Virender Sehwag is never one to back away from a challenge, whether on the pitch or off it. The flamboyant Delhi opener was forthright in his views about Indian cricket and came up with an idea that BCCI would do well to heed.
When asked about his choice for the chief selector’s position, Sehwag felt that former India captain and leg-spinner Anil Kumble will be the ideal candidate for the job, provided the BCCI is prepared to raise the remuneration currently offered to selectors.
Current chairman of selectors MSK Prasad has taken plenty of flak in the recent times due to his lack of international experience, which critics say compromises his authority in front of the Indian skipper Virat Kohli.
Kumble has the experience of 132 Tests and 271 ODIs behind him and has been associated with Team India as coach as well after retirement.
“I think Anil Kumble could be the right candidate for the chairman of selectors post. He is someone who has interacted with Sachin (Tendulkar), Sourav (Ganguly) and Rahul (Dravid) as a player and with current crop of youngsters as a coach,” Sehwag told the media at a promotional event in New Delhi on Wednesday (August 21).
The former India opener recalled Kumble’s words when he was trying to make a comeback into the side in Australia.
“When I made a comeback (Australia series 2007-08), captain Kumble came to my room and said you will not be dropped for the next two series. That’s the kind of confidence a player needs,” Sehwag recalled.
The biggest hurdle for Kumble to becoming a national selector will probably be the remuneration with the chairman of selectors getting Rs 1 crore per annum as of now. However, selectors are not allowed to appear as TV commentators, write newspaper columns or coach sides due to BCCI’s stringent ‘conflict of interest’ rules in the new constitution.
“BCCI needs to raise bar as far as pay is concerned. Then a lot of players will be interested. I write columns, appear on TV and being selector will mean a lot of restrictions. I don’t know whether I would like so many restrictions,” the 40-year-old said.
Sehwag, who has been coach of Kings XI Punjab in the recent past, had applied for the position of Indian head coach back in 2017 when Ravi Shastri was picked for the first time. However, Sehwag didn’t apply this time around.
“In 2017, the BCCI secretary and (late) Dr MV Sridhar (GM Cricket Operations) asked me to apply so I applied. This time no one asked me, so I didn’t apply. I don’t know what’s going to be the situation in two years’ time, maybe I’ll be the BCCI president by then!" Sehwag exclaimed.
Sehwag, who played 104 Tests and 251 ODIs for India, was also critical of Indian team’s decision to send wicketkeeper batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni at No. 7 in the 2019 World Cup semifinal loss to New Zealand.
“Players like Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant can play big shots towards the end of the innings and can chase down totals even when 8 runs per over are needed. However, it was not right to expose them when the ball was moving around. Dhoni was much better suited with experience of over 300 ODIs behind him,” Sehwag said about the India team management’s decision.
On his thoughts on India’s playing XI for the first Test against West Indies beginning in Antigua on Thursday, Sehwag said, “Ajinkya Rahane has been batting at No 4 (No 5) so if it is a case of five bowlers then he should play. Rohit Sharma comes in only if you go with four bowlers."
Sehwag also said that Indian cricketers’ main objection to being tested by NADA was filing the ‘whereabouts’ regularly and updating it.
“I have appeared for many dope tests, in domestic and international cricket. The problem was with whereabouts that I can’t pinpoint where I will be at a specific hour of the day on a specific date. I may mention it initially and then I might have a change in plan. I don’t think many of the current players also support this as well, they haven’t spoken out about it,” he added.