Ahmedabad: Former India pacer Chetan Sharma was on Thursday appointed chairman of the senior national selection panel by the BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), which also picked Mumbai’s Abey Kuruvilla and Odisha’s Debasis Mohanty in the five-member team.
The new panel was formed on the sidelines of the Board’s 89th Annual General Meeting (AGM) here, with Sharma pipping Maninder Singh and Vijay Dahiya from the north zone.
“It’s indeed a privilege for me to get an opportunity to serve Indian cricket once again. I am a man of few words and my action will speak louder than words,” Sharma, who has a five-wicket haul at Lord’s in a Test match, told PTI. “I can only thank BCCI for this opportunity,” the 54-year-old added.
Former medium-pacer Kuruvilla, who was backed by Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) bigwigs, was preferred over a more decorated Ajit Agarkar from the west zone. Mohanty, a former India seamer from Odisha, was serving as a junior national selector for the last two years and will remain in the committee for another couple of years only.
The selection panel also comprises former India players Sunil Joshi (south zone) and Harvinder Singh (central zone). “The committee further recommended Chetan Sharma for the role of chairman of the senior men’s selection committee based on seniority (total number of Test matches),” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a press release. “The CAC will review the candidates after a one-year period and make the recommendations to the BCCI,” Shah added.
As per the BCCI constitution, the candidate with the most Test caps becomes the chief selector. Sharma represented India in 23 Tests and 65 ODIs during an 11-year-old international career, the highlight of which was his hat-trick in the 1987 World Cup.
At the age of 16, Sharma started playing first-class cricket for Haryana and made his Test debut aged 18, a year after making his ODI debut against the West Indies in December 1983.
The main deliberation on the day was to ensure a safe passage for Kuruvilla, whose cricketing achievements were no match for Agarkar, who was the only candidate with more than 200 international appearances among the contenders.
“Agarkar never had the support of the Mumbai Cricket Association. There were allegations that he didn’t watch matches as Mumbai chief selector. The MCA was adamant that Abey is their man,” a senior BCCI source told PTI.
“Abey had backing from really influential people in Mumbai cricket fraternity and he played his cards really well. There was no way Ajit, despite his cricketing record, would have pipped Abey,” he added. It is learnt that some of the candidates were asked questions pertaining to the roadmap of Indian cricket and also hypothetical questions on the split captaincy.
While for Joshi, who remained the chairman of selectors since his appointment to the post in March, after which cricketing activities came to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was always on the cards. “Joshi was made chairman with the premise that someone else will take over once all the members of the panel are changed,” he said.
The new selection committee’s first meeting will be held to pick the squad for the full-fledged home series against England. The Madan Lal-led CAC also comprises R P Singh and Sulakshana Nai.