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Readers sound off on: The national selectors, and Rajesh Chauhan

The national selectors
The Rajesh Chauhan controversy

January 8, 1998
From: Uday Bhanu <>

It is useless to talk about the thick skinned selection committee. Why don't you, along with other reputed sports journalists in the country, put up a common cause and do something? Like, say, write an open letter to the Sports Minister, Prime Minister or the President of India? May be you can appeal to the great players of yesteryears -- we will all be behind you without any doubt.
Something MUST be done to stop these jokers from ruining the Indian cricket team.
What can be worse than dropping Prasad and Dravid from the team and,on top of it,give lame excuses? Please for the sake of the sports lovers of India, do something. Set the ball in motion - let it snowball.

Prem Panicker: Given that the BCCI is an autonomous body, there is precious little the sports ministry and other government bodies/individuals can do, really. The person who can make a difference is the president of the BCCI, and one step into forcing him to take positive steps is the pressure of public opinion. That is why we provided the address of Raj Singh Dungarpur, so that the readers can directly write to him, informing him of their disillusionment. Meanwhile, sections of the media are exploring other avenues, we will update you as and when something concrete materialises.

From: Srinivas Kasaraneni <>

I can understand your feelings, but don't make the captaincy issue a muddy one by making fun of Azharuddin. I sincerely believe selectors made a wrong decision, but your articles are clearly making fun of Azharuddin which is unforgiveable. Your articles are adding to the already existing confusion in Indian cricket. And its also clear that your articles are based upon your own conclusions, and also you are trying to rub them on everybody. Try to be more responsible while writing this kind of articles.

Prem Panicker: Srinivas, with due respect, I am not sure what the issue is, here. First, as you yourself state, the selectors did make a wrong decision -- we merely report, and analyse, those decisions, and that is all. As to making fun of Azharuddin, sorry, such is definitely not our intention. In the original piece, I had in fact clearly mentioned that the sacking of Azhar after the England tour was wrong. Further, that there is no question of his calibre and achievements as a player. Still further, that by any yardstick he would rank among the greatest players India has produced. The only thing being called into question is whether he deserves, at this point in his career, to be made captain -- we think not. As to the articles being based on my own conclusions -- of course they are, whose conclusions would I base them on otherwise? I definitely do not claim to be infallible, I do not ask that every word I write be taken as gospel, there is no question of foisting my views on every reader. My views are there, written under my name, it is for the reader to agree or disagree, there is obviously no compulsion to do the one or the other. Finally, I would like to point out that I, along with my colleagues in the media, neither create, nor perpetuate, the existing confusion -- rather, we merely report it.

From: Kumar Nagarajan <>

Your article on the Lankan board's action in picking Kumara Dharmasena was interesting and I back your views. But at this point we need to understand the repercussions on the Sri Lankan team for including Dharmasena in the playing 11 for the Zimbabwe tour. Can the ICC take any action against the Sri Lankan board ? Can this action jeopardize the career of the bowler? That would probably explain the Indian board's reaction to the ICC appeal to drop Rajesh Chauhan.

Prem Panicker: The ICC cannot take any action against the Sri Lankan board, or against the individual player. The ICC can, at best, instruct its umpires to keep an eye on the bowler concerned, and call him if and when a particular delivery is deemed to be a "throw" -- which in any event is provided for under the laws governing the game. Besides this, there is no action the global body can take.

From: Jodhawat <>

The more I read of the Indian cricket board, the more disheartened I become. It is indeed sad to see that no matter how talented (or otherwise) the players are, they will always be victimised by the spinelessness of the board. I refer Redif to Geoffrey Boycott's article in a recent article in India Today, wherein he says that the system has to change. Meanwhile, do pass my condolences on to Indian cricket team, may it rest in peace.

From: Raghu Madabushi <>

I seriously doubt all the conspiracy theories doing the rounds, like the one which goes, Simpson is an Aussie, and hence, since Rajesh was in a good form and the Aussies are suspect against offies, he's inventing new ways of playing the off-spinner, by trying to ban him.
The other conspiracy theory is that the established old cricketing nations of England, Australia, and South Africa dont want the rest to corner glory. By hook or crook!
I don't buy both of these angles.
When there is an ICC law which says straightening of the arm just before delivery amounts to throwing, I believe everybody must abide by this.
The is also another law which says that if the match referee complains to the ICC, the issue will be referred to the technical committee, which has Kapil Dev from India apart from others. But the two parties, India, and Australia (because Simpson is an Aussie) can't be in the team investigating, hence the hastily constituted Kapil-Gavaskar team which cleared him doesn't hold. Though I'm not doubting their integrity, as it is a law, it should hold for everybody.
Dont forget that Saqlain was, and still is, a top of the draw offie, and nobody has any problems with his action, even if the batsmen have a LOT of problem with his off-breaks.
Actually, I do think Dharmasena and Chauhan chuck, from what I've seen. They're action IS not smooth, and their arm does bend and then straighten before delivery. Though in the case of Murali, it's different as his hand is sort of deformed permanently due to a fracture, and hence cant be perfectly straight all the time.
What I'm bothered about is, when the matter is being investigated (if at all it is, by the ICC, which is my other point of anger, if it is not being looked into by a technical committee), it is the general norm to not take any action against anybody. Like they say, not guilty until proven so. So, how come the Indian board dropped him, before being asked to do so is perplexing.
Why was this not cleared before selecting him on the previous tours?? What were the officials thinking? If Sunil and Kapil say it's ok, it's ok??
He played a few Tests, and none of the international umpires called him for chucking. Are we to assume, hence, that the ICC constituted panel of umpires, which is actually costing quite a lot of dough, is incompetent or biased??
Why is this issue so shrouded in mystery? Why cant the ICC say clearly what's wrong? And what's all this about the Board "helping" him correct his action?? So are they admitting that it's not wrong now??
If you leave all your feelings of patriotism and liking for the indian team (or dislike for the Aussies, though genuine it may seem at times), and forget for a moment that he's been one of the few bowlers who did something well in the last couple of series, and look at it objectively, it may seem not totally unreasonable/illogical.
Though the Boards' handling of the issue, as any other, has been utmostly unprofessional and pathetic.

