ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: The stultifying nepotism and favouritism in Indian cricket is as old as Chamundi hills. But more indication that players heading the sport is not necessarily a panacea comes in the selection of the Indian squad for the Emerging Players tournament to be held in Australia.
The good news is that at least four Karnataka cricketers (media pacers R. Vinay Kumar and Sreenath Arvind, wicketkeeper C. Gautam, and batsman Manish Pandey) have made the cut.
The bad news is Srikkanth Anirudha.
Anirudha, the son of the former India opener and current chairman of the selection committee of the BCCI, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, has sneaked in, no prizes for guessing how, and even Yahoo’s cricket columnist Venkat Ananth (see Twitter graphic, above) is scratching his head in disbelief.
After a first-class debut in the 2003-04 season, the horizontally challenged chip of the old block, averages less than 30, is not even a member of the Tamil Nadu Ranji trophy team, and had scores of 3, 7,9, 0, 64, and 0 in season four of the Indian Premier League (IPL)—and for that he gets a free plane ride to Australia?
Followers of Karnataka cricket are, of course, familiar with the trend.
The joke is the KSCA selection committee has to only fill nine players because the other two are reserved for Udit Patel and Stuart Binny, the club-class sons of Brijesh Patel and Roger Binny, who would find it difficult to get into a good first division team.
And of course, the belief that cricket flows in the blood is a national pandemic: Sunil Gavaskar spent the better part of 2000s trying to get his son Rohan Gavaskar in; Mohammed Azharuddin found a backdoor for his son in the Kolkata Knightriders, etcetera.
But to see Srikkanth, whose conflict of interest in cricket matches if not rivals Brijesh Patel’s, upto the old tricks is not merely shocking but disgusting. Even simple followers of cricket on Cricinfo can see through the game of empire-building cricketers, but the selection committee cannot.
And a greater pity is that such favouritism will barely find space in tomorrow’s sports pages. Certainly, I am willing to wager, not in The Hindu. And no prizes for guessing why either.
External reading: How Udit Patel edged out Dharmichand