In an unprecedented revolt against the Cricket Board's policy to ban national selectors from writing columns, three selectors today threatened to quit their posts if the BCCI persisted with the gag order.
The selectors said that they could be forced to relinquish their posts if the BCCI did not lift the ban, giving a dramatic new twist to the ongoing tussle between the BCCI administrators and the selectors.
"We are not servants, we cannot be treated in such a way. If such a gag order continues, some of us may step down", one of the selectors told PTI on condition of anonymity.
He said chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar, who has been writing newspaper columns for nearly 15 years, was "extremely angry" with the gag order and two of his colleagues also shared his views.
"The selectors have been made to look like jokers. While we have been banned from interacting with the media, the BCCI officials have been selectively leaking news. We cannot compromise with our dignity", he said.
While the selectors have taken a tough stand, the BCCI said it was not aware of any such development.
"The BCCI has not received any communication from the selectors in this regard. We are not aware that they have threatened to quit", BCCI Vice President Rajiv Shukla said.
Another BCCI source said that Vengsarkar had sought special permission from the BCCI to continue writing columns.
"We are considering his request, but no decision has been taken as yet", the source said.
The selector also said the BCCI did not have the "basic courtesy" of discussing the issue with the selection panel and knowing their views.
"It is the prerogative of the BCCI to issue guidelines. But we are opposed to the manner in which things have been done. It not only shows the BCCI in poor light but also reflects on our integrity," he said.
The threat message came a day after the BCCI sent reminders to the selectors, asking them not to write columns in newspapers as per its constitutional provisions.
"Yes, a message has been sent to the selectors not to write columns," said BCCI Secretary Niranjan Shah from Rajkot.
The selectors were particularly unhappy that Vengsarkar was asked to explain why he had continued to write newspaper columns, including in BCCI Chief's Sharad Pawar's family-owned newspaper 'Sakal', despite a gag order having been put in place.
Asked whether Vengsarkar had replied to that message Shah said these things took some time to get sorted out.
"You see these things take some time," he said.
A former selector revealed that as per the constitution of the Board no selector can lend his name to a newspaper column and expressed surprise how Vengsarkar was allowed to flout the clause.
"It's all in the constitution. I don't know how he was allowed to write a column," he told.
Vengsarkar, who took over as the chairman of the selection committee from Kiran More, has often found himself at the centre of controversy for his statements which ultimately prompted the Board to issue the gag orders.
Among the guidelines, the selectors were not allowed to attend customary press conference to announce the team or interact with media in any way and go to players' dressing room.
Vengsarkar was conspicuous by his absence in a press conference last week to announce the Test team for the Pakistan series.
The selectors have also been asked to watch the players in domestic matches as they would not be sent on the foreign tours as per the new guidelines of the Cricket Board.