Former cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi tells Prakhar Jain that the cricket body and the selection process should be overhauled
The debacle in the Test series against Australia has raised serious questions. Whom do you blame for the poor show?
No one can be blamed. Since it is a team game, it’s a collective failure. When we win, everything is hunky-dory. When we lose, we call it a national shame. This needs to be analysed. We can’t write it as a national shame when we are competing at an international level, that too in sports.
The Indian Test team has been consistently performing badly on foreign soil. This is, after all, the seventh consecutive loss.
This is their second bad tour. They have done well in Australia earlier. We must accept that our preparations were minimum for this tour, as well as for the tour to England. Who is to blame for that? Not the players. Somewhere down the line, the BCCI should own up that there might have been misplaced priorities. When you are on the upswing and have all the money, that’s all the more reason to engage professionals. We shouldn’t have people holding honorary office in the 21st century.
BCCI chief N Srinivasan has said that we will defeat the Australian team when they come to India. How do you read this statement?
It’s a stupid statement. Will that make us any better? It implies we are lions at home and lambs abroad. The remark belittles the players representing India. Srinivasan doesn’t know what it means to wear Indian colours.
The Australian media criticised the Indian batting line-up as ‘useless rubble’ and called Mahendra Singh Dhoni a passive captain. Your views?
When we won the World Cup last year, the same media praised Dhoni’s ‘great’ captaincy. Do we require the Australian media to tell us about our shortcomings? We don’t believe it if an Indian says so. We have an enormous inferiority complex, which trickles down to our education and our performance on the field.
Do you feel that despite having some of the best talent, Indians don’t have the expertise to play on seaming tracks?
Let’s not get carried away. The boys have done well before in Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa. I have never thought of Dhoni as a great captain. We have made him captain in all formats and it takes plenty of stress to handle it. He is also the ’keeper. He has been an ordinary performer in front of the stumps and behind the wicket.
Don’t you think T20 is partly to blame for the poor results? Is T20 cricket killing Test cricket?
Partly. However, our national commitment has to come from the BCCI. Their priorities are all wrong. They have put so much effort into the IPL that they have forgotten Test cricket. Let us also look at domestic cricket. The Ranji Trophy competition is stagnant. The Duleep Trophy contest is non-existent. That is where we groom good Test cricketers.
Do you think the selection process should be overhauled?
A big overhaul of the BCCI is required. We need professionals who are accountable. This honorary nonsense has to go. They have been here long enough: from before Independence. The only way they are replaced is through death.
Does the policy of reservation for each zone need revisiting?
There shouldn’t be reservation. We don’t even need five selectors, just three. Let them travel the length and breadth of the country, pay them well and make them accountable. Keeping selectors on a zonal basis promotes parochialism. There are two to three players in the current Test team, and the just-announced ODI team, who don’t deserve to be there.
Prakhar Jain is a Correspondent with Tehelka.