One positive step with a big apology

Written by: S K Sham
Published: Monday, September 4, 2000, 17:00 [IST]
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Just one positive step at last, but after so much of evasion and not a little prevarication. That is how one ought to look at the act of dropping of the four tainted cricketers, Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja, Nayan Mongia and Nikhil Chopra, from the list of 23 probables for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Knock Out tournament in Kenya next month.

Even as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jaywant Lele read out the list, the chairman of the selection committee, Chandu Borde, was quick to add that"no one from the BCCI had given us any instructions whether or not to leave out certain players".

This is one more of the many unconvincing tales that we have been hearing for the last four months. Only the very naive would believe that the selection committee acted on its own, when all along the BCCI had been holding steadfast to the line"all players are innocent unless they are proved guilty".

They have not yet been proved guilty, through any process of law, nor have they had any prima facie cases filed against them as yet. So why leave them out?

The fact of the matter is that the BCCI president, Dr Annamalai Chidambaram Muthiah did brief the chairman of the selection committee on Saturday morning, along with the other selectors. The names of three players, (Azharuddin, Jadeja, Chopra), whose houses were raided by the Income Tax authorities, and have had dossiers prepared on them, did figure in the talks. The rest is for you to surmise.

Why this sudden change in the original stand of the BCCI? There is no doubt that the threat held out by Sports Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa to the BCCI officials on several issues of non-co-operation on their part, did loom large, as a sword of Damocles on their heads. As he had done in the case of the Toronto series against Pakistan, Dhindsa would have held back permission to the Indian team to play in Kenya as well.

The ban imposed by the United Cricket Board of South Africa on Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams could not have come a day too soon for the BCCI officials to realise where they stand in the eyes of the public. There hasn't been any investigation nor a trial so far against the two South African players, whose names were mentioned by Hansie Cronje. Yet the UCBSA acted swiftly because these players' names were tainted.

The issue of the omission of the four players, over which the selection committee took a good part of the near four-hour meeting, also indicates that there is a split in the top hierarchy of the BCCI. One body of opinion felt that no player whose name appears in the scandal should be dropped. This, they believe, wouldamount to a surrender to the government, which has no right to interfere in the working of the BCCI.

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