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BCCI need to follow ECB, CA’s process of healthy communication with media regarding squad selection

Geoff Miller Hugh Morris

In the run-up to the selection of the England side for the upcoming Ashes series in Australia, national selector Geoff Miller (left) described the situation as ‘frantic’ © Getty Images

The habit of briefing the press about selections and explaining the vision helps clear the air around a squad announced ahead of an important series. While England and Australia are among the countries that follow this organised process, Indian selectors (under BCCI) surely have a thing to learn from these countries. Abhijit Banare sheds light on the importance of selectors maintaining a healthy communication with the media.

The England squad to tour Australia for the 2013-14 Ashes was announced on Monday and it elicited a variety of opinions right from the inclusion of youngsters to the exclusion of Graham Onions, Nick Compton and the others in contention. For national selector Geoff Miller though it is yet again a litmus test. Choosing a squad which has the potential to become the World No 1 in Tests is certainly amongst the most responsible jobs in the world. The media scrutiny over the selections was evident.

‘Frantic’ is the word to term in the run-up to selections, says Miller. As he further explains in the video below, the selection team spends hours and hours examining various players and then the probables are trimmed to a team of 17. Apart from announcing the squad they have to speak to each player who made it and who didn’t, communicate with the captains, player managers, coaches. While the process may be more or less the same across other major cricketing nations, the ability to explain and justify the selection helps to clear the air to a great extent.

Not that nasty stuff hasn’t been written by players and media about the selections, but at least there is a clear reasoning from one side. There is much to think about someone like Michael Carberry finding a place ahead of an experienced Compton. But Miller explains the potential of the Hampshire player despite his average One-Day International (ODI) run so far. Carberry’s technical abilities and experience to stay put on the wickets found Down Under prompted his selection. Perhaps much of this little reasoning would’ve been unknown if the selector wasn’t forthcoming. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia (CA) are classic examples of good communication in these aspects.

It certainly is a thankless job. When we look at the Indian national selectors, it is equally ‘frantic’ for someone like Sandeep Patil and co to pick and finalise a team in a country where talent is unearthed from unheard of places. And once the squad is announced, the thankless job begins, receiving brickbats for harsh calls from the media and ‘disappointed’, ‘I was expecting to be selected’, other disgruntled quotes from players who didn’t make it. These are things which are bound to happen and certainly, not everyone leaves the place happy. But what’s more damaging is the unwanted speculations that fly around regarding the decisions of the selectors which is nothing but blindly pointing fingers in more than four directions. And much of this can be averted by communicating through a simple press conference.

Apart from logical decisions, the selectors are also credited for their vision for a team and how consistently they are able to stick to that. And on many occasions, this vision overrules the form the player is in.

In India though, selections are like a surprise package which lands up in the form of press releases. Selections are often a closed door affair, and for those dropped: it comes as a puzzle for the youngsters. For the seniors, the media criticism over form excludes them from the team much before selectors do. For example, someone like Ajinkya Rahane may still not be able to make sense where his international career is heading. Everytime he finds himself out of the team, there’s not much he can decipher from despite scoring enough runs.

Recently, The Indian Express had published a story on Patil having a word with Sachin Tendulkar over his merit earning a place in the team post the 200th Test. The front-page story created much news and furore until Patil came out in the open and denied it. This story, coming from a paper which enjoys a formidable track record of credibility leaves the reader with no rocket science to infer that either of the two is incorrect. Moreover, a legend like Tendulkar is ultimately human and is going to retire at some point of time. Being forthcoming about his presence in the team might not always go down well in popularity but Patil certainly has the authority to express it.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) hardly enjoys a positive relation with media disclosing its internal affairs, or to put it the other way round — it chooses not to maintain a positive relation, the same is reflected in the way they maintain the other issues as well. Purely for the sake of players, explaining their vision and opinions on various players in contention makes sense. All that can happen at the end of the day is a flurry of questions posed by the media but their decision will remain as it is and no one can force them to backtrack. At least the reason is known to everyone.

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)

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