Calcutta, Dec.15: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, Sharad Pawar, took at least 30 hours to initiate a damage-control exercise on the Sourav Ganguly front.
Even when he did, this evening, the high-profile Union minister made a distinction between being a fan and heading arguably the world’s richest cricket body.
“As a cricket lover I’m hurt and shocked over the exclusion of Sourav.' In the Delhi Test, his performance was satisfactory. Also, he was a victorious captain and we feel proud about him,” Pawar told newspersons in New Delhi.
Late at night, after a cabinet meeting, Pawar went a step further. He indicated he would meet chief selector Kiran More and his colleagues in the next “two-three days”.
That interaction will be limited to understanding what led to the former captain’s unanimous ouster.
Not wanting to be caught on the wrong foot, Pawar emphasised there would be “no interference” in matters of selection.
He reiterated that intra-BCCI politics didn’t play a role in Sourav being dropped.
Pawar reacted only after his group (which wrested power less than three weeks ago) realised too much negative publicity would hurt him, not just More and some others.
According to key backer Inderjit Singh Bindra, a former president, Pawar learnt of the selectors’ decision via the TV after reaching home (from Parliament) around 7 pm yesterday.
“Mr Pawar called me and wanted to know whether teams had to be cleared by the president. In my time, that used to be the practice, but a study of the Memorandum, Rules and Regulations of the BCCI revealed clearance was only needed before overseas tours. I conveyed that to Mr Pawar,” he pointed out.
Speaking to The Telegraph while preparing to board a flight out of Mumbai, Bindra added: “The Sourav issue ought to have been handled with tact and finesse. His contribution has been great and he deserves to be treated properly'.”
Bindra felt the rules (specifically 14-V) had been “amended” after his presidentship ended in 1997.
One assumes Pawar didn’t bother about the clearance bit when the selectors retained the first Test 15 for Kotla ' selection No. 1 in his regime ' as no controversy erupted.
The question is: Had the earlier practice been in vogue, would he have directed More and Co. to reconsider Sourav’s case, particularly as he has himself been “hurt and shocked”'
Pawar alone can answer.
Whether the sentiments actually translate into something of consequence is going to be known on December 21/22 if the selectors don’t have Sourav in their squad for Pakistan.
Incidentally, over 15 years ago, B.N. Dutt had intervened to ensure Kapil Dev didn’t miss the trip to New Zealand ' Mohammed Azharuddin’s first assignment as captain.
“I did what was proper,” he recalled.