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Did BCCI break an age-old rule in appointing Ajit Agarkar as India’s chief selector?

Ajit Agarkar’s appointment as the chairman of the BCCI senior men’s selection committee is being seen as a step in the right direction for Indian cricket. For starters, it has ended the four-month-long wait for a chief selector – the position was vacant since February this year when Chetan Sharma had to quit following a sting operation by a TV news channel. SS Das was working as the interim chief selector. Agarkar is also easily the most high-profile member of the selection committee in close to a decade. The 2007 T20 World Cup winner has represented India in 191 ODIs apart from 26 Tests and 4 T20Is. He holds the record for scoring the fastest ODI half-century by an Indian and is also the fastest Indian to reach 50 ODI wickets.

Apart from these, there is another important factor that makes Agarkar’s appointment a landmark move. Agarkar, who is from the West Zone, will lead a panel that includes Subroto Banerjee (Central Zone), S Sharath (South Zone), SS Das (East Zone), and Salil Ankola (West Zone). This means, there will be two selectors from the West Zone and none from the North. Ideally, a former cricketer from North Zone should have replaced Chetan Sharma as Ankola was already there from the West Zone.

But since no other high-profile candidates from North Zone applied for the selector’s post, the BCCI had little choice but to do away with an age-old practice of appointing five selectors from five zones.

But the Indian cricket board did not break any rule. Yes, the board did follow a convention for all these years but in its constitution, drafted as per the RM Lodha-committee recommendations, there is no such rule related to the selectors’ appointment on a zonal basis.

BCCI in its advertisement inviting applications for the chairman of selector’s post on June 22, also did not mention anything about a particular zone. The advertisement said that the person applying for the post should have played at least seven Test matches or 30 first-class matches or 10 ODIs and 20 first-class matches. He should also have retired from the game at least five years ago.

The BCCI followed the zonal appointment of selectors as a general practice for all these years. This was never questioned as it allowed equal representation of the member associations from five different zones. But having said, this should not be confused with a rule or law.

Agarkar’s first assignment will be to chair the selection committee meeting on India’s T20I squad for the West Indies tour. The Test and the ODI squads were picked earlier. The meeting is set to take place later this week. India will play two Tests, three ODIs, and five T20Is in the West Indies

The bigger challenge for Agarkar, who has previously served as chairman of the Mumbai Cricket Association’s selection committee, will be to zero in on India’s squad for the Asia Cup and the ICC World Cup 2023 later this year.

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