Who is beating around the bush?
If we consider Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hasan Papon's words, it is his critics who are beating around the bush regarding the selection system of the national teams. The BCB boss, hot under his collar, said on Monday that he has not changed the selection system that has been in practice ever since he took over the presidency almost four years ago.
“I have only institutionalised a system that has been operating during my tenure,” the president said while defending the newly designed 'two-tier' selection system that the board approved on Sunday. The complex selection model, which can be best described as unique, features three selectors headed by a chief. The three-man selection committee will formulate a team before placing it to a six-member committee that includes the coach, manager and BCB's cricket operations committee chairman as convener apart from the three selectors. The six will then burn the midnight candle before agreeing to a final selection for the approval of the board president.
And according to the board president this system actually has been working in almost every selection of the national team for the last four years when Papon had to a play a major role.
“Ask him [chief selector Faruque Ahmed] if there was a single instance when the team that he submitted wasn't changed. Ask him of the number of times when I had to sit with them before a series to confirm a team,” said Papon acidly while talking to reporters at the BKSP in Savar.
If we take the president's word then the three-man selection committee headed by Faruque Ahmed was not only incapable of delivering what they were paid to do but also functionally flawed and deserved to be dissolved long before. We agree with the president that it's a shame for the functional chief of a cricket board to be involved in the selection of the team, and that too on a regular basis.
But the next statement from the president is perplexing.
“We have always been following this process and also we have been getting results. So why should I move away from it? There is absolutely nothing new here,” the president added, arguing that the same system would be in place.
This is where we beg to differ. If the three-man selection committee unofficially turned into a seven-member panel (including the president) then it's a flaw that made the whole system an abjuratory one.
The president said that the coach is an integral part in the selection of the team and the manager is essential to speak for the captain and vice-captain. He said the function of cricket operations chairman in the selection committee is more like an ex-officio's role than any serious concern.
“The coach will tell the selectors his requirement before a series. He will tell whether he needs more fast bowlers or spinners. How can the coach select the players? He doesn't even know them. He will only provide the strategy. The manager on the other hand will raise the voice of the cricketers. Sujon [Khaled Mahmud, manager of the national team] always came to me and conveyed what the captain wanted. We did not include the captain in the selection panel because we have different captains for different formats,” was how Papon described the roles of other members in the new panel.
It is universally acknowledged that the selectors have that minimum understanding of the game and their role. There is no selection committee in world sport that is unaware of what type of players they need for a series or a particular tournament. It is also very much embedded in the selection system that the selectors take the necessary input from the coach and captain before selecting a team. The selectors essentially work in harmony with the coach and captain. Debate or disagreement is the beauty of a most pro-active selection committee.
And we have little doubt about the ability of the Faruque Ahmed-led selection committee. They may have made mistakes along the way but their selections had never been bracketed in nepotism. The latest act, according to many, will substantially curb the independence of the selection committee and will lead to divided loyalty with more men poking their nose. Papon may feel that the new system will at least spare him from playing the additional role of selector, but only time will tell if he would be getting more involved in that addictive system.