Will Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and some other high-profile seniors be dropped for the tour of Bangladesh? Sections of the media have emphatically said so, but the Indian selectors claim they have no clue why such reports are in circulation.
“I am shocked and appalled by what I saw and read,” said one selector. “How can unnamed board sources be quoted saying Ganguly and Tendulkar and the others will be dropped? On what cricketing grounds can we drop someone like Zaheer Khan? If the BCCI has disciplinary issues with any of them, that is something it has to take a call on. If it doesn’t, we can pick whoever we want to. Who told that mysterious official whatever he has said, and what locus standi has anyone but the selection committee have to decide on selections?”
Another selector was equally livid at what he called “malicious plants” by a section of the BCCI, determined to axe some seniors. “We are not puppets of the BCCI,” he said. “Obviously, suggestions from the board are always welcome, but finally a selection committee is there for a purpose.”
He said India performed badly at the World Cup, and the batsmen were at fault, especially the senior batsmen. “In that case, what is Rahul Dravid?” he said. “He is not a youngster. He is the best batsman in the team in both forms of the game at the moment. So as a top batsman and as skipper, isn't he also at fault? How can we hold everyone else at fault but him?”
He said it was vital for India to win at the moment.
"We have had many months of processes and experiments that were supposed to get us the World Cup,” he said. “So now, after we did not get it, why on earth should we do something risky in the form of testing the waters? This is a critical time for Indian cricket and what is most important here is that we go to Bangladesh and beat the team.”
Another selector agreed completely. “We have to pick the best possible side if we want to win. It’s as simple as that and that would also be what Rahul wants. He would not want to go there with total greenhorns and lessen his chances of a win. It’s not a question of young or old. Obviously, this is also a time to try a couple of fresh faces but we need to win. Would the BCCI give the same order if we were playing Australia?
Bangladesh is no longer a club-level side and people in the board and elsewhere should remember that. They have beaten India and South Africa, and if we lose a series there, it would demoralise the youngsters completely.”
Another selector blamed the media for being used by “anyone with an agenda”. “I am sick of these questions,” he said. “We have not met yet. We have received no official directive from the board on anyone. We will talk with each other soon and then look at options.”
Also on Tuesday, a senior BCCI official, while admitting that unnecessary plants were being spread through the media, said Bangladesh might be the best place to try out some new faces. “We might only suggest that a few seniors be rested,” he said. “It would be up to the selectors.”
Would it really? It might well be seen as a directive. And against this backdrop of suspicion and intrigue, any “rest” would be viewed as the same as being axed.