Dilip Vengsarkar‘s tenure as chief selector of Indian cricket team is remembered for his ability to spot and promote raw talent. An exceptional batsman during his playing days, Vengsarkar played a vital role in giving India two of their modern day greats in MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli. Also Read - MATCH HIGHLIGHTS IND vs NZ WTC Final, Today DAY 4 Cricket Updates: Reserve Day in Focus as Play Abandoned Due to Rain in Southampton
Vengsarkar, who turned 64 on Monday, was the chairman of selection committee between 2006-08. Recalling his tenure, the India legend said spotting talent isn’t enough, what one does afterwards makes the difference. Also Read - Kyle Jamieson Reacts After Taking Virat Kohli's Wicket in WTC 2021 Final at Southampton
“Selecting talent was my forte,” Vengsarkar told PTI. “I will tell you something. You might be good at spotting talent but what you do after spotting is very important. If someone is talented, you have to induct him and give him chances.” Also Read - MS Dhoni Wears Traditional Cap in Shimla, Flaunts New Look - Takes Internet by Storm
It was Vengsarkar who picked a young Kohli for the Emerging India team’s tour of Australia. He also credits BCCI’s now defunct Talent Research Development Wing (TRDW) for helping him do his job perfectly.
“I have watched a lot of U-16 and U-19s as TRDW chairman and watched Virat a lot during his junior cricket days. So when I became chairman of selection committee, we picked him for an Emerging Tour of Australia. I was there and when I saw him bat, I knew he is ready for big time cricket,” Vengsarkar recalled.
To succeed at the highest level, the former India captain says, one needs to have ‘something extra’.
“You can never be sure whether someone will go on to play that long. What I saw was an exceptional talent and if you have an eye, you would know which players are more likely to succeed at the highest level. You need to have something extra. Virat had that,” he said.
That said, a selector must be brave enough to back cricketers and Vengsarkar certainly had that since he supported a young Kohli whose fiery attitude could very well have proved to be detrimental.
“…every selector must have courage and conviction along with eye for talent. If you are convinced about someone, you have to back him to the hilt. That’s what good selectors do,” he said. “I don’t think anybody pressurised me. I was convinced that I had picked a guy who had exceptional talent at that point of time. I knew he was a tremendous player who needed backing.”
It was Vengsarkar’s chairman panel that appointed Dhoni as the captain of Indian cricket team following which the wicketkeeper-batsman led them to title win at the inaugural ICC World T20 in 2007.
However, he does rue the discontinuation of TRDW after the late Jagmohan Dalmiya had lost BCCI elections.
“Once Mr Dalmiya lost elections, they discontinued the TRDW thing. Extremely unfortunate as players who were spotted and sent to NCA became big stars. In fact, the players I selected then gave me an idea of bench strength when I became head of selection committee. That’s how useful TRDW was,” he said.
He’s also unhappy at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) being used mainly as a rehab centre nowadays.
“NCA at that point of time was doing well, now it has become a rehab centre. I loved my time as chairman of NCA because Mr Dalmiya gave me a free hand,” he said. “All those players whom I spotted there grew in stature. That gives me immense pride and a sense of satisfaction.”