No CAC, but BCCI advertises for new selectors

India

Despite having not yet appointed a Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), the BCCI has put out an advertisement to fill positions in the national selection panels including the men’s committee where two members were on extension. On Sunday, the BCCI advertised to fill up the following positions: two slots on the senior men’s selection committee, all five in the senior women’s selection committee, and two on the junior men’s selection panel. Applicants need to apply by January 24.

All applicants need to have retired from the game at least five years ago. Candidates applying for the senior men’s positions should have played a minimum of seven Test matches, or 30 first-class matches, or 10 ODIs and 20 first-class matches. Applicants for the senior women’s positions should have played for the India women team, while the junior men’s candidates should have played a minimum of 25 first-class matches.

Out of the five members on the current men’s selection committee, former India and Andhra wicketkeeper MSK Prasad and former India and Rajasthan batsman Gagan Khoda have been on an extension, having finished their original four-year tenures in November 2019. Both Prasad and Khoda were originally appointed in 2015, as part of the previous selection panel led by former India batsman Sandeep Patil.

Prasad’s panel picked its final squad on January 12 for India’s tour of New Zealand. The selectors were originally scheduled to announce three squads for the tour, which comprises five T20Is, three ODIs and two Tests. However, the BCCI released only the T20I squad, without providing any information on when the ODI and Test squads would be announced.

It remains unclear whether Prasad’s panel will convene one last time to pick those two squads. The ODI series starts on February 5 while the Tests will commence on February 21.

In 2016, the BCCI for the first time picked selectors based on interviews, discarding the long-standing process of picking members from each of the five zones. Joining Prasad and Khoda were three new members – former India offspinner Sarandeep Singh, former India and Bengal batsman Devang Gandhi and former Mumbai captain Jatin Paranjpe. Prasad, being the most experienced, was appointed chairman of selectors.

A productive tenure

If this is the end of the journey for Prasad’s panel, they have plenty to feel proud of. The biggest thing Prasad has stressed in his interactions with the media has been the desire of his panel to solidify India’s bench strength. About three dozen debuts have been taken place across the three formats, with the selectors focused on creating back-ups for every position.

During this panel’s tenure, India reached the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy, won a historic Test series in Australia, solidified their position as the world’s No. 1 Test team, and made the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup. The most contentious call Prasad’s panel had to make concerned the former India captain MS Dhoni, whose wavering batting form raised questions over his place in the limited-overs teams. The selectors kept faith in Dhoni until the 2019 World Cup, but he hasn’t played since the end of the tournament, with Prasad remarking that the selectors had “moved on”. Dhoni’s name was missing from the list of BCCI-contracted players released on Thursday, but the questions over his future haven’t yet been decisively answered, even as Prasad moves on himself.

Uncertainty hangs over CAC situation

Even though the BCCI has issued a call for applicants, it is not clear who exactly will conduct the interviews to pick the new selectors. Even as it has retained the eligibility criteria as mentioned in the constitution that were formed as per the RM Lodha Committee’s recommendations, the board still needs to appoint the CAC, which has been tasked specifically with picking the men’s selection panel. Since last November there has been no CAC, after all three members of the previous panel stepped down in the wake of conflict-of-interest charges filed against them.

The BCCI, which elected a new administration last October led by former India captain Sourav Ganguly, has found itself in a spot trying to find new members for the CAC. Ganguly said appointing a new CAC would be one of the first tasks of his administration, but he has admitted that the existing conflict-of-interest rules have proved to be an obstacle, with former players not keen to serve on the committeee. Nonetheless, three former India players – Madan Lal, Gautam Gambhir and Sulakshana Naik – had recently given the BCCI their nod for joining the CAC.

The BCCI, however, has not yet made the news public, mainly because it is still waiting for the Supreme Court to respond to its plea concerning various amendments to the board’s constitution including relaxing the conflict norms. The court has not yet fixed a hearing date, leaving the BCCI restless.

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