‘Players are Selected Because of Influence’

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DDCA selection committee Chairman Chetan Chauhan tells Neha Dixit why Indian vice-captain Virender Sehwag wants to quit the Delhi cricket team

Virender Sehwag has alleged corruption in the selection committee of the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA). 
We respect Sehwag both as a player and a person. I don’t know what triggered this statement. He should have come to us first before going to the media to resolve his issues. There is no corruption in the DDCA. He must have meant that selections are influenced.

So you agree that the DDCA’s selection process is influenced? 
See, there is a culture of recommending people in Delhi. Sifaarish. This works in all arenas, be it for a job, for getting a party ticket or in the cricket selection process. All who live in Delhi believe themselves to be exceptionally powerful, be it politicians, bureaucrats or industrialists. A lot depends on whose sifaarish a player has. Members of the association— both selectors and officials—face a lot of pressure. Though all recommendations are not heeded to, some people eventually succeed in getting their players selected. Cricket has also become very commercialised. There is a lot of remuneration for the players. Which is why all parents want their children to become a Sehwag or a Tendulkar. When they see their children not getting selected, they start looking for someone influential in the system to recommend their child.

Sehwag has even said that some selectors lobby to push a player of their choice into the team. 
Selection is always done on the basis of consensus. If three or four selectors are backing a particular candidate, then we have to go by their decision. It is a democratic system.

He has also hinted at manipulation of the Delhi under-16 and under-19 teams. 
He is pointing towards the Sports Committee. We have promised that if we detect any interference of the Sports Committee in the Selection Committee, we will take action against all the individuals involved.

DDCA officials say that Sehwag is venting his frustration as his cousin Mayank Tehlan was not selected.
I don’t agree with this. He never recommended Tehlan directly. Committee members do have soft corners for the relatives of team members in any case. However, Sehwag never insisted on Tehlan’s selection even in the meetings.

‘There’s a lot of money for players, which is why all parents want their children to become a Tendulkar’

Gautam Gambhir, Ashish Nehra and Ishant Sharma have also supported Sehwag.
I don’t know what the reason behind this sudden rallying is. We have spoken only to Sehwag. We have come to know about the complaints of the other players through the press. They haven’t approached us directly. However, we are taking whatever Sehwag has said very seriously. We believe that these issues will be easily resolved once we have a thorough discussion.

Have you also been subjected to such pressure tactics? 
I am the Chairman now. Very often, I am pressurised to listen to recommendations for players. The selection process is such that sometimes you get selected and sometimes you are dropped. Sehwag himself has been dropped twice for poor performance. Even I have been dropped twice. It’s a part of the parcel. All that I am saying is that no organisation is perfect, and we are trying to resolve whatever is being brought to our notice.

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