Harmanpreet and Smriti refute Mithali, endorse coach Ramesh

Unlike the men in 2017, top women players stand up for head coach

By Lokendra Pratap Sahi in Mumbai
  • Published 4.12.18, 3:22 AM
  • Updated 4.12.18, 9:04 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Ramesh Powar Telegraph file picture

Sadly, the Great Divide, which was only being hinted at over the past 10 days, is out in the open.

In fact, now, those who chose to leak ODI captain Mithali Raj’s email (which some even then believed was motivated) to Board of Control for Cricket in India CEO Rahul Johri and GM Syed Saba Karim, must be regretting having done so.

That one move, after all, set off a chain reaction which doesn’t show our cricket in dazzling light.

As no more than three individuals were involved in that Mithali episode, one or more from among them leaked the email.

Last Tuesday’s leak was countered by Ramesh Powar’s detailed response, which hurt Mithali’s image as an icon.

Powar’s tenure as head coach of the women’s team ended last Friday. He’s a former India off spinner.

On Monday, The Telegraph accessed T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur Bhullar and vice-captain Smriti Mandhana’s emails.

In separate emails to the two Supreme Court-appointed Administrators of the Board and the three office-bearers, Harmanpreet and Smriti have exposed Mithali as a trouble-maker with scant concern for the all-important team spirit.

Mithali, who’d been vicious in hurling accusations at Powar and Administrator Diana Edulji, has actually cut a sorry figure.

A clear winner (if there can be one in such cases, that is) is Powar. Harmanpreet has specifically appealed that his services be continued with, while Smriti has also said as much.

Harmanpreet and Smriti’s emails were sent to Administrators Vinod Rai and Diana, besides Board’s acting president Chandra Kishore Khanna, acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary and the treasurer — Anirudh Chaudhry.

Copies were marked to others as well. Notably Saba Karim, who oversees women’s cricket.

While Harmanpreet made “Humble Request” her subject line, Smriti preferred “Sincere Plea.”

Whatever the subject line, the message couldn’t have been conveyed any better.

Harmanpreet and Smriti largely raised three issues either directly/indirectly:

  • That Powar had changed the thinking of the team and been a hugely positive influence. Mithali felt he had nothing to offer and, instead, played games.
  • That Powar and Diana couldn’t have been seeking to destroy Mithali’s career as decisions on the playing XIs during the recent World T20 weren’t unilaterally taken by the head coach. Moreover, decisions were unanimous.
  • That if Mithali and Powar had issues between the two of them, they should resolve them across the table. That the larger picture be kept in mind.

The Board has sought applications for the head coach’s position, but Harmanpreet and Smriti, two of the most exciting players in the sport at this point in time, have made their position clear.

Mithali’s had been exactly the opposite.

It would be a disaster if Rai, Johri and Saba Karim did anything contrary to the ‘majority’ view. Either to assert their so-called importance or to hit back at X or Y.

The Board must now take off the advertisement, seeking applications, from its website.

Shockingly, nobody stood up for men’s head coach Anil Kumble, a legend, in June 2017. However, just look at Harmanpreet and Smriti. They have set an example by being so glowing in their praise of Powar, despite Mithali’s opinion.

Kumble was allowed to be humiliated, as (superstar) captain Virat Kohli had issues with him. In this case, even if Powar doesn’t get a fresh contract, he’ll move ahead in life with the ‘Excellent’ certificate from Harmanpreet and Smriti.