Despite having not yet appointed a Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), the BCCI has put out an advertisement to fill positions in the national selection panels including the men’s committee where two members were on extension. On Sunday, the BCCI advertised to fill up the following positions: two slots on the senior men’s selection committee, all five in the senior women’s selection committee, and two on the junior men’s selection panel. Applicants need to apply by January 24.
All applicants need to have retired from the game at least five years ago. Candidates applying for the senior men’s positions should have played a minimum of seven Test matches, or 30 first-class matches, or 10 ODIs and 20 first-class matches. Applicants for the senior women’s positions should have played for the India women team, while the junior men’s candidates should have played a minimum of 25 first-class matches.
Out of the five members on the current men’s selection committee, former India and Andhra wicketkeeper MSK Prasad and former India and Rajasthan batsman Gagan Khoda have been on an extension, having finished their original four-year tenures in November 2019. Both Prasad and Khoda were originally appointed in 2015, as part of the previous selection panel led by former India batsman Sandeep Patil.
Prasad’s panel picked its final squad on January 12 for India’s tour of New Zealand. The selectors were originally scheduled to announce three squads for the tour, which comprises five T20Is, three ODIs and two Tests. However, the BCCI released only the T20I squad, without providing any information on when the ODI and Test squads would be announced.
It remains unclear whether Prasad’s panel will convene one last time to pick those two squads. The ODI series starts on February 5 while the Tests will commence on February 21.
In 2016, the BCCI for the first time picked selectors based on interviews, discarding the long-standing process of picking members from each of the five zones. Joining Prasad and Khoda were three new members – former India offspinner Sarandeep Singh, former India and Bengal batsman Devang Gandhi and former Mumbai captain Jatin Paranjpe. Prasad, being the most experienced, was appointed chairman of selectors.
A productive tenure
If this is the end of the journey for Prasad’s panel, they have plenty to feel proud of. The biggest thing Prasad has stressed in his interactions with the media has been the desire of his panel to solidify India’s bench strength. About three dozen debuts have been taken place across the three formats, with the selectors focused on creating back-ups for every position.
During this panel’s tenure, India reached the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy, won a historic Test series in Australia, solidified their position as the world’s No. 1 Test team, and made the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup. The most contentious call Prasad’s panel had to make concerned the former India captain MS Dhoni, whose wavering batting form raised questions over his place in the limited-overs teams. The selectors kept faith in Dhoni until the 2019 World Cup, but he hasn’t played since the end of the tournament, with Prasad remarking that the selectors had “moved on”. Dhoni’s name was missing from the list of BCCI-contracted players released on Thursday, but the questions over his future haven’t yet been decisively answered, even as Prasad moves on himself.
Uncertainty hangs over CAC situation
Even though the BCCI has issued a call for applicants, it is not clear who exactly will conduct the interviews to pick the new selectors. Even as it has retained the eligibility criteria as mentioned in the constitution that were formed as per the RM Lodha Committee’s recommendations, the board still needs to appoint the CAC, which has been tasked specifically with picking the men’s selection panel. Since last November there has been no CAC, after all three members of the previous panel stepped down in the wake of conflict-of-interest charges filed against them.
The BCCI, which elected a new administration last October led by former India captain Sourav Ganguly, has found itself in a spot trying to find new members for the CAC. Ganguly said appointing a new CAC would be one of the first tasks of his administration, but he has admitted that the existing conflict-of-interest rules have proved to be an obstacle, with former players not keen to serve on the committeee. Nonetheless, three former India players – Madan Lal, Gautam Gambhir and Sulakshana Naik – had recently given the BCCI their nod for joining the CAC.
The BCCI, however, has not yet made the news public, mainly because it is still waiting for the Supreme Court to respond to its plea concerning various amendments to the board’s constitution including relaxing the conflict norms. The court has not yet fixed a hearing date, leaving the BCCI restless.
Scott Borthwick re-joins Durham after Surrey agree early contract release
Durham have announced that Scott Borthwick will return to the club on a long-term deal next season after four years at Surrey.
Borthwick, who left Durham as a legspinning allrounder but has largely been used as a specialist top-order batsman at The Oval, was among a number of players to leave Chester-le-Street following the club’s demotion as part of an ECB bail-out at the end of the 2016 season.
Borthwick had one year left to run on his Surrey contract, but has been released early from his deal. His time at the club brought mixed returns: he was a County Championship regular throughout, and part of the title-winning side in 2018, but struggled to post the sort of numbers that had put him on England’s Test radar. Appearances in white-ball cricket were sporadic, despite him taking 18 Blast wickets in his final season at Durham.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Surrey, and I’d like to say a big thank you to all of the players, staff and members who supported me during my time there,” Borthwick said. “Durham is really close to my heart, it is a club which I have come through the ranks from Under-9s right through to the academy, so to get the opportunity and chance to represent Durham again was something which really excited me, and I can’t wait.
“Some of my proudest moments as a cricketer are winning games for Durham and I am desperate to do that again. I know I am 30 now but I still feel young at heart, but I am fit and still feel like my cricket has lots to offer and have some of the best years ahead of me, with both bat and ball. So now is a really good time to come back.”
Marcus North, Durham’s director of cricket, said that the signing of Borthwick “shows our intent to take this club forward”.
“Scott brings with him a wealth of experience across all three formats and provides us with options at the top of the batting order and as a spinner, which are both areas we need to strengthen,” North said.
“Having previously played for the club he knows what it means to be a Durham player and will fit straight into the dressing room. It is great to see another one of our homegrown players return as we continue to build towards a big summer for the club in 2021.”
