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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Interview > Chandu Borde

January 20, 2003

Former Test cricketer Chandrakant Gulabrao Borde, better known as Chandu Borde, finished his second stint as national selector last September. Borde's two years as chairman of the 'five wise men' of Indian cricket saw some landmark events and decisions. Sachin Tendulkar stepped down as skipper in the early part of 2000, to be replaced by Sourav Ganguly; this was followed by the appointment of India's first foreign coach John Wright.

Borde can be proud that it was his selection committee that boldly blooded young players who injected much needed self-belief in the team. None of the youngsters carried the burden of previous failures as they crashed records chasing huge totals.

But there have been disappointments too.

In a frank interview with rediff.com, Borde spoke of his stint as selector and expressed his desire to travel with the Indian team for the World Cup as manager. Excerpts:

How do you see the manager and coach co-existing in a team?

The manager plays a very important part in the team. I know coach John Wright very well. With Wright and myself in sync with each other over the last two years, we can mould the boys and help them sort out their batting problems. I have been manager of the team for the 1989 tour of Pakistan [Sachin Tendulkar's debut series] and single-handedly managed the boys very well there. During the tour, there was a lot of tension between the two sides, but I still managed to return without any controversies. Pakistan captain Imran Khan said in Lahore that the 0-0 draw in the four Tests was a victory for India who played the Pakistani bowlers very well.

I have played enough Test cricket to guide and help the boys technically and give them the advantage of my experience.

Let me also make it clear that I am not vying for the manager's job; I have said that if offered I will gladly accept the honour.

You said that as manager you helped some batsmen with their technical problems.

I remember Dilip Vengsarkar told me that Sanjay Manjrekar was having some problems while batting; he was consistently getting hit on the pads to the incoming deliveries. I watched him for some time in the nets and then asked him to play more towards mid-on rather than mid-wicket. He got a 200 in that 1989 series against Pakistan. I helped Tendulkar also in the nets after he was having problems playing the spinners. I get along very well with the boys.

I have enjoyed being selector twice, but I enjoyed my term as manager as I could give more to the game and the players.

I had also taken an under-19 team to Sri Lanka and 8-9 boys played for India from that side; Ravi Shastri, Chetan Sharma, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Kiran More, Maninder Singh and Laxman Sivaramakrishnan.

The New Zealand chairman of selectors, Sir Richard Hadlee, always calls a player when he is dropped and explains the reason for his exclusion. Why don't Indian selectors do the same? How difficult can it be?

It is not in our culture. It is a very difficult position for the selector. I have played enough to command the respect of the players. For example, I called Ajit Agarkar last year and asked him to practise harder for the upcoming tour if he wanted to keep his place in the side. I spoke to Ganguly also when he was in terrible form and advised him about his technique. Azharuddin always asked for my advice. I regularly visited the nets when he was captain.

From left: Madan Lal, Ashok Malhotra, Chandu Borde and Sanjay Jagdale

But some other selectors cannot push the players too much. There is a complex amongst them because the current cricketers have played so many matches. Not long ago a player had made a statement questioning how many matches a particular selector had played, to offer his advice.

Some selectors have reservations about talking to the players. It gets worse when the selector has not played any international cricket. That is why I strongly believe that any selector should have played a minimum of 20 Tests to qualify. The selector should have the required stature to command the respect of the players.

Your major failure as selector in the second stint was the manner in which Javagal Srinath's career was handled. He announced his semi-retirement from the game, but when Brijesh Patel replaced you as chairman of the selectors, Srinath was back in the side.

I don't think Srinath's career was badly handled. He told us that he wanted to opt out of one-dayers to pace his career. We were willing to listen to him and understand his problem. I think Srinath is a great fast bowler for India. He opted out of the England Test series voluntarily. The captain [Sourav Ganguly] tried very hard to convince him to come back into the team. He was very disturbed that Srinath refused to join the team in England. But it was his personal decision.

You seem to be a very democratic selector. Srinath opts out of one-dayers and you let him; Sachin wants to step down as captain [during South Africa's tour of India in 2000] and you accept his resignation.

