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‘Be ready for a thankless task’

Srikkanth, outgoing India cricket selection committee head, reflects on his role

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During the tenure of K. Srikkanth, India won the 2011 World Cup and climbed to thenumber one spot in the Test rankings the year before.
Gulf News

Dubai: The role of selectors in Indian cricket has been, as the cliché goes, a thankless one — more so for the chairman who is the face of the committee.

Even a high point like their selected team winning the World Cup cannot change that perception, but Krish Srikkanth has come to terms with it.

“It’s a thankless job for, when the team wins, all the credit goes to them and that’s the way it should be. For me, it was only a way of serving the country,” the outgoing chairman of the selection committee told Gulf News. The swashbuckling opener of the 1980s has just given up his role after serving a full term of four years with his erstwhile teammate — Sandeep Patil — succeeding him.

India captain MS Dhoni and co had, during Srikkanth’s tenure, won the 2011 World Cup and climbed to the number one spot in the Test rankings the year before. If these two landmarks were the highs, Srikkanth had to bear the brunt of several contentious issues in the latter half of his term; the most crucial of them being the call for his head, as well as the suggestion to replace Dhoni at the top following the whitewash in England and Australia in the 2011-12 season.

Reflecting on his position, Srikkanth said in a telephone interview: “It has been a good journey on the whole, where I have learnt a lot. What gives me immense satisfaction is the way we planned for the World Cup last year after I took over in 2008.

“As for the poor performances in the two away series in England and Australia, I take it as a part and parcel of the game and accept the responsibilities. However, if you look at both the series closely, you will see that the team had their chances to seize the initiative in the first two Tests but failed to do so. The first couple of Tests in an away series are extremely vital and that’s where they [the team] lost it mentally. However, what some tend to forget is that during this phase, we drew a series for the first time in South Africa and did well in New Zealand,” said Srikkanth.

The last four years have also witnessed a major transition in Indian cricket, with four members of the Fab Five: Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman walking into the sunset in phases. While Kumble and Dravid could see the writing on the wall, there was a tinge of regret in the manner Ganguly was “spoken to” for giving up in 2008, while Laxman quit in a huff on the eve of the New Zealand series at home recently.

Asked how difficult it was to handle such unpleasant situations, a cautious Srikkanth said: “It was a natural process. You cannot really force anyone to retire and it’s not easy to replace players of this calibre.”

The other ticklish issue which has continued to dog Srikkanth during his regime was the allegations of “bias” in selecting players from his home state Tamil Nadu — which is also the backyard of N.Srinivasan, the BCCI strongman and now its president. Such an allegation can surely get under the skin of anyone, and even the affable Srikkanth was no different: “See, this is what they have been saying from the beginning and I don’t want to answer this question.”

Finally, what’s his message to old friend Sandeep Patil in his new role as chairman of the senior national selection committee from West Zone?

“The agenda before the new committee should be to see how we can regain the number one status in Tests,” he said.