Controversy-ridden season continues February 16, 2006

Delhi selection panel sacked

Cricinfo staff

A controversy-riddled season for Delhi took a new turn yesterday when Arun Jaitley, the President of Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), sacked the senior selection committee and appointed a new one for the remainder of the domestic season.

The DDCA resolution said: "In view of the fact that some recent decisions of the selection committee of the Ranji Trophy lack the appearance of fairness and are not being taken on cricketing considerations alone, the Executive Committee hereby decides to supersede and dissolve the selection committee with immediate effect."

The committee comprising Vivek Razdan, Bantu Singh and Sunil Khanna, with Anil Jain as its convenor, was shown the door after Delhi barely managed to avoid relegation from the Ranji Trophy Elite Group and started disastrously in the domestic one-day competition. Maninder Singh Jaggi, the assistant coach, was also shown the door.

The new committee has Chetan Chauhan, the former Test player, as its chairman along with Surender Khanna and Vinay Lamba. Sunil Dev has been appointed its convenor, a senior DDCA official said. At its first meeting on Wednesday, the new committee made two changes to the side that suffered a debacle against Himachal Pradesh by replacing Yogesh Sachdeva, the offspinner, and batsman Gaurav Chhabra with Kuldeep Rawat, the allrounder, and offspinner Victor Wilkins.

Jaitely was reportedly enraged at the way in which the selectors included Navdeep Tomar as the 16th member of the squad for the last two matches. Speaking to the Hindu Sneh Bansal, the DDCA general secretary, said, "The name was added without permission of the Executive Committee and the player was from outside the 21 picked for the season. This was the reason for this unprecedented action."

It has been a winter of troubles for Delhi. Mithun Manhas had declined to lead the team against Punjab and Aakash Chopra took charge. Delhi went on to lose that match and things started on a downward spiral. In a manner that would have rivalled any Bollywood plot, the selectors were reportedly threatened by the supporters of Tomar, which had the selectors scampering for police security.

Manhas and Chopra both refused to lead the team and Manhas relented only after Jaitley had a talk with him on the issue. However, Delhi subsequently suffered a humiliating 141-run defeat against a lowly-placed Himachal Pradesh. Under pressure and allegedly facing threats the selectors picked Tomar again, including him in the list of 16 that was sent to Jaitley.

"We had told the selectors not to yield to outside pressure. We were concerned at the happenings and were convinced that Delhi cricket's interest was not protected. We pledge to improve the image of Delhi cricket. We are aware of wrong doings in the junior teams too but will need time to cleanse the system. A beginning has been made," Chauhan said.