SASCOC refers Cricket South Africa investigation to sports ministry
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) has referred Cricket South Africa (CSA) to the country’s sports ministry, citing a lack of co-operation from CSA and absence of resources on its own part to deal with the organisation.
Earlier this month, SASCOC, the governing body under which all sporting federations in South Africa operate, instructed CSA’s board and executive to stand down in order for SASCOC to launch an investigation into CSA’s administrative and financial affairs. SASCOC also asked for full access to CSA’s recently-completed forensic audit, which it used to fire former CEO Thabang Moroe. CSA refused on both counts.
In a letter to sports minister Nathi Mthethwa, SASCOC said it had met “serious resistance,” from CSA over the report and that CSA has made it “abundantly clear,” it will “not readily cooperate with SASCOC.” As a result, SASCOC has asked the minister to either provide it with the resources to enter into litigation (SASCOC can compel CSA to comply with it by law) against CSA or to “take whatever action in your powers you deem necessary to restore the dignity of the game of cricket in this country.”
SASCOC’s letter, dated September 25, 2020, implied that the impasse between itself and CSA is ongoing. On September 17, CSA confirmed it would only allow SASCOC board members to view its forensic report if they signed a non-disclosure agreement. CSA Board Members who have seen the report also had to agree to keep its confidentiality but SASCOC want the report to be made public. CSA said it was keeping the report under wraps, under legal advice, to ensure any further action it may take against existing staff or board members is not compromised. SASCOC has indicated that some board members and executive “must have been implication in the forensic report,” and “remain in office and refuse to step aside pending finalisation of the investigations to be carried out by the independent task team.”
The SASCOC task team was due to appointed earlier this month but that has not happened yet. SASCOC has also declined further meetings with CSA, insisting that it will only be willing to engage in discussion once it has access to the full report. With the deadlock in place, cash-strapped SASCOC have had no choice but to ask the minister to intervene.
The minister’s actions, if any, could attract the attention of the ICC, whose constitution forbids government interference in member bodies. SASCOC has written to the ICC confirming its actions do not constitute a government intervention, because it operates as an independent body, but it’s appeal to the sports minister crosses that line. SASCOC has made it clear that the only reason it is asking for the minister’s assistance is because it does not have the resources to act but that if provided with such it “will gladly take all appropriate steps to intervene in its (CSA’s) affairs.” If not, SASCOC wishes the minister “with your efforts in dealing with very serious issues plaguing CSA.”
Meanwhile, CSA remain without a permanent CEO after firing Moroe last month and without an elected president after Chris Nenzani stepped down three weeks before the AGM, which was postponed. No date has been set for a rescheduled AGM and no fixtures for the upcoming season have been released, with the only confirmation around matches that the Mzansi Super League, the country’s flagship T20 tournament, will be postponed.
Pakistan to tour New Zealand for two Tests and three T20Is in December
The schedule for Pakistan’s second overseas tour since the Covid-19 pandemic has been finalised, with their visit to New Zealand over Christmas set to go ahead with virtually no deviation from the original FTP. The two teams will play three T20Is and two Tests from December 18 to January 7, with each international played at a different venue. In accordance with Covid-19 protocols mandated by the New Zealand government, the Pakistan squad will enter a two-week quarantine period in Lincoln once they reach New Zealand in the last week of November.
While New Zealand Cricket’s chief executive David White had already confirmed both Pakistan and West Indies would tour the country as previously planned, the schedule for the Pakistan series is only now out. Auckland, Hamilton and Napier will host the three T20Is to be played on December 18, 20 and 22, while Mount Maungunui hosts the Boxing Day Test. The Hagley Oval in Christchurch will be the venue for the second Test, which begins on January 3rd.
“It’s always a pleasure to host the Pakistan cricket team in New Zealand and I know there will be a lot of interest in the Test and T20 series,” NZC chief executive, David White, said. “Pakistan touring sides have been coming here since 1965 and many New Zealanders have grown up watching the likes of Hanif Mohammad, Majid Khan, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and of course, the great Imran Khan in action. I’m sure the squads coming out here this summer will be similarly steeped in talent and class and will continue the great legacy that is Pakistan cricket.”
“New Zealand boast some outstanding cricket facilities with supportive and knowledgeable crowds,” PCB director international cricket, Zakir Khan said. “Pakistan have always enjoyed touring New Zealand and have performed well there, and we look forward to similar performances from our side on this tour.”
“New Zealand series will be our penultimate series in the ICC World Test Championship with the last series against South Africa at home following this tour. We remain optimistic and committed to finishing on a high in the Championship as it is our endeavour to become one of the top-performing Test playing nations.”
The relatively low rate of Covid-19 transmission in New Zealand means the bio-secure bubble need not be maintained following the expiry of the quarantine period. Aside from the largest city, Auckland, the entire nation is operating under what are known as Level 1 conditions, which effectively mean no restrictions on movement besides border control. At one point, the nation went over 100 days without an officially recorded positive Covid-19 case, and a second wave that saw a few hundred further cases has been all but extinguished. By contrast, when the Pakistan side toured England for three Tests and three T20Is over the summer, the bio-secure bubble was strictly maintained throughout the tour.
A press release from the PCB revealed the Pakistan Shaheens, effectively the “A” team, would also travel to New Zealand, with details on their departure to be announced in due course.
Pakistan were last in New Zealand for a limited-overs tour in 2018, with the hosts sweeping the ODI series 5-0, while Pakistan triumphed in the T20I leg 2-1 to rise to the No. 1 ranking in that format. The last time the two sides played Test cricket in New Zealand was in 2016, with New Zealand winning both Test matches.
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