Sep 10, 2006 at 03:33pm IST

BCCI out to set its house in order

New Delhi: The national selectors announced the squads for the Champions Trophy and the Malaysia tri-series on September 10.

It was the last time chairman of selectors Kiran More was selecting an Indian team.

But some critical questions remain like just how many selectors should be in the committee -- three or five?

Other points of contention are should the zonal system be scrapped altogether and should the selectors be fully paid professionals or not?

On March 26, 2006, leading Indian cricketers took part in a special cricket committee meeting chaired by former Board of Control for Cricket in India chief IS Bindra.

The agenda was how to improve the state of the game and more importantly the entire process of selection of Team India.

"Of the many suggestions one was how to improve the selection process. But it does not mean that the present selection process is not good," Board of Control for cricket in India (BCCI) Secretary Niranjan Shah says.

Nine recommendations were made of which the important ones were firstly the selectors must be insulated from temptations and for that they should not be honorary receiving an honorarium.

Secondly the selectors must be contracted to the BCCI and should work full time for a fixed tenure. Thirdly just as the ICC Code of Conduct binds the players the selectors must also be subjected to closer scrutiny.

The other recommendations were that considering the vastness of the country the present system of five selectors should continue, the panel should take extra care in picking the junior selection committees as it is there that the real damage is done to national cricket and most importantly all agree that the job of the selectors is thankless, and yet the credibility and the integrity of the selector should not come into question.

Clearly, the BCCI is aware that there are a few glaring weaknesses in the system. And one of their major challenges over the next few years is to ensure that the best talent gets the opportunity to express itself from the bottom to top.

It also seems the raging debate over whether there should be five selectors or three has forced the BCCI to consider the issue seriously.

"If I am one of the selectors and I am sitting in Madras how can I know what is happening in Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata. I would only know about the happenings in Tamil Nadu or the south zone. So I think the five-member selection committee is superb for a vast country," Former India skipper Srikkanth says.

But there are bigger problems and former selectors argue that often they get caught in the middle of internal politics within the board.

"Every year there is election for the BCCI and whosoever wins selects the committee for the next year. So that is a big problem. If the selectors are given a fixed tenure of say three years or five years irrespective of who is in power then the selectors will perform much better," former selector Yahspal Sharma says.

If all the recommendations see the light of day, India will have much improved selection system from the grassroots to the top level.

And it will also help the BCCI to keep its promise of making Indian cricket more professional.