It is important to respect your players' views. And let me clear one thing: when Tendulkar offered to step down, I persuaded him a lot. But he said that he was not enjoying the game. We offered the captaincy to him again before the Zimbabwe Test series in India in 2002, but he declined the offer.

How do you rate Sachin Tendulkar as a captain?

Sachin is a very good captain. He is a thinker of the game; a very practical captain. He knows how to build the pressure on the opposition with his moves. Even Azhar was a very good captain. He was very calm and got along well with the boys. They respected him a lot.

Who did you consider for the captaincy after Tendulkar stepped down?

We considered Azharuddin for the captaincy, but he was just returning to the side after a long time. Sourav Ganguly was the unanimous choice.

After Tendulkar refused the captaincy the second time early last year, who were your other choices?

We thought of Rahul Dravid, but he suffered a shoulder problem and opted out of the series. Then we thought of Kumble and he was injured too. Then we thought of V V S Laxman -- who, according to me, is a very good student of the game.

VVS Laxman?

I have seen him captaining in the Challenger Series and was impressed. He studies the game very well. I like the way he cajoles his bowlers, interacts with them, as much as required. He does not get ruffled. I think he is a very good guy and has a lot of leadership qualities.

But that is not to take away from Ganguly's captaincy. His record has proved that he is a superb captain. And winning is all that matters in cricket.

And VVS Laxman is not even in the squad for the World Cup?

I think it is very unfortunate that Laxman did not make it to the squad. I know that Laxman's fielding is below par, as is his running between the wickets, but in the 15 days before the World Cup I am sure he could have worked harder and made up for them.

But let us build up Dinesh Mongia's confidence, now that he is in the team. I think with his exaggerated back lift, the rising delivery will be a problem for him in South Africa.

Laxman is pure class. For the first time I saw the current Australian team hapless and confused when Laxman got going against them in Kolkata in 2001. They just put their hands up and surrendered. His on-drives against the turn off Shane Warne were the finest I have seen in a long time.

Some former cricketers suggested that Sourav Ganguly should have taken some time off mid-way through the New Zealand series. Do you agree?

I think Ganguly needs to think about the team. It should have been a voluntary decision for him to go back to the nets and worked his batting out. It is his decision; the selectors can't ask him to do that. It does not work like that in India.

What do you think is the problem with Ganguly?

Sourav GangulyI think his initial movement is incorrect. His left leg goes to the leg-side when it should be on middle or off-stump. You can get away with that on Indian wickets, but overseas you get sorted out. He needs to work out the problem himself.

In 1958-59 against the West Indies, I decided that I would cut my back lift against the fast bowlers and looked to push the ball or use the bowler's pace to score runs. I thought of this myself, improvised accordingly, and succeeded. I think Ganguly should have thought of his shortcomings in New Zealand and worked on them there itself.

Where should Sachin Tendulkar bat in South Africa?

Tendulkar is a great bat. He can bat anywhere in the order and shine. He can control the game and change gears as he pleases. But I think that he should bat at number four. His experience and genius at number four will be invaluable to the team. If the team is doing badly he can weather through the period and attack at the end; if the going is good and he comes in at four then the opposition captain will only have more to worry about.

If we get off to a good start, it won't be such a bad idea to send him in at three also.

But at the top, the right-left combination of Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag should stay.

As a selector, what did you look for in a player when picking him?

'Which player contributes to the team with his batting, fielding and bowling' is what I look for in player. I look for all-rounders in my team. Take the example of Ajit Agarkar. He gets picked so often because he contributes a lot to the side with his fielding -- which is excellent; his batting, which is good; and his bowling, which is good but inconsistent. I think he tries to do too much and therefore his line gets affected. If he can control that, he is ideal for the one-dayers.

Look at Javagal Srinath. He has cut down his pace and controlled his swing beautifully. His bowling has been a revelation.

I think Tinu Yohannan has got a lot of talent and speed. If he is handled and guided well, he can go a long way. He has developed a slower delivery, which is very effective.

Which would you rate as your better selections?

Parthiv Patel to my mind is the finest of the lot. When I saw him play long ago, I told Vikram Patel of the Gujarat Cricket Association that this boy needs to be in your Ranji team. His cricket IQ level is very high. He bats and keeps very well. Parthiv will play for a long time for the country.

