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Cricket Columns

Amarnath issue: The silence of the compromised
Pradeep Magazine
September 30, 2012
First Published: 00:28 IST(30/9/2012)
Last Updated: 00:31 IST(30/9/2012)

The name Mohinder Amarnath evokes memories of a brilliant, resilient batsman, who would wipe the blood oozing from his forehead, and square up fearlessly to face the next ball from the menacing paceman whose bouncer had done the damage to his face.

Mohinder is also remembered for standing up to the cricketing establishment and calling the selectors a "bunch of jokers" in his playing days. He was at one time the face of rebellion, someone who had the guts and courage to stand up to the autocratic ways of the Board, even if it risked his playing career.

When Amarnath was junked as a selector, though it was his turn to become the chairman of the panel, the presiding deity of the Board, N Srinivasan, dismissed the news as an internal matter of the Board on which they did not want any "public debate".

Given Amarnath's image of being a man of few words, who says what he means and does not cower in front of the powerful, one would say this rupture between the Board and him was expected. In fact, his appointment in the first place itself was surprising in a set-up which does not tolerate anyone having a view different from those in power (read Srinivasan).

Unless someone explains, Amarnath's appointment last year will remain a mystery though his getting the axe will be construed as a logical step from a panicky Board who want the selectors to toe their line.

Among the many reasons floating around on why Srinivasan got the jitters, the most widely speculated, heard and believed, is that Amarnath wanted MS Dhoni to be removed as Test captain after India's rout in Australia. What an audacious move, especially in a set-up where Dhoni is a sacrosanct figure. He is an "untouchable" and why not, a majority would say, given what he has achieved. His detractors, who grew in numbers after the lackadaisical, indifferent manner in which he led India on the tours of England and Australia, would say that Srinivasan would protect Dhoni as long as he is skipper of the Chennai Super Kings, the IPL team the Board president owns.

The previous chairman of the selection committee, Kris Srikkanth, made no effort to hide where his affiliation lay. The man who selected the India team, was also the brand ambassador of the Chennai Super Kings, and, it is believed had many brushes with Amarnath in the selection committee.

With no Srikkanth to tame him in the selection committee, and given Amarnath's seniority - he would have been its chairman - he would have been in a better position to implement his "revolutionary" ideas. And that must have scared the Board president.

In the absence of any credible flow of information from the Board, which does not want a "public debate" on the Amarnath issue, what actually transpired will remain in the realms of speculation.

The man at the helm of this controversy can lift this shroud of stealth and intrigue surrounding this decision, if he chooses to do so. Is his silence so far a tactical retreat? Or is it, like everyone else connected with cricket in India these days, the silence of the compromised?


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