Narendra Hirwani’s Test debut was a dream one (16 wickets against the West Indies in the 1988 Chennai Test) and so was his tenure as a national selector, according to him. From India’s ascendancy to No 1 in Test cricket to the 2011 World Cup triumph, these events took place during his term.
Today, the Board of Control for Cricket in India will appoint a new selection panel.
Hirwani’s mentoring role which benefited the spinners earned lavish praise from BCCI mandarins.
“I derived immense pleasure in coaching all the frontline spinners during my stint as a national selector. Be it Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh), Piyush Chawla, Pragyan Ojha or R Ashwin. All of them followed what I told them to and they got the results. Bringing talented players on the right track is an achievement itself,” Hirwani told MiD DAY from Indore yesterday.
“We had some amazing experiences as selectors. In our committee, every member had an equal say and we expressed our opinion on every issue, but all decisions were taken unanimously.”
Team India’s World Cup winning feat in 2011 was a result of proper planning and sheer honesty, according to Hirwani (43). “Honesty was one thing that we never compromised on. I think a selector’s job is easy as long you are honest and dedicated. We performed our job as selectors in the same way as we played cricket - with integrity,” said Hirwani.
He elaborated: “We stressed on performance and talent. Our committee persisted with several players who were talented, but that may not have reflected in their performance instantly. We backed them as we knew they would come good at the right time.”
The Indore man didn’t spare the critics who called for the selectors’ heads after every failure. “People can criticise after things go wrong. But you need to visualise well. I think we did that to the best of our abilities. We don’t need anyone’s certificate though,” he said.
Asked about the wrath he and his colleagues copped after India’s 0-4 drubbing in England last year, he said: “It is thankless job. If you win, everyone will praise you, but when you lose, the knives are out immediately. We picked the right squad for England, but unfortunately it didn’t click,” he said.
Jimmy faces stiff challenge from Chauhan
Mohinder ‘Jimmy’ Amarnath faces a stiff challenge from his former Delhi and India teammate Chetan Chauhan to stay in the national selection committee as the North Zone representative. It is learnt that certain Delhi administrators are pushing for Chauhan to get the post. However, the former India opening batsman has been a selector in the late 1980s when he served under the chairmanship of Bapu Nadkarni (1987-88) and Raj Singh Dungarpur (1988-89).
In fact, Chauhan was part of the selection panel which dropped Amarnath from the 1988-89 home series against New Zealand. It was after this decision that Amarnath called the selectors a bunch of jokers.
“Perhaps they (selectors) don’t like my face... they are a bunch of jokers,” he said on the eve of the Bangalore Test in November 1988.
Orissa’s former India seamer Debasis Mohanty also faces stiff competiiton — from Bengal’s Deep Das Gupta and Devang Gandhi.