Mumbai: Has the conflict of interest question in Indian cricket got its answer? Mohinder Amarnath, a selector himself till a few months ago, has lifted the lid and a pungent rotten egg smell blowing from the pot is making it difficult to breathe.
Conflict So what has Amarnath said? “All five selectors wanted Mahendra Singh Dhoni to be sacked after India was whitewashed in England and Australia, but BCCI president (N Srinivasan) intervened to allow Dhoni to continue as captain. Selectors picked Virat Kohli as captain for the tri-series that followed.
• Former selector Mohinder Amarnath (below) has said that BCCI president and Chennai Super Kings owner N Srinivasan (right) blocked the move to replace MS Dhoni
Dhoni was dropped from the 17-man squad. The captain was selected by somebody else. Why do you need a selection committee there if one person needs to be at the helm of affairs?
We should not be there. Who knows the constitution of BCCI? Is the current selection committee aware of it? I was not aware of the constitution of BCCI,” Amarnath said during a TV interview. None of Amarnath’s colleagues, including chief selector K Srikkanth, have denied what Amarnath has said.
In fact, Srikkanth, who till a few days ago had been defending Dhoni and the team, has now gone on record demanding a change in the leadership. Srikkanth told a TV channel: “I admit Sehwag's captaincy issue was seriously discussed ‘(after the whitewash in Australia).
We had a lengthy discussion about whether we should replace the captain or not. But what decision was taken, I cannot comment on it now.” Board of Control for Cricket in India has reacted expectedly by denying it outright, just as they have been doing in the recent years with regards to bad performances by the team.
IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said, “I will not go into what he (Amarnath) has said. I don’t think this has ever happened. I don’t think it is appropriate to give statements like this. Whatever one has to say, one can say while participating in the selection meeting.
Making comments about selection issues is not appropriate as it creates some kind of perception in the minds of players and fans. Selectors are independent. They are not under any pressure.” Per say there is nothing wrong with what Srinivasan might have done.
Even if it’s not part of the constitution but all teams, not only national but also state, once selected are sent for a final approval to the president in the Indian cricket setup.
However, few questions arise. First, how can Srinivasan, who is also the owner of Indian Premier League franchise Chennai Super Kings — the team that Dhoni leads, have any say in the selection? Logic suggests that having the captain of India as captain of your IPL team, makes it so much easy to brand and market.
It’s important to understand why Dhoni is so central to Srinivasan and CSK in particular. Look at the composition of CSK’s squad. Barring Dhoni, there really are no A-listers in it.
Yes, there are the likes of Suresh Raina, Michael Hussey and Ravindra Jadeja in the current squad but it’s not like Mumbai Indians, where even if you take out Sachin Tendulkar, you are still left with Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga and Kieron Pollard who will bring in the crowds.
His importance to the team is also evident from the fact that Srinivasan has been opposing an auction where all the players come into the pool. And BCCI’s working committee, which is headed by Srinivasan, has been rejecting it for the fear of losing the face of his IPL team.
Add to this the fixing and auction-rigging accusations that Srinivasan’s CSK face from other team owners. These allegations have obviously been rubbished by league owners, the Srinivasan-led BCCI.
In a famous scene from the Bollywood pot-boiler Deewar, bad man Amitabh Bachchan asks his brother, Shashi Kapoor, who is also a cop, as to who has come to meet him, a cop or a brother.
Kapoor replies that when a brother asks, a brother will answer and when a criminal will ask, a cop will answer. It looked dramatic and idealistic but the truth was that the brother and the cop were the same person.
Here too, Srinivasan might claim that both his roles are different and he exercises his duties depending on the situation but the fact is that it’s difficult to separate vodka from tomato juice in Bloody Mary.
What has further brought Srinivasan’s role under the scanner is his hand-picking of the current group of selectors led by Sandeep Patil. So who appointed them? The BCCI president or the Chennai Super Kings owner? The likes of Amarnath have raised other points too.
You can be a selector one day and yet walk into a TV studio to spill the beans when team is under the weather on another day. In Amarnath’s case, he now says that he wanted to resign at that point. But the bottom line is that he never did and was even in contention of becoming the chief selector.
So would he have accepted Srinivasan’s offer and toed the line for Rs. 70 lakhs per year, which is what is paid to the chief selector these days? Amarnath and Co. have also put the current lot of selectors under immense pressure.
Howsoever independent, unbiased, independent and forthright they may be, they will always be viewed from the prism, irrespective of whether right or wrong, that Amarnath has offered.
Amarnath once called the selectors abunch of jokers. Perhaps only the English team and their supporters will find the whole act amusing.
► I admit Sehwag's captaincy issue was seriously discussed. We had a lengthy discussion about whether we should replace the captain or not
- Kris Srikkanth, Former Chief Selector