Indian domestic news August 18, 2009

Sehwag denies influencing Delhi selection

Cricinfo staff

Virender Sehwag has denied allegations by Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) officials that he tried to get his cousin picked in the Ranji team.

"This [charge] is totally false," Sehwag told the Times of India. "I have never asked anyone to pick any of my brothers or cousins in any team. Just ask Chetan Chauhan - because he was the chairman of the selection committee - if Viru has ever asked for any of his cousins to be selected."

Sehwag is reported to be seeking a move from Delhi, the state he has represented since 1998, to Haryana from the 2009-10 season onwards, citing interference in selection matters.

Other senior Delhi players backed Sehwag's claims about the DDCA's selection procedures. Gautam Gambhir, Sehwag's opening partner for Delhi and India, said there was a need to bring transparency into selection and he threatened to leave Delhi this year unless the situation improved. "The solution is to dissolve the sports committee, which doesn't have a single cricketer in it," Gambhir told the Indian Express. "Sehwag and I have been at the receiving end of pressure tactics by the DDCA to push in their candidates. If we can be pushed into a corner, imagine the plight of a stand-in skipper."

Ashish Nehra, the Delhi left-arm fast bowler, said that this was the DDCA's last chance to clean up their act. "The manner in which the DDCA functions, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to leave Delhi," Nehra said. "For two years, when I was injured, I didn't hear one word from anyone, and the moment I made my comeback, they are all looking to cash in on me." Ishant Sharma also said things could be better.

Chauhan backed Sehwag's claim and said it was a "wake-up call for Delhi cricket". "I am glad Sehwag has made a bold move by speaking out against corruption." However Chauhan was confident a solution could be reached without losing Sehwag. "We'll try to make the selection process transparent. I get calls all the time where politicians and bureaucrats try to push their players up for selection. I'm sure we can work out a solution. We can't let go of him [Sehwag]."

Sehwag said often four selectors got together to vote for their player, leaving him and the chairman of selectors powerless in the matter.

If Sehwag does leave, it won't be the first time a player from Delhi has done so. Indian legspinner Amit Mishra moved to Haryana after he was left out of Delhi's Under-17 squad in 2000. More recently, India Under-19 player Manan Sharma made a similar move, saying he hadn't got the chances he deserved. "There were many who didn't do enough or lacked merit but got their chances, so I thought it was better to leave," Sharma told the Indian Express. "I didn't like the atmosphere, there was just too much going on around."