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After manic Monday, happy days here again

cricket Updated: Aug 26, 2009 10:03 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

There will be no exodus, after all. After a week of intense speculation over the possibility of Virender Sehwag leading a revolt against

The anatomy of a crisis

When did it all begin?
August 17, when Sehwag stated that that he would quit the Delhi Ranji Trophy side and move to Haryana. He said there was 'manipulation' in selection policies of state teams and said that he would take a final decision after a meeting with DDCA president Arun Jaitley.

What set Sehwag off?
Nothing particular, except a belief perhaps that only desperate measures would work with the DDCA. Sehwag had been talking about making an attempt to sort out interference in Delhi's cricketing matters by the DDCA's sports committee for years now. Two years ago, he was promised change, which didn't materialize. Last season, he decided that he would make one last attempt and if it didn't work, he would move to Haryana, which had approached him last season. As the final date to change states is August 31, it had to be now or never.

How did DDCA react?
On August 18, some DDCA officials stated that Sehwag was trying to arm-twist the association into picking relative Mayank Tehlan. Others said that Sehwag was planning on going to Haryana as quid pro quo for his being given land for an academy there. The DDCA brass stay silent, with only Jaitley saying there was no crisis and that he would meet with Sehwag on the player's return from Bangalore.

What happened next?
Things really flare up when Sehwag's Delhi and India teammates, Gautam Gambhir, Ishant Sharma and Ashish Nehra come out openly in support of their skipper, saying they too will look to move elsewhere unless the situation at the DDCA improves. Former Delhi cricketers also stand by Sehwag, say the DDCA must clean up its act if it doesn't want to lose its big names.

How did it end?
On the night of August 24, Jaitley and the DDCA brass meet with Sehwag and Gambhir, who were accompanied by former India captain MAK Pataudi. The president assured the cricketers that all the issues raised by them would be addressed. A press conference is called on August 25, where Jaitley announces the end of the crisis and the attempts at change.

—HTC

the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) and its ‘corrupt’ ways and shifting base to Haryana, the issue finally looked to have been resolved.

It was at the Monday-night meeting between Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and the DDCA top brass at president Arun Jaitley’s house, where the India duo — accompanied by former India skipper Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi — was assured that the Association would take steps to address the issues raised.

“We discussed several issues and I can tell you that the nature of discussion was not adversarial,” Jaitley said at a press conference at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Tuesday.

The cricketers’ concern centred around a biased selection process in the state teams. “Their suggestions were well-intentioned and I told both the players and my colleagues that steps should be taken so that the standard of fairness of the highest level is maintained,” Jaitley said.

However, what will not please the players was Jaitley saying that the system of selectors being nominated by the Sports Committee would continue. The role and working of the Sports Committee had come under severe criticism from Sehwag, with the Delhi skipper accusing it of pressurising selectors to pick certain players.

“The job of the Sports Committee is to only nominate names for selectors, in the end, it is up to the Executive Committee to either agree or disregard those names,” Jaitley said. “I can tell you the best way to run the system is to not confront your own bodies. You have to reconcile with your bodies, you can make suggestions, and I have not found them in defiance of the Executive Committee. I don’t think they will be.”

The president, however, agreed there was room for improvement in the running of junior cricket in the state.

“The effort of those who assess the performance in junior cricket has to be more,” Jaitley said. “People are still maturing, still developing, an assessment is also difficult. In fact, we would like some of our most tested and trusted selectors to spend their time even on junior cricket.”

Jaitley was confident the impasse had been resolved, saying: “I hope everybody plays happily together, which they will.”

Monday meeting: What Sehwag and Gambhir said

That sports committee members should not interfere in selections. What they reportedly said was that the sports committee first appointed its own selectors and then forced those men to select their own wards to various Delhi teams.

That the Ranji captain should have a greater say in selection matters. They felt that there was no point in the senior players be asked for their opinion and then, have that opinion disregarded come selection time.

That sports committee members should “behave properly” with senior Ranji players and not “talk roughly” to them.

That what happened outside of cricketing matters at the DDCA was not their business. That if someone had to be “obliged” in the DDCA, he should be obliged in some other department of administration, not by allowing him any interference in matters cricket.

That Delhi hosted many important tournaments like the Lala Raghubir and the GG Dutt and either selectors or those who could spot talent and let the selectors know should be present at such tournaments.

That pre-season trials for Delhi teams should take the form of a tournament, with players divided into three—four teams. They believed that that would not only help in finding competitive talent but also help in “fostering team spirit”.

That a committee of senior (former) players is set up, one that can handle cricket-related affairs in DDCA and advise the executive on cricketing matters. (DDCA president Arun Jaitley later stated that MAK Pataudi would be asked to chair this committee)

They said that men of integrity, people who could withstand pressure, should be selectors and suggested several names as potential candidates for the selection committee (please see box)

(Note: They did not ask that the sports committee be disbanded or the sports secretary be sacked. There was no threat of any mutiny nor blackmail of any sort)

Cricket advisory body
(Possibly called the Cricket Improvement Committee)

* Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday that the DDCA was mulling the setting up of a cricket advisory body, made of former cricketers. Much in the mould of the Cricket Improvement Committee in Mumbai, the body is envisaged as a bridge between the administration and the players, a body that can suggest improvements in cricketing matters and help effect it smoothly.

* “In principle, we are ready to have such a body but we need to explore the idea before deciding what function it can perform and shortlist individuals who have the time and intention for the job,” said Jaitley. “We are contemplating a cricket advisory body and if he (MAK Pataudi) is willing and has the time, we would be happy to have him there.”

* However, according to sources, Pataudi seemed reluctant to get involved, only saying he would think over it. “But we really want him and will keep asking him to head this body,” said an official.

Time-peace

6-6:30pm: Sehwag and Pataudi reach Jaitley's house, where Jaitley and general secretary SP Bansal are waiting to meet them. Gambhir joins the meeting a little later.

7:30pm: DDCA vice-presidents Chetan Chauhan, CK Khanna and Suresh Chopra arrive, along with sports secretary Sunil Dev.

About 8pm: Jaitley and Bansal persuade Sehwag and Gambhir to stay on and talk to the other officials, which they were reportedly reluctant to do at first.

The ensuing discussion on various issues lasts about an hour and a half.