The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kapil catches Sunny’s sonny

Sept. 11: Sunil Gavaskar has lost his son to Kapil Dev.

Rohan Gavaskar has signed up with the Kapil-led Indian Cricket League just when the board had pitted his father against his great rival in Indian cricket’s biggest turf battle.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has entrusted Sunil to format its own league that would have challenged the rebel league. Even before those plans had got off the ground, Rohan, 31, became the seventh Bengal cricketer to join the ICL.

“I signed the papers recently. The main reason is, it would give me a chance to compete with international players again,” Rohan, who has played 11 ODIs, told The Telegraph.

He said he spoke to Sunil before and after the decision. “Obviously I spoke to dad. Like always he made me aware of the pros and cons and told me the decision was mine.”

Sunil, nominated to head the BCCI’s planned league by board chief Sharad Pawar, is reportedly not getting along well with vice-president Lalit Modi.

Just four days ago, Kapil appeared to be extending the olive branch to Sunil, who also happens to be the BCCI’s technical committee chairman.

“They wanted to push Sunil Gavaskar against me. Boss, why not get Gavaskar as the board CEO' Do not look (at) Gavaskar only as a batting consultant,” Kapil said.

Rohan explained his decision on cricketing grounds. “The selectors are focused on the younger players, and however well you perform in the domestic circuit, your chances are slim,” he said. “The selectors tend to look at players who are in their early 20s. Money was not the primary reason.”

Rohan, who has captained Bengal, averages 18 in ODIs with a highest score of 54. In 114 first-class matches, the left-hander has 6,829 runs at 44, with his spin bowling earning him 37 wickets at 50 each.

Yet he is in some ways a bigger catch for the ICL than Brian Lara, uniting under its banner two of Indian cricket’s biggest names.

Sunil and Kapil had fought a long ego battle during their playing days. Sunil was pelted with oranges at Eden Gardens — Rohan’s home ground till now — for dropping the Haryana all-rounder.

Since then, board politics has played them against each other. Pawar last year sacked Sunil as chairman of the National Cricket Academy — a post to which he had been appointed by Jagmohan Dalmiya — replacing him with Kapil. Last month, he sacked Kapil, too, as punishment for joining the ICL.

Board officials sympathised with Rohan. “At 31, he doesn’t have many years left. He hasn’t produced exceptional cricket and so despite his father’s clout could not make it big in Indian cricket. The choice is understandable,” a board official said.

“I’m sad for Bengal… I’ve been part of the side for the last 12 years. That was one of the reasons why it took so long for me to decide. It was a tough decision,” Rohan said.

The rebel league announced that former Test cricketer Roger Binny’s 23-year-old son Stuart, a Karnataka Ranji player, too, had signed up.

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