For once, leg spinner Anil Kumble was bowled by a straight one — this time off the field by the Indian (Airlines). Indian declined to give the leggie a discount on his ticket fare and insisted that he produce a letter from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Kumble, who had to return to Bangalore on Sunday after the South Zone vs West Zone Duleep trophy tie here in which he had a match haul of eight wickets, tried for a concession on his ticket but in vain as Indian officials declined to give him the customary 42 per cent discount offered to Indian cricket team players as per an agreement with the BCCI.
Even Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA) secretary and national selector Sanjay Jagdale tried to pitch in with requests, but the Indian officials refused to budge. They stuck to their demand of Kumble producing a letter from the BCCI, if he wanted to avail himself of the concession.
The BCCI has a contract with the Indian and the national team players get 42 per cent discount on fare. During domestic matches featuring national cricketers, BCCI issues a letter mentioning players for different matches. Kumble for some reason or the other could not be named in the list as he arrived here for the Duleep trophy tie on his own.
When the error was brought to his notice, Jagdale sent a letter through his representative, but the Indian officials refused to issue a concession ticket stating that they need an authorised letter from the BCCI.
Jagdale told Hindustan Times, “I then sent a word through my representative that the BCCI office is closed for two days and the letter would be given immediately after it opens. IA officials, however, demanded a written note from me that the letter would be given after holidays and refused to issue concession on my verbal assurance.”
Said an exasperated Jagdale, “The entire country knew that Kumble is playing in the Duleep trophy tie and there is no way he could have misused the ticket or the concession offered by Indian.”
MPCA officials finally approached Frequent Travels, which helped Kumble fly on the Indore-Mumbai-Bangalore for Rs 6445. The contract rate of the BCCI on the same sector after discount is Rs 8000 plus, and so Kumble ended up getting a better deal. The normal fare on this route is about Rs 12,200.
When contacted, Frequent Travels director J S Walia said, “The rush was less due to festive season and we had special discounts available and that we provided to Kumble.”
The fact that seats were available in plenty has not gone down well with MPCA officials who say that Indian officials could have waited for a couple of days for an official letter from the BCCI.
When contacted, Indian Airlines, Indore, marketing manager D V Gadgil told Hindustan Times that only reason for refusal could be failure to produce the required documents.
“Although I am on leave and cannot comment officially, I can only say that there could be no other reason for refusal as we have provided concessions to many other cricketers in the past. However, necessary formalities have to be completed,” he said.