Dark horse Patil wins in high-stakes race to be cricket selector

Sandip

WITH the Kris Srikkanth-led selection committee having come under recurrent flak, there was much anticipation around the announcement of their successors. Besides, this was to be the first selection committee to be picked since the selectors' job stopped being honorary.

Members of the outgoing panel had been paid Rs 40 lakh annually; incoming selectors will get Rs 60 lakh. The stakes were high, and unsurprisingly, close to 20 candidates from the five zones threw their hats in the ring before the annual general meeting of the board on Thursday.

In the end, the BCCI named a completely revamped selection panel that included several surprises — bringing in Sandeep Patil as chairman and former India wicket-keeper Saba Karim as East Zone representative, and dropping Mohinder Amarnath.

Neither Patil nor Karim had been part of the original list of aspirants, and Amarnath was widely seen as Srikkanth's heir apparent.

Former UP left-arm spinner Rajinder Singh Hans from Central Zone, former India opener Vikram Rathour (North) and 1983 World Cup winning all-rounder Roger Binny (South) make up the rest of the selection committee.

Binny's selection was never in doubt — no one was expected to challenge the choice of the BCCI president — but uncertainty about the rest prevailed until the morning of the AGM. Behind-the-scenes moves had continued late into the previous night, with some meetings extending up to 2 am, BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla said.

Across the country, candidates spent a sleepless night, making anxious calls to 'sources' in the board and media. A Central Zone candidate received a message in the wee hours from outgoing selector Narendra Hirwani, telling him he had 'made' it — sending the candidate into rapturous excitement.

Besides the significant pay packet, a national selector gets overnight publicity, a chance to travel the world, and many perks (Srikkanth & Co got $ 300 as daily travel allowance on tours). Unfortunately, for this hopeful however, he did not ultimately make it.

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