The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) is once again in the news for all wrong reasons as senior and U-25 men’s selector Mayank Sidana staged a walkout from a selection meeting after a fallout with the chairman of selectors Gagan Khoda and secretary Siddharth Sahib Singh.
If that is not enough, Delhi head coach Abhay Sharma’s role in promoting specialist middle-order batter Ayush Badoni to open on his Ranji Trophy debut on a damp track against a domestic doyen like Jaydev Unadkat is also under the scanner.
The 19-strong Delhi squad has two specialist openers -- Vaibhav Sharma and Salil Malhotra -- who are currently sitting in the team hotel as BCCI rule doesn’t allow more than 15 players to be present in the dressing room.
The senior Delhi team was on the verge of getting bowled out for less than 20 against Saurashtra at Rajkot before managing 133, with Jaydev Unadkat getting 8 /39, including a record first-over hat-trick.
Khoda, a former national selector and secretary Verma, who himself is a former first-class player, made counter-allegations that Sidana was trying to “push dubious candidates” for the U-25 team that will play the CK Nayudu Trophy.
On Wednesday, there was a meeting to select the Delhi U-25 team by DDCA’s senior selection committee, and Sidana walked out of the meeting without signing the squad sheet.
“Yes, I protested on certain selections by chairman Gagan Khoda and another selector Anil Bhardwaj. Even secretary Siddharth Verma didn’t pay heed to my objections. So I didn’t sign the team sheet and walked out. Everything is recorded on camera,” Sidana, who has played 30 first-class, 33 List A and 22 T20 games for Punjab, told PTI.
When asked what was the bone of contention, Sidana said, “Mr Khoda didn’t watch any of the U-25 trial games and the other selector Mr Bhardwaj only wants one player in the team, Vikas Solanki.
“My contention was his performance when given a chance earlier in BCCI (U-25) tournaments hasn’t been great but they insisted on going by trial game results. I can’t support unfair practices.” When Khoda, who played a couple of ODIs for India back in 1998, was asked about Sidana’s allegations, he was miffed.
“I have played enough cricket and also been a national selector. I don’t wish to demean myself reacting to Sidana’s allegations. I will not say a word. You can go and ask him why did he walk out of the meeting,” Khoda said.
But Khoda didn’t have a convincing answer when asked why Badoni was made to open on a difficult track when they sent two specialist openers, who are not even in the 15.
“Look, we select a team and the coach selects the playing XI. We don’t interfere,” Khoda said.
When DDCA secretary Verma was contacted, he said that there hasn’t been any wrong selections.
“Mayank Sidana wanted a player named Gagan Vats. Vats, we can show score sheets that Solanki scored more in trial games. It was really unfortunate that he didn’t sign the squad sheet,” Verma, son of former Delhi CM late Sahib Singh Verma and younger brother of BJP MP Pravesh Verma, said.
The other allegation that has been levelled against Verma is that he didn’t allow former India pacer and U-25 coach Pankaj Singh to join the selection meeting physically.
“He wasn’t allowed in the meeting as he didn’t have secretary’s approval to attend the discussions physically. This is despite the fact that as a coach, his inputs were necessary,” a DDCA official told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
Verma, who has played Ranji Trophy for Delhi and Railways, defended the move.
“We patched a call with Pankaj and sought his views,” he said.
However, the DDCA secretary didn’t have an answer to some of the questionable calls taken by the Ranji team head coach.
Why are Vaibhav and Salil sitting in the team hotel when both have opened for Delhi in U-19s and U-25s? How come Himmat Singh, who recently was in India’s Emerging squad and vice-captain till the last game, get dropped? Why is Delhi playing with only two specialist bowlers? There are too many questions that begs for answers.