The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cricket selectors spill player’s secret: Ten lakh for Team India slot

Calcutta, Nov. 20: Abhijit Kale, who should have been content with a solitary one-day appearance in Dhaka earlier this year, has tried to “bribe” his way back into Team India.

In the past, there have been faint whispers about inducements on the odd occasion but, surely, nothing can match the 30-year-old Maharashtra right-hander’s performance.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, Kale telephonically offered a Rs 10-lakh bribe to one of the five national selectors a few weeks ago.

Despite being rebuffed in the strongest possible manner, Kale approached another selector (with the same terms) more recently. Again, he was upbraided and the inducement spurned.

The selectors have been identified as East’s Pranab Roy and West’s Kiran More. It’s not clear, though, who received the first call.

Apparently, that selector didn’t act straightaway as he felt Kale was “misguided” and could be dealt with later. His stand hardened when he learnt one of his colleagues had been made the same offer.

After exchanging notes, both Roy and More met Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Jagmohan Dalmiya during Tuesday’s tri-series final and “briefed” him about Kale’s conduct.

Dalmiya, in his third and last year as the BCCI chief, asked them to “put everything in writing.” That both have done so was confirmed by Roy. Significantly, he declined to say anything beyond that.

“I’m not at liberty to make a comment… I’ve informed the BCCI president and it’s for him to act,” Roy, who has set an excellent example (together with More), pleaded.

Dalmiya, for his part, informed that the BCCI’s position will be announced tomorrow. Faced with a crisis without precedent, he spent much of the evening with lawyers as Kale has denied involvement.

That denial notwithstanding, a “shocked” Maharashtra Cricket Association has already begun a probe.

Actually, Dalmiya has no choice but to set up a commission of inquiry — only, it’s not clear how Kale can be prosecuted as the Rs 10 lakh bribes were verbal. And, surely, the selectors don’t record conversations.

“Eventually, it may well be Kale’s word against that of the selectors… The BCCI is bound to believe Roy and More --- after all, they have come forth as men of utmost integrity… But the verbal bit probably allows the batsman an escape route,” is how one of the sources put it.

It’s to be seen how the BCCI responds — and act it must —but Roy and More have sent a clear message: Don’t even think of tempting anybody on the selection committee.

Incidentally, an incredulous Team India captain Sourav Ganguly had this to tell mediapersons at the airport (on his way back from Mumbai after a day-long shoot): “Do these things happen' This must be the biggest nonsense in Indian cricket….”

Sourav and Co. leave for Australia tomorrow. It won’t surprise if they are welcomed with a string of uncomfortable questions.

After all, the Australian media has got a nice stick to beat the Indians with and poor Sourav will be at the receiving end for no fault of his.

Unbelievably, even in 2003, we can be saddled with such foolish individuals as Kale.

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