Confusion over identity of replacement September 4, 2004

Tendulkar out of Champions Trophy

Tennis elbow has kept Tendulkar out of two series already, and it has now affected him for the third time © AFP

Sachin Tendulkar has been ruled out of the ICC Champions Trophy after his tennis elbow failed to respond in time to treatment. Rohan Gavaskar, who is currently in the squad that is playing the NatWest Challenge against England, has been named as his replacement. But, it is learned that Dinesh Mongia, who has been playing for Lancashire in the County Championship, was the first choice of the selectors, but they were overruled by the office of Jagmohan Dalmiya, the board president.

Andrew Leipus, the physio, told Gautam Dasgupta, the manager, that Tendulkar's elbow had not responded as they hoped it would, and that he would not be able to play for another two weeks. This was then conveyed to the Board of Control for Cricket in India, and the team sought a replacement.

It is learned that the selectors, led by Syed Kirmani, initially chose Mongia, who is already in England. The decision was conveyed to him by telephone, and he was asked to join the team at their London hotel on September 6. Minutes later, however, the decision of the selectors was overruled, reportedly by the board president's office in Kolkata. Mongia was then telephoned once more and told that there was a mistake and that he was not to join the Indian team after all.

When Wisden Cricinfo tried to reach Mongia soon after, his mobile phone rang constantly, and calls were diverted to a voicemail box.

One possible reason for the confusion is that Mongia could have been put on standby for the NatWest Challenge. India have a 15-man squad for the tournament, while the ICC regulations only permit a 14-man squad for the Champions Trophy. One media report quoted SK Nair, the board secretary, as having told Mongia to be "ready" in case he was needed.

Professor Ratnakar Shetty, joint secretary of the board, told Wisden Cricinfo: "The team management informed me of Tendulkar's unavailability and sought a replacement. I then contacted Syed Kirmani and his colleagues and they informed me that Rohan Gavaskar was selected as the replacement. I have conveyed this to the team."

Mongia, who is currently playing for Lancashire in the County Championship, originally went to England to play for Little Stoke in the Staffordshire league. A string of good performances then led to him being chosen by Lancashire as cover for Carl Hooper. Mongia, who was voted player of the month by Lancashire supporters, has scored over 500 runs at an average of 80 for his county.

Gavaskar, on the other hand, has done nothing spectacular in the last few matches to further his cause. Since scoring 54 against Zimbabwe in a one-day game at Adelaide, Gavaskar has played five more matches, scoring 58 runs at an average of 11.6.

Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo.