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Vengsarkar backs Ganguly's return

"Let me assure you I will not close the door on any player," says BCCI's new chief selector.

india Updated: Oct 09, 2006 14:35 IST

Indian cricket's new chief selector, Dilip Vengsarkar, on Thursday backed Sourav Ganguly's bid to return to the national team, saying no player would be discriminated against.

"There will be no bias against any player, we will go purely by form," Vengsarkar said a day after replacing Kiran More as chairman of India's five-man selection committee.

"Let me assure you I will not close the door on any player. My message to players is that only performance and fitness will matter if anyone is looking to make a comeback or wants to play for India.

"I am pretty clear that merit will be the only criteria. Get big runs if you are a batsman and big wickets if you are a bowler. Prove yourself in domestic cricket."

Ganguly was sacked as captain and later dropped from the national side by More's previous committee following unfavourable comments from coach Greg Chappell, who said Ganguly was a "disrupting influence" in the team.

The stylish left-hander, 34, has not played a one-day international since September last year and was dropped from the Test squad after the tour of Pakistan in February.

Ganguly dispelled speculation that he was going to retire from the game, insisting he was still good enough to play for his country and that he would show his form in domestic cricket this season.

The left-hander on Tuesday was handed a berth in the domestic Challenger one-day series in Chennai from October 1-4, a selection trial for the busy international season that culminates with the World Cup in the Caribbean next March.

He has not been selected for next month's Champions Trophy, but Ganguly is being regarded as a serious candidate for the tour of South Africa later this year and the World Cup, with the floundering Indian team having won just one of its last nine one-dayers.

He is one of only four batsmen in the world to score more than 10,000 runs in limited-overs cricket and has played in two World Cups, the last as captain in 2003 when India reached the final.

Vengsarkar, himself a former Test captain, admitted India had not performed to expectations lately but said he was not unduly worried.

"I don't believe in brooding about the past and would prefer to look ahead and focus on how the team will get better," he said.

"The good thing is that we have a lot of cricket before the World Cup. After the Champions Trophy, we tour South Africa and will host Sri Lanka and the West Indies for one-day series.

"This will definitely help us to find the best players for the job in the World Cup."

Vengsarkar said he shared good relations with Chappell, the former Australian captain, since playing against him in the 1980s.

"I will be meeting both Chappell and captain Rahul Dravid during the Challengers and try and understand what they have in mind. We will work as a team."

Vengsarkar, who retired in 1992 after a 16-year career as a top-order batsman, played 116 Tests and scored 6,868 runs at an average of 42.13 with 17 centuries.

He also played 129 one-day internationals and captained India in 10 Tests, winning two and losing five while three were drawn.

Former Test spinner Venkatapathy Raju joins Vengsarkar in the selection committee. The other selectors are Ranjib Biswal, Sanjay Jagdale and Bhupinder Singh.

Of the five, only Vengsarkar and Raju have played Test cricket.