Ajit Agarkar appointed India men's chairman of selectors by BCCI | Crickit
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Ajit Agarkar appointed India men's chairman of selectors by BCCI; takes over post lying vacant since February

Jul 05, 2023 07:21 AM IST

Former India all-rounder Ajit Agarkar has been appointed as the Chairman of the Indian Senior Men's Selection Committee, the BCCI announced on Tuesday.

Ajit Agarkar, the former India T20 World Cup winning all-rounder, has been appointed as the BCCI's new chairman of selectors for men's team. Agarkar, 45, takes over the post which has been lying vacant since February following Chetan Sharma's ouster after a sting operation carried out on him by a TV channel landed him in hot waters. The BCCI rules mandate that the most capped Test player in the five-member committee should be named its head. Once it was decided that Indian cricket needed a chairman with a stronger profile than Shiv Sundar Das (23 Tests), who had been serving as interim head, the board officials found it tough to get a replacement from North Zone which Sharma had represented.

Ajit Agarkar replaces Chetan Sharma as the new chairman of men's selection committee. (Ajit Agarkar/Instagram)
Ajit Agarkar replaces Chetan Sharma as the new chairman of men's selection committee. (Ajit Agarkar/Instagram)

It will thus mark a first that there will be two selectors from the same zone. Both Agarkar (26 Tests) and fellow selector Salil Ankola are from West as well as the same state unit (Mumbai). Ankola could make way for a North Zone selector due course, according to an official in the know of things. He will be the selector on tour in the West Indies, where India play two Tests, three ODIs and five T20s starting July 12. Subroto Banerjee and Sridharan Sharath are the other selectors.

Agarkar, a veteran of 191 ODIs and 26 Tests, was the frontrunner for the position after being interviewed by the Cricket Advisory Committee which consists of Sulakshana Naik, Ashok Malhotra and Jatin Paranjape. Agarkar, who has picked 349 international wickets in a career lasting nine years boasts a strong resume, having earlier prospered in the limited administration roles assigned to him. From 2017 to 2019, Agarkar served as Mumbai' chairman of selectors and was part of the Delhi Capitals along with coach Ricky Ponting and director of cricket Sourav Ganguly.

As Agarkar's official stint begins, his first and foremost task will be to announce India's squad for the five T20I against West Indies. The line-ups for ODIs and Tests were announced last month, but with Indian cricket making a transition, which has begun with the T20I set-up wearing a relatively younger and fresher look under Hardik Pandya, Agarkar would want to streamline players who will represent India at the T20 World Cup next year in the West Indies and USA.

Agarkar's credentials as a performer made him the unanimous choice for the post. Besides picking up nearly 350 wickets, Agarkar was pretty much an integral part of the Indian team between 1997 and 2007. He holds the record for the fastest half-century by an Indian in ODIs – achieved against Zimbabwe in 2000 – and is one of the only three players from that star-studded 'Fab Five' era to score an international century at the iconic Lord's Cricket Ground, a distinction that has eluded Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag.

With the ball, Agarkar's accuracy and deadly inswingers made him a skiddy customer. He would often crank up speeds in the early 140s before slowing down over a period of time. He played an instrumental role in India's famous win in Adelaide 2003, where a mesmerising spell of 6/41 broke Australia's back in the second innings. Of course, the Test was known for Rahul Dravid's brilliant 233 in the first innings, but it was Agarkar's destruction that took the cake.

For nearly a decade, Agarkar was the quickest player to race to 50 ODI wickets, requiring just 23 matches. His record was broken by Sri Lanka spinner Ajanta Mendis, who did it three matches quicker. Overall, he is third in the list with Nepal spinner Sandeep Lamichhane.

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