In what could be music to the ears of Sourav Ganguly and Zaheer Khan, newly-appointed national senior selection committee chairman Dilip Vengsarkar declared that the door is not shut on anyone playing domestic cricket and seeking a comeback to the Indian squad.
"The door is not shut on anyone playing domestic cricket," said the former India skipper and veteran of 116 Tests and 129 ODIs, a day after being appointed to one of the most difficult posts in Indian cricket, at the Board of Control for Cricket in India's Annual General Meeting in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Former captain Sourav Ganguly hasn't been considered by the selectors since returning from Pakistan after playing in the three-Test series there, while Zaheer is also out of favour after that trip to India's western neighbour early this year.
The Rajapur (Ratnagiri district)-born Vengsarkar, who led India in 10 Tests in the late 1980s and was a member of the 1983 World Cup-winning team, said he would try and ensure that there is no zonal bias whenever the new five-member committee meets to select a team.
"I will try and see that there's no question of any zonal bias in selecting a player. It (selection) will be purely based on form and merit of the players," he said.
Asked how he would be able to stop this much-criticised scourge of Indian cricket, Vengsarkar replied, "It's up to each individual (selector). There's no insurance against this happening, but this is what I have been doing at the junior level," said the 50-year-old former middle-order batsman, pointing to his stint as head of the now disbanded Talent Research Development Wing of the BCCI.
Asked about the future course the committee plans to adopt, Vengsarkar, who scored three Test hundreds on the trot at Lord's, said the Indian team has a number of engagements where the players' form can be gauged ahead of next year's World Cup.
"The Champions Trophy is coming up soon followed by India's tour of South Africa. Then there are the two bilateral series against the West Indies and Sri Lanka at home in January-February, he said.
His immediate plans are to watch the October 1-4 N K P Salve Challenger Series in Chennai, where he hopes to interact with India skipper Rahul Dravid, who will be leading the 'India Blues' team.