MSK Prasad’s stint as chairman of India’s senior selection committee has come to an end 3 years after he took over one of the most high-profile jobs in world cricket.
While the role brings with it scope for scrutiny and criticism, MSK Prasad and his colleagues in the 5-member committee faced a lot of it over the last 3 years. Eyebrows were raised when Prasad was appointed the chairman of the selection committee of one of the most powerful cricketing sides in the world.
MSK Prasad’s lack of international experience has always been a talking point despite all the positive results the team has managed during his tenure. His colleagues — Devang Gandhi, Sharandeep Singh, Jatin Paranjpe and Gagan Khoda have even lesser international exposure.
Among the 5 members of the panel, MSK Prasad is the most experienced with 6 Tests and 17 ODIs. Put together, the international experience of India’s senior selection committee is 13 Tests and 31 ODIS. Of the 5, 2 don’t have any Test match experience.
They were labelled ‘lightweight’. ‘Micky Mouse panel’. Former batting great Sunil Gavaskar called the selection panel ‘lame duck’. Farokh Engineer kicked up a storm when he said he saw a selector serving tea to Bollywood actor and Virat Kohli’s wife Anushka Sharma at the 2019 World Cup.
The intense scrutiny though did not affect MSK Prasad. He says handling the outside noise was rather easy. In an exclusive interview to indiatoday.in, the outgoing chairman of the selection committee says ‘clarity of thought’ was the panel’s biggest strength over the last 3 years.
“I have never felt the pressure. You’ll only feel restless and uncomfortable if there’s no clarity of thought. We were very very clear especially while picking players,” MSK Prasad said.
“You should believe in your plan and execute it to the best of your abilities. Then you don’t have to worry about what’s going on outside.
“In order to pick the right players, we [the members of the panel] watched a lot of domestic cricket all of us. We discuss a lot of cricket between us all 5 of us.
“It needed extensive travelling. We travelled about 220-240 days a year. We rounded off some of the players based on their consistency over the last 2 years. We groomed them through India A process. We backed them. As and when there were requirements, we got the bench strength ready.
“Today we have 6 quality spinners apart from the main guys. We have got 4 fast bowlers apart from our 5 main bowlers. They are good enough to represent India at will.
“Criticism is part and parcel of this job. The pressure as well. This comes only because of the post we are holding. I am sure we did our best to handle that. We were, in fact, happy to handle it the way we did.”
Overseas defeats my biggest regret: MSK Prasad
While India’s prolonged stay at the top of the Test rankings gave him a lot of joy, their failures at the ICC tournaments during his stint is something that MSK Prasad would have wanted to change if he had an option to travel back in time.
After MSK Prasad took over, India went into Champions Trophy 2017 as one of the favourites. Despite dominating the tournament, Virat Kohli-led India lost the final to Pakistan.
Despite the lack of clarity over middle-order options in the lead up to ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019, India dominated the tournament only to bow out in the semi-final.
“I think our No.1 ranking in Test cricket for 3 years has given me the biggest satisfaction. We won the ODI series in New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia. The Test series win in Australia was definitely a sweet one,” MSK Prasad said.
“My biggest regret would be overseas defeats. I would have loved to see the reverse of what exactly happened in South Africa and England. We had everything in our team. Our team deserved to win the way they fought. But for those crucial moments in Edgbaston and Southampton and also Cape Town, the results could have been the other way around.”