The Indian cricket board (BCCI) is trying to zero in on five wise men — one from each zone — as their first paid national selectors. As the Board is in discussion with a lot of former Test cricketers and trying hard not to leak any information to media, as they did while appointing Gary Kirsten, some of the Board's eligibility criteria have to be questioned.
While laying down the conditions for a national selector, the Board working committee decided that office-bearers of state cricket associations would be ineligible for the jobs of selectors. However, the board seems to be fine with a national selector following the prevalent practice and heading his respective state association's selection panel.
"Each selector will be heading their respective zonal selection committee," BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah told the Hindustan Times on Friday.
The BCCI also considered the fact that many state associations — like the Mumbai Cricket Association — have a clause in their constitution that says that the moment someone from their jurisdiction is appointed as a national selector, he automatically takes over as the chairman of the state selection committee.
It may be noted that besides making selectors accountable, one of the prime reasons for introducing paid selectors was to stop selectors' lobbying for players from their own zone.
But with the BCCI allowing national selectors to head their respective state associations, the door is open for selectors to lobby players from their states.
"At the end of the day, it all depends on the person's integrity," Shah said, when asked about this. "If a person is not committed enough to his job, what can we do?"
Going by the same logic, if the BCCI doesn't have a problem with a person sharing the dual responsibility of a national and state selector, why not allow someone to share the dual responsibility of a national selector and state association administrator?
Four of the five current selectors will be ineligible since they hold posts in their respective state associations. Besides, many former international cricketers who are now office-bearers with their state associations questioned the "integrity" factor. "If integrity is the sole factor, why not trust an administrator while appointing him as a selector?" one of the selectors-cum-office-bearers, not willing to be named, said. "Some of us have turned into administrators since we wanted to give back something to the game that has given us so much."
It was learnt that the Board's reluctance to allow national selectors to be office-bearers for their state associations was because the authority of a national selector's post ends up giving the person so much authority that they end up running the state association as a one-man show.
While that is debatable, the board must make guidelines clearer to avoid any dissent among its affiliates.
New selectors next week
Meanwhile, it was learnt that the new selection panel will be finalised in the course of the coming week. The same core group of the BCCI that dealt with Kirsten before his appointment will be entrusted with this task. The names of those in the new selection panel "will be announced" during the Board's AGM, to be held in Mumbai on September 27 and 28.
GRV? No chance
Some media reports claimed that former India captain Gundappa Viswanath was the front-runner to succeed Dilip Vengsarkar as the chairman of national selection panel. However, those reports were baseless since the Board constitution clearly states that a person who has worked as a selector for four years can never be appointed a selector again. Viswanath, it may be recalled, was the chief selector from 1992-93 to '95-96.