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Politics hits HP cricket for a six!

Tuesday?s Ranji Trophy one-day match between Delhi and Himachal Pradesh is going to attract a lot of media attention for all the wrong reasons.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2006 02:51 IST
C. Shekhar Luthra
C. Shekhar Luthra

Tuesday’s Ranji Trophy one-day match between Delhi and Himachal Pradesh is going to attract a lot of media attention for all the wrong reasons. The two politically influenced teams will be looking to make amends for their performance -- five points from two outings -- so far in the tournament.

The outcome of the match may hardly surprise anyone, given the kind of players representing Himachal in the ongoing tourney. On the other hand, despite a lot of politicking within the Kotla premises, the Delhi team has shown a lot of promise since the induction of some new faces.

The only surprise on the Delhi front will come if they choose to unveil a new “pressure” boy. But for that, one has to wait till the toss. Coming into this match, Himachal have just one thing right and that is a regular skipper, Nishchal Gaur. In fact, going by the BCCI's vote count, Himachal have so many things “properly fixed” apart from cricket.

It was just before the recent BCCI elections in Kolkata that the whole problem started. For the sake of one vote, the ruling BCCI faction (it was in opposition at that time) compromised the careers of so many budding cricketers. The court battle is still on. And it could go on for many more months or years!

But the immediate result? A team like Himachal, on the verge of qualification to the Elite Group last season, is back to reflecting the old “Nayyar-era”. The unholy fight between the BCCI promoted Rajinder Zar faction and democratically elected Anurag Thakur group has made a mockery of cricket in this tiny hill state.

Though, after the intervention of Supreme Court, a three-member panel (Gursharan Singh, Sarkar Talwar and Bhupinder Singh Senior) was appointed by the BCCI to select the team for this tournament, the team picked by these three ex-cricketers gives an impression of complete bias.

A veteran player like Rajeev Nayyar, now approaching 40 and the son of former HPCA secretary SC Nayyar, has been brought back into the squad for no cricketing reason. Even during his prime, his only contribution was the introduction of the “Art of Playing Cricket with Pads”.

The appointment of Gaur as captain has also raised many eyebrows. Gaur has a “healthy” average of 11.50 (115 runs in 10 innings) after appearing in five matches this season. He was not even part of last season’s squad. In the 2003-04 season, he embarrassed his tailenders by making 56 runs from three matches (six innings) at an average of 4.33. His best average in recent memory was of 25.10 during the 2002-03 season.

The selectors may plead they have picked the best team out of the total 115 who turned out for trials at Mohali on March 5. But does anyone have the guts to reveal the real story behind selecting players like Gaur and Nayyar? We need no answer.

If Bhupinder, a current National selector, does not wish to antagonise his own ruling body, then how can we expect Talwar and Gursharan, who have managed to get into the good books of the board, to take chances?

The show, nevertheless, will go on. God bless cricket!


Nishchal Gaur (capt), Sangram Singh, Manvinder Singh Bisla, Rajeev Nayyar, Sandeep Sharma, Paras Dogra, Abhineesh Sharma, Vishal Bhatia, Rajinder Thakur, Manish Gupta, Vikramjit Malik, Ashok Thakur, Rahul Panta, Vijay Kumar Boon and Jatinder Mehta.

First Published: Feb 14, 2006 02:51 IST