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Row over ACA probe into Ranji show

Guwahati, Jan. 17: The Assam Cricket Association’s move to institute a probe into the Ranji team’s dismal performance in the recent group C league has stirred a hornet’s nest again.

The selectors have taken offence at the ACA going to the media with a statement that the captain, coaches, manager and the selectors have been asked to explain the reasons for the poor show.

A section of cricket followers in the state has also raised eyebrows, wondering if the ACA was doubting anyone’s integrity.

The selectors have also resolved not to discharge their duty during the trials for the Vijay Hazare Trophy limited-over tournament trials to be held shortly.

“We have not received any official communication from the ACA in this regard. We have come to know of such a step only through the media. I have personally taken the matter up with the ACA and requested the authorities concerned to issue a clarification, without which it would not be ethically right for us to select a team for the limited overs tournament,” chief selector Bimal Bharali told The Telegraph.

“We are not with the ACA for any personal gain but only to help the state association develop cricket. It is humiliating for us if we have to explain the team’s failure and face a probe,” he added.

Another selector, Nagesh Singh, who is being accused of embarrassing the ACA by pointing out the poor bench strength in the state in a recent seminar, expressed similar views.

“The ACA’s step is unwarranted and going to the press about an internal matter is quite shocking,” he said. Standing by his view of the bench strength, Singh said: “It is a fact, which everyone is aware of. One should take it positively and work unitedly towards strengthening the bench so that we can overcome the perennial problem.”

Singh rubbished the alleged conflict between the selectors and the team management over selection of playing XI.

“The only matter, which has been blown out of proportion, is our query to the coaches about sending in (wicketkeeper) Kunal Saikia to open in the second innings against Goa in Guwahati for which they gave us a satisfactory explanation,” he said.

A section of former players has taken up a different view of the issue.

“Is the ACA having any doubt about the integrity of anyone concerned? Is it suspecting any kind of foul play, including match-fixing? If so, the ACA should come forward with a more transparent approach and take appropriate action,” said former first class player Devajit Saikia.

Another former player, however, went on to question the competency of the nine-member probe panel constituted by the ACA.

“There are people in the inquiry committee who hardly follow the state of affairs in Assam’s cricket. Some of them were never seen on the ground during any of four home matches, forget about the away ones,” alleged the veteran player who wished anonymity.