IT IS India's No. 1 sport but the men who run cricket hardly care. No play was possible at the Feroze Shah Kotla in the Delhi-UP Ranji Trophy match on Monday.
The ostensible reason: bad weather.
The real reason: an umpire and the match referee went missing for about 90 minutes.
That is not all. The match, delayed in the morning because of bad light, was called off after lunch even though the possibility of the light improving existed --- which it indeed did.
The two umpires -- I. Shivaram from Hyderabad and Samir Bandekar from Mumbai -- concluded at 9.15 a.m. that the light was not sufficient for play to begin. The light improved around 11 a.m. and the players prepared to take the field. But there was no sign of Bandekar and the match referee, Sambran Banerjee. For over 45 minutes, the teams and their coaches Chetan Chauhan (Delhi) and Rajinder Singh Hans (UP) seemed clueless about what was happening.
When HT asked Shivaram where Bandekar and Banerjee were, all he said was: "No comment."
The missing officials appeared at 11.45 a.m. Asked where he had disappeared, a rattled Banerjee said: "I was in the toilet." For 90 minutes? Banerjee didn't like this question and left.
HT learnt that Banerjee and Bandekar had gone to a nearby ground to watch a Bengal-Punjab Under-22 match.
Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) sports secretary Sunil Dev said he would request the DDCA to file a complaint with the BCCI. BCCI joint secretary M.P. Pandove said: "If this is true, and if the DDCA files a complaint, then strict action will be taken against the officials."