Tinu Yohannan, Ashish Nehra, Deep Dasgupta as an opening batsman and Harbhajan Singh have been some of my better selections.

But you had opted for Sarandeep Singh instead of Harbhajan before the Australian series in India until the senior players fought for his inclusion!

Yes, that is true, but don't forget that Sarandeep has done very well too. He got five-wicket hauls and bowls a very consistent line. The skipper had more faith in Harbhajan Singh and that made the difference. If the skipper has more faith then we have to give in to him.

Was Harbhajan an exception or is this the norm?

If the request is genuine, we have always accommodated the skipper's suggestion. But I believe that the team's interest is of utmost importance. A balanced side is the key.

Do you think that zonal selections exist, or is it just a media creation? Should the selectors be made paid professionals?

I think it is nonsense and most definitely a media creation. I think we need professionalism in the selection committee. We should be paid monthly packets and held accountable for our actions.

We selectors play a very thankless role. We only get the bricks, never the bouquets.

Do you think selection meetings should be videotaped for public viewing?

I don't think that is a good idea. I would be very uncomfortable with the idea of being recorded. We are there for a serious job and being taped will make me feel uneasy.

What was your initial reaction when the skipper and coach decided that Rahul Dravid would keep wickets?

Initially I was wondering if he would be able to deliver the goods. But I admire him for the way he has settled into the job. He has lived up to our expectations and has surprised many people who questioned the move. From the team's point of view I think it has worked.

The New Zealand tour has been a disaster. Your comment.

It is simple: the batsmen failed to apply themselves. They should take a cue from the way Yuvraj Singh applied himself and fought the tough conditions. Dravid also fought well, but was dismissed at important moments in the series. I think the boys should have got over the media hype in New Zealand and prepared themselves better to face the conditions.

Everyone says the wickets were too seamer-friendly, but my argument is that don't we do the same thing in India by preparing spinner-friendly tracks? We adapt and use our conditions better than the opposition.

I think the New Zealand bowlers used the wickets to great effect. They were brilliant in executing the plans. Jacob Oram will be the find of the tour.

How will India fare at the World Cup?

I believe that if India gets through to the Super Six, it will go all the way. Getting into the Super Six is the one big hurdle. This one is anybody's cup. All have defeated each other and there won't be a more open tournament than this.

If we begin well, then I don't see India being held behind.

Do you think the foreign coach has made a difference to the side? Do you think we have good coaches in India?

What is extraordinary about what John [Wright] does? We have enough people here who can coach the Indian team.

Finally, who has been the finest selection of your career?

The finest selection of my entire career as selector has and will be Mohammad Azharuddin. I remember the day when Sunil Gavaskar, the captain, and I were standing on the Eden Garden wicket discussing who should play. Sensing the big crowd, Gavaskar suggested that Chandrakant Pandit should play, but I picked Azhar. I added that even if he loses, I would give him more chances. After the century on debut by Azhar, Gavaskar came to me and applauded me for my decision.

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Number of User Comments: 15

Sub: Well Ganguly

I guess the problem with Ganguly is his arrogance. He does not want to listen to the coah and the team mates as well. This ...

Posted by Murthy

Sub: Borde's Advice to Ganguly

Borde has done some plain talking.Ganguly and his team should follow his advice even in this late hour and train intensively to play well in ...

Posted by Dr.M.N.K.Nair

Sub: Ganguly is the man for India

Ganguly is one of the better captains that India has had. I am sure that we would not have been in this position if he ...

Posted by Gautam Valasae

Sub: my indian team

SouravGanguly Virender Sehwag Sachin Tendulkar Rahul Dravid Yuvraj Singh Mohammed Kaif Ajit Agarkar Harbhajan Singh Anil Kumble Zaheer Khan Javagal Srinath and Dinesh Mongia ...

Posted by mukesh kumar

Sub: Selfish Ganguly

Ganguly has been repeatedly saying that sachin given all his experience & talent should come down the order & guide the team in the crucial ...

Posted by N.G.RAVIE


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