Selection meetings were cordial: Sambaran Banerjee

For all the success Sachin Tendulkar enjoyed as a batsman in his long and illustrious 24-year international career, he could never attain similar feats in his stints as captain of the Indian team.

Sambaran Banerjee
Sambaran Banerjee

He led the side in 25 Tests during which only four wins were witnessed. India lost nine. Even his one-day record as skipper is uninspiring - 73 games, won 23, lost 43.

What’s more, there was a phase in 1997 when Tendulkar, who had been captain for a year was under tremendous pressure as India recorded one failure after another.

There were reports claiming Tendulkar was not happy with the squad that had been picked for the Asia Cup in July and he had protested this decision vigorously.

Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar prior to a selection meeting at the Cricket Club of India in 1997. Sambaran Banerjee is to Tendulkar’s right. Pic/MiDDAY Archives

He was reportedly not happy with the exclusion of Vinod Kambli and wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia from the squad and had made his displeasure clear to the selection panel which included, Ramakant Desai (chairman), Kishen Rungta, Sambaran Banerjee, MP Pandove and Shivlal Yadav.

Nevertheless, Banerjee, who was at the Eden Gardens last Thursday to watch the India vs West Indies Test, still maintains that most of the controversies regarding selection at that time was created unnecessarily. “I don’t agree that Tendulkar was unhappy with the selection. We had very cordial meetings.

Whatever decisions we took were collective. Either ways, it’s been more than 15 years since those reports, so I would not like to speak in great detail,” Banerjee told MiD DAY.

However, here’s are excerpts from a Tendulkar interview which appeared in MiD DAY on September 14, 1997:

You were quoted saying before the Asia Cup that you got a ‘B’ grade team. Is this true?
I never said that.

But you were unhappy with the team you got…
Yes. I did not get the team I wanted.The former Bengal captain wished Tendulkar all the best for his future, saying he had timed his retirement to perfection.
“Only Sachin knew when to announce his retirement and I am happy he did it the moment he felt he did not want to carry on playing.”¬†Banerjee felt cricket in the country can benefit immensely from Tendulkar’s experience, but first he should spend some time with his family. “I feel after November 18, the day he finishes his playing career, Sachin should just focus on his family and spend time with them.¬†“After that, he can always become a selector, coach, commentator, administrator or whatever he likes. Any which ways, cricketers will benefit immensely from him.”¬†

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