New Delhi: Virendra Sehwag is plain-spoken and direct. If his opinion is anything to go by, Anil Kumble should be the chairman of selectors for sharing a close proximity with senior cricketers and the confidence he instills among the youngsters.
The position is currently held by former wicket-keeper-batsman MSK Prasad. Prasad-led committee has been accused of being spineless and not having the stature to take on the team management. The members’ own playing experience has also come under scrutiny.
“I think Anil Kumble could be the right candidate for the chairman of selectors post. He captained us in the Test matches and was coach of Indian team as well. Now is the perfect time for him to become the chairman of selectors. He can take the right calls. He understands everybody. He has interacted with Sachin (Tendulkar), Sourav (Ganguly) and Rahul (Dravid). He has communicated with youngsters and understand their problems,” Sehwag said during the launch of the app ‘The Selector’.
Sehwag recalled how Kumble boosted his confidence when he was going through a form slump during Australia series in 2007-08.
“I remember when Anil became the captain, he came to my room…I was sitting with my other teammate and he (Kumble) asked me to play the way I like. He assured me that I will not be dropped for the next two series. That’s the kind of confidence he gave us,” the former batsman said.
However, Sehwag feels that BCCI needs to up the income, which is currently Rs 1 crore per annum, if they are to hire someone of Kumble’s repute.
“BCCI needs to raise the pay. Then players might take interest,” the Nawab of Najafgarh said.
Asked if he would be interested to take up the role of a selector, he said, “There is lot of restrictions when you become a selector. I do commentary, write columns, appear as an expert on TV channels which I will not be able to do. Although, I am still available for advice if selectors ask for it.”
Sehwag who had applied for Indian cricket team’s coach in 2017 and lost to Ravi Shastri revealed why he stayed out of the race this time around.
“I was told the last time (2017) to apply for the position of coach by BCCI secretary and (late) Dr MV Sridhar (GM Cricket Operations) so I applied. This time no one asked me, so I didn’t apply,” he said.
On being asked if he would reconsider his decision when Shastri’s term ends in 2021, he quipped, “2021 is very far away. Who knows I might even become the president of the cricket board.”
Speaking on doping tests after BCCI recently came under the ambit of National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), Sehwag highlighted the problem Indian players might face.
He said, “I have appeared for many dope tests. Even in domestic cricket when I was out of the team, during IPL. The problem with whereabouts is 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.”
The number four conundrum has been a long-standing bone of contention for the team management and has affected the Test team as well with Ajinkya Rahane’s form in wane and Rohit Sharma in the flanks. But Sehwag feels Rahane is the right person for the job and it’s pointless to tinker with that position.
“I don’t see any problem with number four in Test matches because Ajinkya (Rahane) has been playing for a long time. If they are going with four bowlers, then Rohit (Sharma) can play. If they go with five, Rohit sits out. That’s the call they have to take.”
Although, Rahane played a crucial knock of 81 runs and saved India’s blushes after top order collapse in the opening day of the first Test.
Talking about World Cup semi-finals against New Zealand where many felt that Dhoni should have been promoted up the order, he said, “If Dhoni would have batted up the order, situation might have been different. We might even have won the game. Players like Hardik Pandya, who can hit the ball hard, should have come in at number seven and he could have chased eight or nine runs in an over rather than exposing them to conditions where ball was moving.
“Dhoni is an experienced campaigner. He could have soaked that pressure early on in the innings and take the game to the last ball.”
Sehwag was happy with BCCI ombudsman’s decision to reduce Sreesanth’s life ban for alleged spot-fixing to seven years.
“He has to play domestic cricket and perform. Then he could make it to the Indian team. It’s good that his ban has been reduced to seven years. I am very happy for him. Hopefully, he will play some form of cricket. If not international, maybe club cricket,” he said.
On the same issue when someone queried about how Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Amir was fast-tracked into the national side, the Multan of Sultan laughed off and said, “Anything can happen in Pakistan. It’s not possible in India.”
The topic then digressed towards The Ashes where Steve Smith was forced off with a concussion after being hit by Jofra Archer’s bouncer, reminding many of the tragic death of Australian batsman Phil Hughes.
Sehwag disagreed with the suggestions of a neck guard. “Why do you need to show your neck to the bowler? You have a bat and you are wearing a helmet. In my entire career, I never used chest pads,” Sehwag said.