No more it seems can a chief selector report in a press briefing on the reasons for the non-selection of cricketers
In checking online for the recent whereabouts of English footballer Rio Ferdinand, I read that the former national player was dropped from the English squad over a year ago for what the coach publicly called “football reasons.” My thoughts immediately went to both the WICB/Sarwan and WICB/Simmons affairs. If my understanding of the matter is correct, then one of the main reasons the players won their arbitration awards against the WICB was that public comments made by WICB officials on the reasons for their non-selection damaged, in Mr Sarwan’s submission, his “reputation as a professional cricketer” and “sullied his career as an international cricketer.” The WICB, you see, had questioned Mr Sarwan’s fitness and attitude.
The verdict against the WICB stirred no small measure of confusion in my mind. I had since hoped that more informed contributors to the letter column would have clarified matters. But it seems that transparency and accountability, two of the things for which the WI cricket fans have continuously clamoured over the decades, have now been hit over the fence and into the trench. No more, apparently, could a chief selector now calmly and candidly report at a press briefing on the reasons for the non-selection of players. Not only would the media hang on to his every word, but so too would a battery of lawyers.
If ‘fitness’ and ‘attitude’ are now legally taboo in official public explanations for a player’s non-selection, then a player may soon claim that statements about his ‘recurring injury,’ ‘shot selection’ or ‘vulnerability in English conditions’ are equally detrimental to his reputation and employment prospects. Where will the slippery slope take us?
But what of the WI fans? The victory of Messrs Sarwan and Simmons could likely usher in an era of deep public ignorance and wild speculation with regards to WI team selection. The fans could be the big losers in this saga.
The tension, however, between the public thirst to be informed and the selectors’ legal restraints on informing is bound to snap. The opposing forces cannot co-exist. No marks for predicting the winner.
Meanwhile, back in England, Mr Ferdinand, he who was dropped last year for football reasons, has announced he is now in full playing form and is eagerly awaiting a call from the national coach.