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Veil off query that drove Dilip away
- Letter reveals Pawar’s Calcutta question; chief selector ‘felt like dirt’

Dec. 3: More than one reason contributed to chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar’s sudden departure from Calcutta on Saturday, but the proverbial last straw was when BCCI president Sharad Pawar questioned him on whether he’d been denying colleagues the “opportunity” to watch international matches.

According to a well-placed source of The Telegraph, Vengsarkar (the lone selector in town) “felt like dirt” and decided enough was enough. The president-elect, Shashank Manohar, was present when Pawar raised that question.

Instead of humiliating a former captain and one of India’s batting greats, Pawar should’ve asked for the duty roster of the past 15 months, both at home and overseas, and made his own judgement.

Vengsarkar has, in fact, mentioned that question bit in his lengthy letter to Pawar (a copy of which reached this newspaper from a top source in the BCCI) and added that three of his four colleagues confirmed they hadn’t complained.

The letter, however, hasn’t talked about Vengsarkar’s reported differences with secretary Niranjan Shah over his son Jaydev’s selection at the India A level. Nobody will go on record, but there appears to have been a spat over Shah Junior.

Vengsarkar is “absolutely firm” on not continuing as chief selector unless the BCCI “unconditionally” revokes the recently introduced guidelines applicable to the selection committee.

“Vengsarkar has made that clear in his letter and, unless the guidelines are withdrawn, he’s not proceeding to Bangalore for Wednesday’s meeting,” a confidant said.

Speaking this evening, he added: “Vengsarkar, though, won’t be sending his resignation till the president has replied to his letter, which was sent last night…. Courtesy demands that a formal reply be given.”

The BCCI, too, has no plans to revoke anything. “The guidelines aren’t only applicable to Vengsarkar.... A code of conduct has to be there and he has to decide whether he wants to continue or not,” vice-president Rajeev Shukla said.

It’s almost certain that Wednesday’s meeting to choose the squads for the third and final Test against Pakistan and the Test series in Australia will go ahead with nobody in the chief selector’s chair.

However, eyebrows won’t be raised if the most seasoned selector, Sanjay Jagdale, is asked to function as acting chairman. Venkatapathi Raju, Bhupinder Singh (Jr) and Ranjib Biswal complete the committee.

Biswal tried to broker peace last evening but Vengsarkar didn’t take the first step — calling Pawar in New Delhi. Had that been done, Shah would’ve telephoned Vengsarkar.

As another source put it, Biswal “made a sincere effort, but both sides have taken such strong positions…”.

Vengsarkar’s letter is candid and, at times, emotional.

Besides questioning Shah’s penchant for calling meetings to suit his convenience, Vengsarkar has exposed differences within the Pawar group.

That came through when he quoted Manohar as saying that former BCCI president Inderjit Singh Bindra was responsible for curbing the selectors’ freedom.

“I was aghast when Mr Shashank Manohar told me over the telephone yesterday that Mr Bindra is the man behind all these happenings against the selectors...” reads part of Vengsarkar’s letter.

Things are still fluid, but former captain, selection committee chairman and cricket manager Chandu Borde appears the favourite to become Vengsarkar’s full-time successor.

Earlier, in June (after the Graham Ford fiasco), Borde had lessened the BCCI’s headache by agreeing to be cricket manager on the long tour of Ireland, Scotland and England.

Aunshuman Gaekwad’s name is also doing the rounds. He’s a former opener, coach and selector.

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