Decision highlights problems in Mumbai payment policy July 27, 2006

Bahutule decides to remain with Maharashtra

Cricinfo staff

Sairaj Bahutule has decided not to return to Mumbai © AFP

After publicly declaring his intentions to return to the city of his birth, Sairaj Bahutule, the former Mumbai legspinner, has decided to remain with his adopted Maharashtra. After irking the authorities in Maharashtra, Bahutule's flip-flopping over priorities has now flumoxxed the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) amid rumours of a pay dispute.

Having represented Mumbai since the start of his first-class career, Bahutule, 33, made the move to the Maharashtra side last season. At a session on July 14, the MCA managing committee had approved Bahutule's reinduction into the Mumbai team. However, a meeting between Bahutule and Ajay Shirke, the Maharashtra board chief, in England settled the decision.

Ratnakar Shetty, the MCA's treasurer and former secretary, expressed his displeasure at the communication gap - "He [Bahutule] hasn't spoken or sent an email to me as yet," he told The Times of India - while Milind Rege, the chairman of selectors, added: "Bahutule is a confused man. His indecisiveness is surprising."

Bahutule, who played two Tests and eight one-day internationals for India, was apologetic about the fiasco. "I am in the process of sending the emails to other MCA officials," he explained. "I understand their anger and will speak to those concerned and explain to them the reasons that forced me to take this step."

Bahutule's staying away from Mumbai is another indication of the problems the MCA faces. In the last two years, Mumbai has also lost the services of Chandrakant Pandit and Karsan Ghavri, two prominent and successful coaches. While Ghavri turned down the MCA's offer to coach Mumbai in favour of a move to Tripura, Pandit took over the mantle for the Maharashtra side. Speculation is rife that monetary matters dictated Bahutule's choice. Cricketers in Mumbai are restricted to payments fixed by the BCCI on first-class terms as well as certain portions of sponsorship revenue, whereas in other state associations top players are put on separate contract amounts.

Ajit Wadekar, the former Mumbai and Indian captain, urged the MCA to match the efforts of other boards. "We have to move with the times," he told Mid-Day, a Mumbai-based tabloid. "It is not wise to rest on old laurels and glory. We should be able to match the players' payments. In Sairaj's case there is some misunderstanding and proper communication could have solved it."

Ravi Sawant, the MCA vice-president, said that efforts would be taken to prevent further such issues. "I will be proposing that henceforth any player from another state who wants to play for Mumbai should first get a no-objection certificate from the association."