Is Dungarpur exceeding his brief?

Written by: S K Sham
Published: Monday, December 25, 2000, 16:30 [IST]
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The face-off between Sunil Gavaskar, arguably one of the greatest openers the game has seen, and a passionate, but by no means a fair, supporter of the game, Raj Singh Dungarpur, cannot just be dismissed as a mere clash of egos. There is undoubtedly more to it than meets the eye.

Differences between the two have been brewing for some time now and what happened last Friday, at the Cricket Club of India, was an ultimate showdown that had to inevitably come one day.

Dr A C Muthiah's tenure as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president so far, has had more than its share of controversies. He has had many-a-battle on his hands, from both within and without his organisation. The ordeal does not seem to have ended yet, certainly not by a long chalk.

He was a mere spectator the other day at the core committee meeting of the BCCI in Mumbai, as, at the very outset, Gavaskar and Dungarpur got into a heated exchange. The former India captain, after flinging his letter of resignation from the National Cricket Academy at its chairman, walked out in a huff.

Ever since Gavaskar had criticised the BCCI for allotting a three-day fixture against the touring Zimbabwe team to National Cricket Academy (NCA), Raj Singh has been making public statements, never losing an opportunity to be critical of so many, including the members of the print media. His main target, however, has been Gavaskar.

Just a day before the core committee meeting, Dungarpur had, in an interview to a Mumbai tabloid, said "Gavaskar should resign from the NCA for his criticism of the institute".

It may be recalled that the National Cricket Academy is Dungarpur's pet project and he had been given a free hand to set it up and make all the appointments. Although he had Gavaskar as one of its advisors, not many agreed with his choice of other personnel, including chief coach Hanumant Singh and his deputy Vasu Paranjpe, both of whom are over 60.

Now, Dungarpur has appointed former Australian Test player and coach Geoff Marsh as the chief coach on a fabulous salary and perks. Gavaskar who has persistently followed a belief that our own Indian coaches are good enough and there is no need for a foreign coach, either for the Indian team, or the Academy. This is one more issue on which Dungarpur was bugged.

Of late, far too much importance has been given by the coterie within the BCCI to Raj Singh. The ex-president does not hold any office and yet makes all kinds of statements on behalf of the cricket body.

It may be recalled that it was he, along with vice-president Kamal Morarka, who had stalled the decision to take punitive action against the cricketers named in the CBI report. It speaks volumes for his qualities of boldness and individuality that the president Dr A C Muthiah finally did announce the penalties on the players.

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