Just 10 days before their Davis Cup World Group first-round tie against Japan, France captain Yannick Noah left out of the squad Gael Monfils, their best singles player ranked among the top 10 in the world.
Noah did that because of a perceived lack of interest on part of Monfils to play in the Davis Cup, and instead purse his goal of winning ATP titles. Noah was unhappy because Monfils had pulled out of France’s semifinal clash against Croatia at the last minute, which cost them a place in the final.
“He had his best season last year but played only one singles (Davis Cup) match in Guadeloupe. In the quarterfinals, he was unable to play, but he won a tournament the week after. And he could not play in the semifinals just after reaching the last-four at the US Open,” Noah was quoted as saying as the reason for his unhappiness with Monfils.
Noah’s decision did not backfire and France clinched a spot in the quarterfinals on Saturday, beating Japan.
Noah had the authority to take that call.
In contrast, India’s Davis Cup captain does not have the power to choose his players --- the selectors appointed by the All India Tennis Association pick the squad. Thought the selectors are usually former players and decide the squad after consulting the captain but, in the end, their decision is final.
In recent times, selection of Indian teams for Davis Cup, Olympics and Asian Games has generated much controversy, with the selectors or the federation either bowing to the whims of individual players or taking their own call without paying heed to the captain’s demands.
Much heat has been generated by the decision to drop Rohan Bopanna for the Asia/Oceania Group 1 tie against New Zealand.
India coach Anand Amritraj, who will be replaced by Mahesh Bhupathi after the New Zealand tie, is not a big fan of the system and wants change. “We need to do away with the system of the selection committee picking up the squad. The captain should get that power,” Amritraj told HT.
Many Indian sportspersons have been victims of whimsical decisions of selectors and many a captain/coach have lost their jobs because of decisions taken by selectors, who are ever too willing to pass on the buck for poor performance.
People may argue that having a selection committee helps the captain keep track of all the players. Well, that may have been true in the past but with the benefit of such a well-developed communications system now, the captain/coach/manager can be as well informed --- maybe better – than the selectors.
Therefore, as Amritraj points out that it is time to do away with the selection committees, let’s leave the onus of selection on the captains, coaches and managers and see the difference. It could usher in a new era in Indian sports.