It pays to be in the good books of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. And there's probably no one who knows that better than Sandeep Patil.
The former India batsman, who was reportedly getting more than Rs 70 lakh as the director of operations at NCA, succeeded Kris Srikkanth as the chief selector.
On the day, Patil was announced as chairman of the selection committee, the Annual General body Meeting also decided to increase the salary of the senior national selectors from Rs 40 lakh to 60 lakh per annum. But because Patil was already getting 70 lakhs, he wasn't too pleased with the downgrade. So he met BCCI president N Srinivasan in Chennai a week before the announcement and asked him to raise the stakes.
“It was president N Srinivasan’s decision to pay him ten lakh more as he was getting paid more at the National Cricket Academy. His contract with the NCA was about to complete in October and the president felt that it would be unfair to ask Patil to work for a salary which is lesser than at his previous assignment. Negotiations were conducted and it was decided to pay Patil Rs 70 lakh per annum while other zonal selectors would be paid Rs 60 lakhs,” a top BCCI official told Indian Express on condition of anonymity.
Now, no one exactly knows how and when Patil came into the reckoning for the job. Abey Kuruvilla, the former India medium pacer, was named chairman of Mumbai's senior selection committee on September 21 -- a move that everyone thought paved the way for him to take over as selector from the West Zone. But no one accounted for Srinivasan.
Srinivasan, whose term as President extends till 2014, did some great maneuvering before and during the AGM to ensure that his man -- Patil -- got the job.
And when the stakes are so high, there is bound be some controversy. A report in The Times of India alleges that three cricketers who are part of the Indian WT20 team called up senior BCCI officials to lobby for a former India player to be chosen as selector from the Central Zone.
One of the players who made the phone calls is an explosive batsman, while another is a handy middle-order player. The person they were lobbying for had played for India in one-day internationals, though not Tests. However, the lobbying backfired as the furious board members made sure the former player was not considered for the post. Instead, former Uttar Pradesh player and coach Rajinder Singh Hans was named the selector from Central Zone.
Now, if this is indeed true then it is very disturbing news. A nexus between selectors and players just cannot be tolerated. But the stakes are so high, that everyone want a bite of the cake.
As things stand, being an Indian selector is probably the coolest job in the world.
You get to watch matches, travel with the team, get a daily allowance of 300 dollars (reportedly). You don't have to explain your picks to the media. You don't have to sit before a review committee after a bad tour. You just have to toe the BCCI's line and make sure you put the rubber stamp on the right page. If you don't, you end up like Mohinder Amarnath and lose out on a 60-70 lakh contract. Now, how many former cricketers would have the courage to do that?
Srinivasan and the BCCI have also ensured that by giving the selectors just one year contracts, they are pretty much ensuring that the selectors will stay in line. But there are times when a selector is forced to take a risk, will the five 'wise' men be able to do that now? Also, planning for the future cannot be done with just a one year lease. It's too short.
For a selector to bring his vision to fruition, he definitely needs more than a year and a free hand. Srikkanth and Co failed to take this team forward and now the new selectors are expected to pretty much follow in the same vein.
But, sadly, you won't hear the slightest murmur of protest from anyone.