National selector (North Zone) selector Vikram Rathour has informed the office of the Ombudsman of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that he holds a British passport as well as an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card.
Rathour’s reply, a copy of which is with Sportstar , has reference to the conflict of allegation made by Mumbai-based activist Niraj Gunde, who had questioned Rathour’s loyalty to India and Indian cricket.
“…I retired in 2003 and as I wanted a break from cricket for a few years before I got back into the game in some other capacity, I decided to get involved in our family business. I had an opportunity to move to United Kingdom to look after the marketing for one of our export units. I lived in England for seven years.
“During this period, I got entitled for British citizenship and received my British passport in May 2010. Due to some adverse business developments and my keenness to return to cricket as a coach, I moved back to India in 2010.
“I was fortunate to get a job as assistant coach of Kings XI Punjab and later I coached the Punjab Ranji Trophy team as well. I currently hold an OCI card in India… The only restriction on me job wise, as an OCI cardholder, is I can’t take up a government job… As per my understanding to do this job (that of a selector) well, one needs an extensive knowledge of Indian cricket and also have an eye to pick talent.
“I have been involved in Indian cricket for more than 25 years as a player, a captain and later as a coach. I have performed my duties in the different jobs with utmost sincerity and integrity. These were the reasons I believe for which I was given this job.
“The BCCI has, for many years now, appointed foreign nationals as coaches, trainers, physiotherapists and academy directors… They did not have any conflict of interest when working even while the Indian team was playing against their own country. In my humble response, I wish to state that my integrity, honesty and my commitment to Indian cricket has never been compromised just because I hold a British passport.
“To conclude sir, there is no rule, which bars me from working, being an OCI card holder, for any non-government organisation / company or anything in BCCI’s constitution which requires a person to be an Indian passport holder to work as a selector.”
Gunde hit back, saying “…It is a question of identity and loyalty and where it lies — whether to the Queen of England and Wales or to the Republic of India. There is no similarity between coaches and trainers on the one hand who are not Indian citizens and the selector of the national team.
“His position demands that it is filled by a person having only national interest at heart. It may be a paying job today but the fact is that there is no position of selector anywhere in world cricket that is more prestigious and powerful than the position enjoyed by Shri Rathour, a British national.
“The selectors of the BCCI senior men’s team are not chosen to fit the pay packet unlike coaches or trainers. It is much more than that. Seen in the right context, he ought to be relieved of his position immediately notwithstanding the fact that he may have once played for India.
“I may also invite your kind attention to the fact that nowhere in world cricket is a selector of the national team of foreign citizenship. We need not have any rule which expressly prescribes a bar since the conflict of interest is so apparent.”