Prem Panicker replies: Raghu, first up, Rediff has not, to the best of my knowledge, propagated either of the conspiracy theories mentioned above. We have, however, wondered -- and still do -- why, if this is part of a global clean-up campaign, why the four bowlers in question are alone being named -- surely it is no one's contention that there aren't other bowlers out there who chuck at times? As to the Kapil-Gavaskar part, the sequence was: the ICC questioned Chauhan's action, the BCCI asked Kapil and Gavaskar to examine the evidence, which included the ICC's own tape, the two Indians did so and reported that as per the available evidence, there was no indication that Chauhan chucks. In other words, that the evidence was not conclusive either way. This is the second time the ICC is questioning Chauhan's action, not the first. As to the logic or otherwise, we at least are certainly not suggesting that Chauhan, or any other bowler, should be allowed to get away with chucking -- all that is being argued is, gather enough evidence to prove, conclusively, either his guilt or innocence before you brand him a "chucker" and suggest remedial action. It will be argued that the ICC did do so, vide the tapes Bobby Simpson collected and the technical panel evaluated. However, if that is the case, shouldn't those same tapes be shown to the player concerned, first? And shouldn't someone in authority point out to him, via said tapes, which the problem areas are? As matters stand, the bowler is still totally clueless, and to our mind, this is the saddest part of the entire episode.

From: Ven Hari 򓎙>

Common law dictates that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. In the case of Chauhan, he has been adjudged guilty on two occassions without any real proof. I agree with you that it is up to the umpires to decide whether a bowler chucked the ball or not. Here again, a bowler may perhaps chuck one ball and not the others in the over, and again, it is for the umpire to spot the throw and declare it as a no ball. You have done a great job by pointing out the spineless act of the BCCI. Hopefully, the outcry from the press and fans would act as a wake up call and the BCCI would think before they leap.

From: Satish Narayanan <>

I have been visiting Rediff's cricket section for about a month now. I am really disappointed with the things happening in Iindian cricket. I have some questions on these things.
1. Who elected these selectors????
2. Is it possible that President of India K R Narayan can dismiss the Indian cricket board and elect former Test cricketers to the posts?

Editor's reply: First, the selectors are essentially nominated by the respective zonal associatons, and chosen by the BCCI. As to the second, no, sorry, it is not possible, the President's powers do not extend to the BCCI.

From: Sudip Basu <>

I want to congratulate you for the excellent series of reports regarding the Indian team selection. But I have a question for you: are you writing all these in some Indian newspapers as well?Because very few people in India have access to the internet, which means most of our population will remain unware of the actual facts. I think,everybody should know it.

Prem Panicker: No, I do not write for any print publication these days. However, there is a very alive, active print media in India and almost every newspaper worth the name has been carrying articles detailing the issues we have discussed here. The fan in India, thus, is as clued in as the fan abroad.

From: Nandu Vaid <>

This is in reference to what is going on in Indian cricket. Here is my observation in addition to some suggestions:
Raj Singh was the chairman of the selectors when Mohinder Amarnath was dropped, leading to the famous "bunch of jokers" comment. The same man is now president of the BCCI -- which means we now have a situation where a bunch of jokers works under a former joker.
In my opinion, changing the team often will create more harm to the overall performance of the team compared to the change in leadership. The point is, change of leadership (Sachin to Azar) will have lesser impact on the performance of the team compared to changing of the team personnell every month.
Through one of our Rediff sponsors(Citi Bank, for instance) can we not create a "Fight for Justice in Cricket" Fund? This will enable Indians all over the world to contribute some money to the fund (couple of dollars each, call the local number and we can charge it on our card). Why not use this money to fight the injustice that is done to our nation, the players, cricket and the fans? We can use the newspapers, magazines and TV to voice our opinions. Imagine the impact it will have.

From: Jayan <>

It is great to know that there are people like you who have not lost the ability to react strongly to the deviousness which is central to today's cricket establishment, be it Indian or international.
The gross injustice done to the best batsman in the game by the assortment of machiavellis who call themselves national selectors is merely the tip of the iceberg. And to add to it, comes the Rajesh Chauhan saga.
I find it strange that the official body says the umpires are scared to call someone for chucking. None of us have heard about say a soccer referee hesitating to show a red card to even the greatest of players. Sure, we hear of umpires being partial, that is applicable to almost every game, but this is the first I hear of umpires being "scared" to enforce a rule of the game. The ICC, at the least, needs to come up with more believable reasons.
The role played by the BCCI is yet another example, I guess, of the body's dedication to Indian cricket. This body has, through its actions, drained our players of their energies, and left them in a state of depression, and of low self esteem.
Editor's note: For some reason, the rest of this letter appeared in our box as illegal characters. Therefore, it is being terminated at this point.