Manoj Tiwary. (TOI Photo)
MUMBAI: Former Bengal skipper Manoj Tiwary, who played 12 ODIs and three T20Is for India, believes that selection meetings to pick Team India should be telecast live, instead of being held behind closed doors.
“Team selections should be aired live, so that everyone can see which selector is taking which player’s name on which grounds. It will help us assess if the selection is fair or not. Normally, what happens is that when we players ask the selectors about why we were ignored, they tend to blame each other for it. So, to make things clear, it’s necessary that the selection meeting is telecast live,” Tiwary said in an Instagram chat with ABP live on Sunday evening.
The 34-year-old pointed out that the IPL was helping foreign batsmen more than their Indian counterparts. “The Indian batsmen need to bat in the top order in the IPL. I’m not against foreign players, but some of them aren’t used to our pitches, take the opening slot and do well. They get used to playing in the Indian conditions. If you notice, due to the IPL, most of them have become so good against spin, which they couldn’t tackle earlier, that it becomes difficult to dismiss them in the ICC tournaments. We need to think about it, and it should be planned accordingly. Every team has four overseas players who’re all generally experienced. Even if they come down the order, they can handle that pressure. Ultimately, you’ve to provide the Indian players better opportunities to excel at the top,” he explained.
“Right now, very few teams play the Indian batsmen in the top four in the IPL. Most of the teams have foreigners in the top order, and they’re getting used to our conditions, our bowlers, and our spin. They then utilize that experience to play us well in the ICC tournaments,” he added.
Tiwary stressed that it was important for the selectors to communicate with players when they’re dropped from the team. “If you don’t do that, you’ll have problems. Players will obviously raise questions. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen several players – Murali Vijay, Karun Nair and Shreyas Iyer for example – come out in the open and say that there was no communication at all (from the selectors and/or the team management) when they were dropped.
Tiwary felt that the selectors messed up the No 4 slot and that cost India dearly in the 2019 World Cup. “They had four years to find a good No 4, still they couldn’t. Somewhere, we suffered due to this blunder in the World Cup semis. When they had so much time to finalise a man for the slot, this confusion shouldn’t have happened. It shows that the selection lacked consistency,” he lamented.
Tiwary alleged that players from the East Zone don’t get a fair deal when comes to selection of the Indian team. “Power talks. More players are given chances from the state or zone to which the chief selector belongs to. There’s nothing to hide about it. A lot of players from the East Zone don’t get their due as compared to players from other zones. Take the example of Shahbaz Nadeem – it took a long time for him to get a Test cap despite performing well in domestic cricket for a number of years. Saurabh Tiwary is another example- in fact, there are many examples like that. If I start saying the truth, a lot of people in power will be upset. In our country, people tend to misuse power. A lot of players are afraid to speak out because they’re afraid of the consequences. You should get an equal opportunity, but it doesn’t happen, which makes me feel sad,” he said. “Post my retirement, if I become a cricket administrator, I’d ensure that no one who’s deserving doesn’t even get a chance,” he added.
Citing the example of how he feels regionalism is an open secret in Indian cricket, Tiwary said: “Hanuma Vihari, who made his debut for India when MSK Prasad was the chief selector, Before MSK became the chairman of selectors, no one talked about Vihari in domestic cricket. He was scoring runs, but his team (Andhra) was playing in the Plate Division, and then for one year in the Elite division. However, his name came into the reckoning only when MSK Prasad (who’s also from Andhra) became the chief selector.” “Similarly, when West Zone was in power, Wasim bhai (Wasim Jaffer) kept getting a lot of chances, and later it was the case with Gurukeerat Singh and Rishi Dhawan when North was in power.”
Tiwary said: “There’s favouritsim in Indian cricket. There’s no doubt that there are strong likes and dislikes. Those who’ve followed my career know that I’d sit out for 14 games after scoring a hundred (at Chennai against the West Indies). I’d never thought that after hitting a ton, winning the Man of the Match award in that game, I’d not be able to book a spot for me in the team. I couldn’t understand this. Those 14 games took place over six months, in which India toured a lot. I was a part of the squad, but never got a game. It may be that the captain and the team management had different views about me, which I don’t know till today.”
Tiwary revealed that he couldn’t even bat in the nets during the WorldTwenty20 in Sri Lanka in 2012. “It happened a lot of times with me. You can understand why it happens, because most time in the nets is given to those who’re in the playing XI. I wouldn’t bat because the net bowlers would be too tired by the end of the session. I used to prepare mentally to be ready in case I got a game.
There were times when he even felt like retiring from Indian cricket, as he felt unwanted in the Indian team. “After I scored that Chennai hundred, we went to Australia. I remember that no one was scoring runs in the middle order on that tour. I thought that I would get a chance, but when I didn’t, I thought that I would announce my retirement from international cricket the moment I return to India. However, I soon realised that I’m not a person who believes in running away from trouble. I used to watch motivational videos to motivate me. I used to always get a chance in the fourth or fifth game of a series, and not from the start. I was always in doubt about whether I’d get a chance and there was hardly any clarity on that. I was never communicated to, which would have improved my mindset and helped me perform well.”