The Board of Control for Cricket in India's move to send selectors on tour may have ended up having mixed results. On the one hand, selectors are able to see for themselves which players have worked hard and which have not. On the other, selectors may have found it hard to agree with some new thoughts coming into Indian cricket.
"I have been able to watch for myself which players work hard and which ones haven't shown the right attitude. If we were to stay home and watch the cricket on television, we will have little idea of what happens in the dressing room," a selector told Outlook. "I think it is a very good idea and will work well for the team."
Clearly, selectors will now have an understanding of what the coach or the captain has to say at the meeting of the selection committee, especially when it comes to players who appear to place their interests above those of the team's needs. For many years, they have had to base their own judgment of some players on the coach/captain's inputs and perhaps on the tour managers' reports.
The genesis of the idea of having a selector on tour lies in the controversies that surfaced in Zimbabwe with coach Greg Chappell's response to captain Sourav Ganguly, about his need to focus on resurrecting his batting career, even if it meant that he had to think of giving up captaincy, which came out in a question asked of Ganguly at a press conference
After it became evident that it was one man's word against that of another, the BCCI thought it wise to have chairman of selectors Kiran More travelling with the side during the home series against Sri Lanka and South Africa. More was actively involved even at the nets and the Pakistan tour has seen the other four selectors come in so far, leaving the chairman to be at hand for the last three one-day internationals.
Chappell will be pleased that the selectors have been able to watch and understand not only the players but also his own methods. For long, when he spoke of a player being a bad influence on the dressing room, it was assumed that some player was being nasty or disruptive in the pavilion or the dressing room. Now, as one selector told me, they can see that if a player is not delivering his bit for the team, he can cause the others to hold back too.
It is not as if the throw of the dice is always rolling in Chappell's favour. There is a flip side too. "I have a feeling that some of them start thinking about the risk of injury because of all talk of stress fractures of the back or of the shin," a selector said, suggesting that biomechanist Ian Fraser's influence on the team could be strong – and perhaps detrimental.
"My feeling is that Indian players are more supple than the Australians. Tell me how many Indian bowlers have broken down with back or shin problems? It is possible that some of our fast medium bowlers have become conscious of this and slowed down their pace. I intend to talk to the Board president about this," he said.
The selector is uncomfortable that the quicker bowlers do not seem prepared to bend their backs because their minds have been clogged with some theories on stress fractures. Now, Chappell and Fraser may not be amused by such suggestions but the selector believes that there is a clash between the cricketing cultures in India and Australia.
So, in some ways, Chappell may have a little task of having to convince more and more people about the utility of his ways and the staff that he employs in his bid to make Team India a better, more competitive unit. It will be interesting to see how such selector/s can either add to Chappell's problems or make his life a lot easier.
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