Abey Kuruvilla is appalled by the action of many member clubs of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) to censure the association’s senior selection committee and remove it at a special general body meeting to be held on February 21. A constitutional provision allows individual members to convene an SGM at their own expense. The MCA doesn’t have an elected body now and is run by the CEO, C.S. Naik. The Parsee Gymkhana has taken the lead to convening the SGM, in particular by its vice-president and secretary, Khodadad S. Yazdegardi.
A motion moved by the gymkhana seeks to remove the Ranji Trophy and Under-23 selection committees because (1) they did not watch club matches (2) the selection of four teams for the Madhav Mantri under-23 tournament last May was done by the coaches and not the selectors and (3) players who performed exceedingly well in the 2017-18 season were neglected and not selected in the 2018-19 probables list.’’
The Parsee Gymkhana, Worli Sports Club and Crown CC have contended that they have moved the resolution “in view of the several irregularities in selection of players.”
The Ranji Trophy and Under-23 selection committee consists of Ajit Agarkar (chairman), Nilesh Kulkarni, Sunil More and Ravi Thaker.
An upset Kuruvilla told Sportstar: “I think it’s an absolutely wrong precedent. Mumbai failed this season in the Ranji Trophy; this happens in cricket. That doesn’t mean that you have to remove the selectors. If there is an issue, there is the Cricket Improvements Committee (CIC) which has appointed the selection committees and the coaching staff. So the issues and grievances have to be addressed to the CIC and it will do the needful. For the clubs to remove the selection committee and the players, who have performed with distinction for Mumbai, is a wrong precedent. This should not happen at all. The players, who are in the selection committee, have fought hard for Mumbai and won Ranji Trophy titles. This can happen in the future; thirty or 40 clubs just can get together and move a resolution to remove the selection committee. ’’
Abey Kuruvilla was a former BCCI under-19 selector. – p. k. ajith kumar
A keen observer of Mumbai and Indian cricket, Kuruvilla further said: “You cannot question the integrity of the selection committee. I know them personally very well. They will never show any bias against a player. In selection committee meetings, some players may not be picked, [but] that’s the point of view of the selectors, who will always pick the best combination. The selectors consult the coach and the captain. They have done so well for Mumbai and India. Nilesh has carried injuries and still played for Mumbai when many others would have sat out. He has bowled with back injuries and bowled well also. The selectors are honest people. They are doing it as a service to Mumbai cricket.’’
Citing an example, Kuruvilla, who is closely associated with the DY Patil Sports Academy, said: “When I was the BCCI under-19 selector and also chairman, few players missed selection, like Axar Patel and Hardik Pandya. Axar did not play for India under-19, we thought Mumbai’s Harmeet Singh and Delhi’s Vivek Mishra were better. It did not mean that Axar was not a good cricketer. He played for India. Same with Hardik Pandya.’’
Kuruvilla feels that the clubs should withdraw the notice for the SGM to remove the selectors. “Problems can always be rectified and in this case, the CIC has the authority to do it. The CIC is appointed by the managing committee of the MCA. The managing committee is elected by the MCA members. The Clubs cannot say that Mumbai did not qualify for the Ranji Trophy knock out; it happens. There are other teams which are competing. What is the guarantee that two or three players would have changed the fortunes of the Mumbai team? You just cannot blame the selectors. There were issues with injuries to the fast bowlers. The same team won the Vijay Hazare Trophy.’’