia for the past couple of years and can only appreciate the difference between the two set-ups. Though the Aussie way is not a fool-proof way of team selection and also, team selection is only a step towards winning matches, the most important thing in local cricketing matters in Australia is transparency. The people know who are the certain selections and they know who are the next best. Conversely, if a player is out of form, the people know that person is under scrutiny and if he fails again for a couple of times, he is going to be dropped. Importantly, the player is also told about his situation, he knows how many more chances he has. For example, Mark Waugh knew he was facing the axe unless he scored against New Zealand. Thirdly, and most importantly, the way things are handled when a player needs to be dropped needs mention. Firstly, the selectors inform the player directly unlike here where Sachin knew about it from the news. Here also, sacking is strongly avoided, the players are given a chance to resign first as was the case with David Boon. I was shocked that the selectors were at pains to prove a point to the media that Sachin had been sacked and the decision was theirs. To Sachin's credit, he has taken the decision in good spriit, but it is not good for team harmony anyway. All in all, we are not giving our talented team a chance to do its best. And in this situation, even any wins in the future will be more through luck than by plan.

Renate Bhaskaran <>

It is with much frustration that I read about these moronic people called "selectors". Maybe it is time to fire these idiots who seem to me to be more and more corrupt, unscrupulous, greedy. The public should strike, they should not attend any more cricket matches as long as these people are in charge, the players should strike as well, and refuse to play.
Indian cricket fans deserve better, we have a team with enormous potential to win consistently and make us proud, but these malevolent selectors have brought our standards down to an all time low -- shame on them!

Virender Gupta <>

Who says there is no God? Who says we can't see him? Come with me to the Indian team selection room and I will show you God, with five faces. Let me explain. God is someone who can do anything. So can the selectors. God is someone whose decisions are inexplicable to ordinary mortals. So, too, the decisions of the selectors.
As to bowing down to the ICC in the case of Chauhan, there is more to it than that. We had a clear choice -- self respect, or the post of the ICC president. We made our choice -- for the post, at the expense of our self respect. There really is nothing more to say.

Ranjita Padmanabhan <>

Prem, the solution to India's cricket problems is simple: Pack the three D's responsible for Indian cricket's debacle over the last year (Dalmia, Dungarpur & Desai) and throw them into the Arabian Sea. Each day, they make Amarnath's statement that the selectors are jokers gospel truth -- to the detriement of Indian cricket. And the pain of the Indian fan increases, almost beyond bearing.
Bob Simpson is no one to recommend anything about a bowler's action. He was a match referee, and should have remained as one. When the umpires did not call any one of them, why should Simpson step in? It is outside his jurisdiction anyway.
Ignoring Rahul Dravid is a bit much. Even a novice would have selected him. The whole affair stinks.

A brief addition from Prem Panicker: While on Bobby Simpson, his functioning as match referee provides one further point of interest. While he was quick to call for videos of the action of bowlers who he felt were not quite there with their actions -- totally ignoring the fact that it was none of his business anyway -- he never did bother to follow up on the audible obscenity uttered by Sri Lankan medium pacer Pramodaya Wickremasinghe. The television image was very clear, the sound audible over the stump cam. That evening, Simpson said he had taken note of the incident -- a clear contravention of ICC's own code of conduct, which the match referee is supposed to enforce. End of story -- neither was the errant bowler pulled up, nor did Simpson have anything more to say on the incident. Maybe he was too busy checking out bowlers' actions?

Anand T Krishnan <>

The sacking of Sachin Tendulkar was expected, as the BCCI and the selectors have been laying the groundwork the past few months. Sachin, more than anyone else, should not be surprised.
I don't see the need for the selection committee to discuss at length on the process (there being none)!. The press should boycott these conferences, which are more vehicles for the selectors' ego trips. The current bunch of jokers get a sadistic pleasure in trumpeting their "power". The press should also stop reporting the leaks by the selectors.
I don't buy the argument that Sachin failed because he didn't get the players he wanted. Remember Rathore, who went to SA on Sachin's backing? How many times did Kambli and Kanitkar get to play, despite the captain's backing?. It is the captain's job to make do with what he has. It doesn't help that Gavaskar plugs for him so blatantly on TV. I don't hear the other commentators plugging for their favourite players.
If the ex-Test cricketers are not happy with the Board, why don't they try to get elected? I am sure if say Pataudi expresses an interest openly, the Board wouldn't have the guts to keep him out.
I think that Azza is better in the short run till the World Cup. He has nothing to lose and should do what he wants boldly. This would help break the shackles imposed by the Board on him and future captains.

Ravi Krishnan <>

I read Prem Panicker's recent articles, and the readers' response to the same. Thanks a bunch for Raj Singh's address. But i feel that Rediff, indeed the whole Indian media, and former stars preferably under the leadership of Mohinder Amarnath, should begin a concerted campaign aimed at sacking this ruthless bunch of selectors. We should all believe that this can be done. Let us make a begining. Hopefully you can formulate a way to do this. But please do not give up by saying that press has its limitations. Around the world we have seen the overthrow of governments. To overthrow a bunch of cricket selectors cannot be too difficult.

Prem Panicker replies: Our mailbox has been bulging at the seams, with outraged readers demanding that something be done to cure this malaise.
We agree that the time has come to stop whining, and try to do something concrete to remedy the ills affecting Indian cricket.
As we see it, the first step is awareness. And it is to this end that we have begun featuring a series of articles on the misdeeds of the selectors, and the incompetence of the board.
Step two is public pressure. Neither the board, nor the selectors, care too much for a bunch of reporters, or even for a Gavaskar, a Shastri, a Kapil Dev saying their piece on television. But an avalanche of mail at their doorstep is something even they will not be able to ignore. And it is for this reason that we provided Raj Singh Dungarpur's address -- we hope the readers will do their bit by writing in, detailing the misdeeds of the selectors and the mistakes of the board.
Meanwhile, in the weeks to come, we hope to step up our own campaign, through every means possible.

On a related issue -- we have been attempting to carry reader's mails at the earliest. However, the sheer volume makes it impossible for us to carry each day's mails the very next day. Bear with us, therefore -- all mails will be carried in full, and replies provided where needed.

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