When the selectors meet on Thursday to pick the team for the five one-day internationals against Sri Lanka and for the Champions Trophy, it will be the last meeting of the present committee.
Former India left-arm spinner, Venkatapathy Raju, never harboured ambitions of becoming a national selector, but in this interview to the Hindustan Times, he looks back at his two-year tenure with satisfaction.
How do you look back at your tenure as selector?
We were lucky to have a very good group and I enjoyed my term. As selector, you’ll make a couple of friends and also lose some. On the whole, we did a decent job despite the ups and downs. There were several collective decisions taken in consultation with the captain.
A couple of decisions we took, worked. One was making Anil (Kumble) captain for the tour of Australia, which required handling of controversies off the field.
Because of the busy schedule, you don’t have India players playing too many domestic matches. There were some good performances but we couldn’t judge them because several international players weren’t playing.
International cricket is all about rhythm. Sometimes, when you’re out of form and get dropped, there are no domestic games and we do feel sorry for the players.
The World Cup was disappointing because we thought we had picked the best possible team. That’s cricket. We had some strong performances too — the Twenty20 World Cup and Test wins abroad. We tried to do what was best for Indian cricket, and in a way succeeded. Hopefully, it will be the same for the other selectors.
Did your experience as a player, especially having been dropped a few times, help in your current role?
I was lucky to lead Hyderabad several times, so I attended many selection meetings.
It made things easier. The selection committee sometimes has to take tough decisions, in the best interests of the team.
As a player, you are disappointed when you are dropped but as a selector, you have to move on.
We took a couple of decisions like introducing young players in the 50-over game, and it clicked.
Unfortunately, we did not get many chances to see players making strong comebacks. But we did see a few who were dropped, going back to domestic cricket and proving themselves and getting breaks at the right time.
On hindsight was the World Cup debacle an eye opener?
The saying goes, ‘whatever happens, happens for the good’. In that sense, the World Cup opened everyone’s eyes and they knew where they stood. It made the players more determined.
We did not make too many changes immediately as we knew this team didn’t deserve to be knocked out before the Super Eights. After the flak they got, it’s good the team came back strongly.
How difficult is it to build for tomorrow while ensuring a secure present?
The players have to move on at some stage. They’ve done a great job and they know when it is time to leave. ‘A’ tours really help the selectors. If we have more three-day games, it will help build the Test team.