Sudhir Naik’s appointment as Mumbai Cricket Association’s senior selection committee chief on Wednesday has already stirred up fresh controversy in the city’s cricketing circles.
The appointment hasn’t gone down well with a few MCA committee members as its president Ravi Savant had assured them that Karsan Ghavri would be appointed as senior selection committee chief.
Although his appointment is likely to be challenged in the next managing committee meeting later this month, Naik, former India cricketer and Mumbai’s Ranji-winning skipper, shot back at his critics in an interview to MiD DAY yesterday.
Many feel National Cricket Club cricketers will be promoted since you run the club. Also, your fellow selector Raju Sutar played for the club...
Since we both are from National CC, it doesn’t mean that we will select players only from our club. Earlier, Naren Tamhane, Milind Rege and myself were part of the Mumbai selection committee. We were also together at Tatas. But that didn’t mean we selected players only from Tatas. When Ramakant Desai (chairman) and Vijay Bhosale were part of the selection committee, they both worked for ACC (Associated Cement Companies). Earlier, nobody would talk like this. Only nowadays, we hear about such things because there are too many mean-minded people (in the association). Unfortunately, they don’t even know the ABC of cricket.
Another talking point is that you will not find time for Mumbai cricket since you are part of BCCI’s Ground and Pitch Committee...
Let me make this very clear: I don’t travel throughout the month. On an average, I travel once or twice every month. One can check the records at the BCCI office. I am available all the time for Mumbai. The moment one is appointed as a BCCI selector, you by default become a part of the MCA selection committee. So the (conflict of interest) factor is negated here too. On the contrary, I am available at the Wankhede Stadium for almost 25 to 26 days in a month.
A few committee members feel Karsan Ghavri should have been made chief selector as he played more cricket for India than you.
We cricketers never think like that. Only those who haven’t played any cricket can talk like this. When I was the chief selector in 1993-94 and 1994-95, Dilip Vengsarkar (former India captain) was in my committee. When Dilip was asked whether he wants to be chairman, he said, ‘No. Sudhir is my senior and he should be made chairman.’ Even Karsan was in my committee at that time. Cricketers respect their seniors. It is only these mean-minded people who make cricketers fight amongst themselves.
What are your aims for Mumbai’s cricket?
I have been a chief selector before — in 1993-94 and 1994-95. Incidentally, when I first became the chief selector, Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy after eight years. I feel the selection was improper (in the last few years). Many good cricketers were not getting chances. I will try my best to give chances to those who have the potential to play for India. My aim is to give opportunities to young outstanding cricketers so that Mumbai is once again the pipeline for Indian cricket. There are many outstanding young cricketers who need to be promoted, but they are made to play age-group tournaments because their teams are weak without them. Then, there are cases of vested interests where we see players being picked at the age of 27 and 28. They have no chance of playing for India, but still make it to the Ranji squad. They should not be picked at all! They can only play if there is a shortage of good young cricketers. By this, I don’t mean that cricketers, who have already settled down, should quit. Wasim Jaffer is playing for Mumbai for almost 15 years now. He should definitely continue as he is our backbone. But around him, we should have young batsmen, who can be groomed for the higher level.
What made you take up this responsibility at the age of 68?
Over the years I was deeply saddened when I heard a few selectors pass inappropriate remarks about young cricketers. If a batsman scores 120 out of the team’s total of 200, he deserves to be praised. Instead, I have heard selectors say iska shots plot ke bahar bhi nahi pahucta (His shots don’t even travel the distance). I felt very bad at that time. Instances like these made me take up the post.