I am writing this letter with a heavy heart as I hold you in high esteem. However, the current situation vis-a-vis my position as the Chairman of selection committee has compelled me to write this letter to you.
I am really appalled at the way the BCCI has treated its selectors of late. The recent gag order issued by the BCCI wherein a lot of restrictions on freedom of speech or even movement have been imposed on the selectors, which I feel is rather unfortunate. It has not only humiliated us for doing selfless service to Indian cricket but also shown us in a very poor light.
Besides this one issue, there are several issues like only one selector should be present to watch international match or refraining selectors from interacting with the media, which I feel are quite absurd.
Another issue is that the BCCI secretary, Mr Niranjan Shah, even after finalising the dates for the selection of the teams, changes them as per his whims and fancies and convenience, not bothering to even check with us.
He has done this on several occasions and as a result I have to cancel many important commitments. The recent fiasco of shifting the selection committee meeting from Kolkata which was finalised two weeks in advance in consultation with other selectors, to Bangalore on 5th December shows his highhandedness in handling BCCI's important matters. He has done it several times in the past. This time, however, he said that the selectors must watch all the four days of the Ranji Trophy matches.
Sir, let me put it on record that Mr Shah on several occasions have preponed/postponed meetings as he pleased. For example, we selected the team for the recently concluded India-Australia one-dayers even before the final match of the Challengers Trophy was played. He was also forcing us to select the captain of the ongoing Pakistan series at Mohali at 6 pm as he had to catch the flight when the day/night match was half way through. We refused and Mr Shah left the ground in a huff and Mr Pandove had to convene the meeting later. There are several such occasions which I cannot mention here.
Sir, as you know that we are doing an honorary job as selectors. Though the selectors all over the world are professionals, we in India have never asked for any monetary benefits as selectors. However, it is just not acceptable to me if the BCCI stops me from earning my livelihood. I have been writing on India's international matches for the last 15 years and I have continued to do so even after I had become a selector for one full year. Then why this sudden gag order?
Despite promising you and your colleagues at the BCCI that I won't be writing on individual performances but I would be writing my overall view of the match, the BCCI has not only refused the permission but also refused the financial loss I would incur.
Sir, during our recent meeting at Kolkata on 1st December I was taken a back when you mentioned that I do not give opportunity to other selectors to watch the international matches. On my return to Mumbai, I spoke to Sanjay Jagdale, Ranjib Biswal and Raju and they had categorically denied having ever said a word about it. In fact in our last selection committee meeting it was mutually decided that I would be watching the first two Test matches and it's on the BCCI's record.
Sir, as you are aware that I have played in almost 250 international matches and as such I do not have to deprive anybody least of all my colleagues on selection panel to go and watch a Test or an ODI.
Sir, I hope you are aware that I have watched a lot under-15, 17 & 19 matches with great passion and success even at the remote places in India as the Chairman of TRDOs for almost three years which nobody else has done so far.
Since my retirement from Test cricket I have been successfully running cricket academies in Mumbai free of cost and my academies have produced cricketers like Yuvraj, Agarkar and Ramesh Powar besides many first class cricketers for Mumbai.
I was aghast when Mr Shashank Monahar told me over the telephone yesterday that Mr Bindra is the man behind all these happenings against the selectors. I think Mr Bindra is not only a responsible official of the BCCI but also a former President of the BCCI.
Sir, I would be glad to continue as the Chairman of selection committee but ONLY IF the restrictions imposed on me are revoked unconditionally and I am compensated for agreeing to not to write the columns in the Newspapers before I attend the next selection committee meeting at Bangalore 5th December.
With Warm Regards