THE most important committee of any cricket organisation is the selection panel.
That is so because the team on the field of play is the one representing its cricket association in the competition in which it is participating. And the way they play and how they perform reflects on the administration that controls the cricket matters of that establishment. There are various committees vital for the smooth operation of the outfit concerned, and the entity cannot exist efficiently without them.
However, the end product is the 11 players on the field. One’s entire organisation will be judged by this group of cricketers. Hence, it must be understood why the executive committee of any cricket body has the utmost responsibility when electing individuals as selectors.
Consequently, this committee is, or ought to be, judged solely by the results of the team they picked to play.
But there are no hard-and-fast rules. Sometimes explanations are required by the executive, which are produced upon request by the chairman of the committee.
I was therefore stunned to see that the TT Cricket Board (TTCB) had made pertinent changes to its selection committee for reasons that seem to be classified information.
I personally thought that the 2020 selectors had been functioning up to expectations. The national team has been performing and was lying second in the title race to Barbados when the league was called off owing to the pandemic.
Tony Gray being removed from the post of chairman was a shocker. Gray is a most knowledgeable and analytical cricket brain.
His replacement, Rajendra Mangalie, is out of his league. Mangalie doesn’t have the experience or the expertise of Gray. He has only been a national selector for one year and the awareness of situations, plus the wisdom that only comes with familiarity, would need a lot more time than that.
Neither has he played that much first-class cricket. Why does he come to the conclusion that: “no cricketer will feel left out or believe that they have not been given fair consideration when the selection panel gets down to work?”
Anyone chosen to be the chairman, let alone a selector, is considered to have integrity. Therefore, it goes without saying that all cricketers would be given fair consideration. Why does Mangalie feel the need to express it?
Another problem that the TTCB has, and I’m surprised that it allowed this to pass, is the fact that Mangalie, a wealthy businessman, has assisted the board with sponsorship of one kind or another and is chairman of the sponsorship and marketing committee of the board. Thus it would be compromising the selection process. The role of the selection panel would be tainted.
As one of the sponsors of the board, the TTCB will have to depend on the chairman of selectors for funds and fund-raising; hence the selection of players is at risk.
Also, replacing Keno Mason with Richard Kelly jr. at this stage is a backward step. No continuity.
Then we have the choice of a coach. The panel that is interviewing candidates for the post lacks the cricket intelligence needed for that job. Ann Browne-John is the only one with some experience of playing and coaching at the highest level in addition to the understanding of what is required.
A team coach is not the same as an academy coach. One needs to be able to read the game; have a basic psychological sense which comes only from having experienced match situations; have the expertise derived from playing at high levels; and an unfettered background in coaching, together with the empathy for dealing with various personalities from different backgrounds who are all going to be on the same team and under the same roof.
Do we have such a paucity of erudite and well-informed cricket individuals in TT that the TTCB could only muster one in a panel of five? That reflects very badly on a nation that is one of the founders of Cricket West Indies.
It is more than passing strange that the non-renewal of Mervyn Dillon’s contract and the release of Tony Gray, two former Test match cricketers, have happened after the 2020 season, when there was a falling-out between Dillon and Denesh Ramdin, a former West Indies captain, both of whom were summoned, along with Tony Gray, to a meeting with the president of the TTCB Azim Bassarath.
This situation begs for revelations. TT cricket followers deserve an explanation.