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India vs England: Supreme Court order on BCCI could short-change ODI selection plans

A day after the inevitable Supreme Court order was passed against the BCCI’s top hierarchy, its immediate repercussions started to come into prominence. First and foremost, there is rank confusion in the board corridors. No one wants to assume power, for it will be an interim role to oversee changes. Then, your one term is gone and you will be in cold storage for three years.

It isn’t easy to come forth willingly either, for the Lodha Commission’s strict guidelines have ruled out most of the prevalent administrators. The five vice-presidents are not even eligible, as also the joint-secretary, having served long terms at their respective state associations. Finding the next in-line eligible administrator might prove an equally tough task as finding a replacement finisher for MS Dhoni.

The Indian team in the ODI series against New Zealand. AP

The Indian team in the ODI series against New Zealand. AP

Content, even elated, at India’s rise to No 1 in Test cricket, the average fans’ concern in this New Year ought to be regarding their ODI form. The Champions Trophy is precisely six months away, and once it is over, the clock will start counting down two years to the 2019 World Cup. 24-30 months isn’t a lot of time in international cricket, especially when there is a lot of administrative mess to clean up alongside.

The pressing worry is regarding the three-match ODI series against England (as well as the T20I series.) At the start of this long home season, India were only scheduled to play eight ODIs as opposed to 13 Tests. It is hardly adequate preparation for an ICC event in England. There was this school of thought that the Indian players would be well entrenched in limited-overs’ mode by June, thanks to the annual slam-bang fiesta that happens in April-May.

The Supreme Court’s order though, might have shot down that element. It is anybody’s guess how the BCCI is placed in its preparations for the 2017 IPL season. Last heard, they were lagging behind, unable to sign off on a date for the annual players’ auctions as well as important contracts for the smooth functioning of the six-week long tournament still need approval. At present, the IPL is in danger of missing out, big time, unless the interim committee to be set up on 19 January works in the highest gear possible.

This, though, isn’t about the impact of the court order on IPL and its subsequent bearing on Indian cricketers. It is, instead, about the impending ODIs and how India’s chances at the Champions Trophy might be short-changed, as even the eligibility of the senior team’s five-man selection panel is very much in doubt.

First up, there is the clause of only Test cricketers being eligible for the panel. Straightaway, it rules out Gagan Khoda and Jatin Paranjape from the job, reducing the panel to three men – MSK Prasad, Devang Gandhi and Sarandeep Singh. At this moment in time, it is unclear how this selection panel will work. Furthermore, only the BCCI secretary can convene a meeting of the national selectors.

The CEO of BCCI has called Friday’s meeting with authority from the Lodha panel. Even so, there is also the small matter of the legality of the selection panel. This committee, headed by Prasad, was chosen as per the previous BCCI regime.

Currently, as per Lodha recommendations, the board’s constitution will have to be amended and until such time, there needs to be a decree that current office holders in various bodies will continue in their posts. Can this be done before the Court-ordered committee formally assumes charge on 19 January, four days after the first ODI is to be played in Pune?

It puts a cloud over how the probable Indian squad shape up for these three ODIs, the last in the run-up to the Champions Trophy. There are quite a few unanswered questions, and no concrete answers came up during the New Zealand series, despite India’s easy victory.

The fitness status of Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane is unknown, and both are likely to miss the series. KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan could be India’s second-choice openers. Yet, the consistency needed in the build-up to a global event is missing. And what of the middle order? Will the same combination from the October series – Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav – be retained? Will Suresh Raina come in the picture again? Can Karun Nair be ignored after his triple ton?

And then there is the small matter about the bowling attack – which pace/spin combination ought to play this England series, especially with Axar Patel and Jayant Yadav out nursing injuries.

Atleast Dhoni’s resignation as ODI/T20I captain isn’t a curveball, with Virat Kohli ready to step in With a proper selection panel in place, it would be an easy assumption that there would be some talk about the former skipper’s role in this ODI team of the future. It would be an add-on to any answers coming forward to the aforementioned questions. But this is already quite distant from the kind of preparation – even if restricted – warranted for the Champions Trophy this summer.

An administrative clean up is all very fine, for it was a long-standing need. However, in the dilly-dallying between the BCCI and the Supreme Court, an ultimate cost of this cleansing job might well be seen on the field, and soon.

Updated Date: Jan 06, 2017 09:37 AM

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