New Delhi: It has been more than two years since Anil Kumble stepped down as head coach of the Indian cricket team due to untenable relations with captain Virat Kohli. Since then, Ravi Shastri has occupied the spot including getting a two-year second term this week.
However, if the opinion of Kumble's old teammate Virender Sehwag is to be considered, then 'Jumbo' is someone who is the perfect fit for the role of the chairman of the panel of selectors, a position that is currently held by former wicket-keeper-batsman MSK Prasad.
Speaking at the launch of 'The Selector' App in New Delhi, Sehwag felt that his former India teammate and spin legend was someone who understood both his generation of cricketers as well as the current one, and would be the "right person" for the role.
"He was captain in Test matches and coach of Indian team, so now time for him to become the chairman of Indian selectors. He can take the right calls, and he understands everybody."
"I recall one thing: When Anil Kumble became the captain, he came to my room. I was sitting with my other partner, and he told us, ‘You go and play the way you want to play, because next two series you are included, so nobody will drop you.’ The kind of confidence he gave us in that meeting, it was enormous, and I think he is the right person," said Sehwag.
The former opener, however, didn't quite fancy the idea of becoming a selector himself, given all the restrictions that are part of the job.
"Becoming a selector carries a lot of restrictions along with it. I am barred from doing commentary, writing articles, comment on news channels," said Sehwag, who additionally urged the BCCI to raise the salary of a selector in order to boost interest for the job among former cricketers.
The Prasad-led selection panel has been dealing with the headache of sorting the Indian batting order by finding the ideal batsman for the No. 4 spot. Ambati Rayudu was considered a favourite for the position for quite some time before getting dropped from the team just before the World Cup. The Indian team management have since then primarily gone with Rishabh Pant for the position, although the Delhi batsman is yet to achieve the kind of consistency expected from a player in that role.
Sehwag, when asked about a similar debate in the Test side, felt that the whole 'No. 4' business was more of a team management and a media hype than anything else, and no batsman ever shuts himself out from the possibility of batting at various positions in the XI.
"In Test matches, I don’t think we have a problem of No. 4 because Ajinkya Rahane is playing at No. 4 for a long time... I don’t think any player insists on sticking to a specific spot, and refusing to move up or down."
"It’s perhaps the team management or the media that has hyped up the No. 4 issue. You could even send Ravindra Jadeja out to bat at No. 4, and he will do the job," said Sehwag who accumulated more than 17,000 international runs and two Test triple tons during his playing days.
Sehwag did, however, comment on MS Dhoni's batting position in the defeat to New Zealand in the first semi-final of the 2019 ICC World Cup at Old Trafford. Sehwag felt the keeper-batsman had the experience to anchor the chase after the top-order collapse and guide the likes of Pant and Hardik Pandya in the middle.
"I think MS Dhoni could have won the semi-final for India had he batted up the order. Ball was moving, so it was difficult for them (Pant and Pandya) to adjust, but Dhoni was an experienced player, he has played more than 300 ODIs."
"He was the only one who could handle that kind of pressure, execution and take the game to the last ball," said Sehwag, who was part of the 2011 World Cup-winning Indian team.
Among the widely discussed issues pertaining to Indian cricket at the moment is 'Conflict of Interest', with icons such as Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly coming under the spotlight.
Dravid was sent a notice for occupying the post of Direction of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) as well as being employed by the India Cements Group (owner of Chennai Super Kings) as its vice-president. Ganguly had to deal with the issue as well while holding the responsibility of being a mentor with Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Delhi Capitals as well as president of Cricket Association of Bengal.
Speaking on the topic, Sehwag stated he understood the complexities surrounding the job of a selector, and how conflict of interest is a real issue for that role, but felt it went too far for other positions in the Indian cricket setup.
"I understand that if I am a selector, and I have a cricket academy, then I might pick boys from my academy. But as a coach, I don’t understand how will I be in conflict of interest if I have a cricket academy. Or if I am part of any association, then I cannot become a selector," said Sehwag.
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