“Our coach Vikram Rathour told us to just enjoy the game. This is a good challenge before the Australia series.”
This is what Suresh Raina reportedly said before the Irani Cup which kicked off at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday. It’s probably fair to ask as to why Rathour, who is part of Sandeep Patil’s five-man national selection committee, is coach of the Rest of India team when he ought to be seen with his fellow selectors.
India selector & Rest of India coach Vikram Rathour (centre) with Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag (left) at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday. Pic/Suresh KK
Rathour’s reputation is spotless and it’s not his fault that he has been given coaching responsibilities. However, a national selector is supposed to be viewed as an absolutely neutral party and by having him as coach of one team (Rest of India) against another (Mumbai) which also has players looking to don India colours, does not give fairness a good name.
Though Rathour was seen talking/helping members of both teams in the lead-up to yesterday’s Irani Cup Day One, one must not forget that this is a big match considering there are places up for grabs for the home series against Australia. In a battle of big stakes, player vs player confrontation cannot be ruled out. And if that happens, wouldn’t Rathour get involved as coach of one of the teams? Wonder what stopped the establishment from getting India ‘A’ coach Lalchand Rajput to handle the team.
The first words a former selector uttered when informed about Rathour’s additional job by MiD DAY yesterday were, “I see this as conflict of interest.”
Another selector, who was an integral part of the national panel less than a decade ago, said, “although I have no reason to believe that Rathour will discharge his duties well, a selector shouldn’t be made a coach even if this has happened before. There was one selector in our committee, who used to be called in regularly for such duties and he enjoyed it. But this is wrong and Rathour cannot be blamed.”
A former junior India selector reckoned that selectors being asked to double up as coaches could lead to advantageous situations to players who belong to his (in this case Rest of India) team.