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Zaheer backs Agarkar but draws selector's flak

Nagraj Gollapudi

November 30, 2011

Comments: 52 | Text size: A | A

Ajit Agarkar gets an early wicket for Mumbai, Karnataka v Mumbai, Ranji Trophy final, Mysore, 3rd day, January 13, 2010
The dropping of Ajit Agarkar is snowballing into a larger issue © Sportz Solutions
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Ajit Agarkar's decision to return home from Cuttack after being dropped by Mumbai for the Ranji Trophy match against Orissa has spun off a separate controversy, with his team-mate Zaheer Khan defending him and in turn being criticised by Milind Rege, Mumbai's chairman of selectors.

Zaheer had said Rege and Sulakshan Kulkarni, the Mumbai coach, could have handled the situation with better "communication" and that there was no need to "humiliate" Agarkar.

"I am not the kind of person to say all this, but I just feel that people like Rege and Sulakshan are actually pulling Mumbai cricket back," Zaheer had told Mid-Day. "This is an utter disgrace. I am very disappointed and hurt by the way the whole situation has been handled. It is high time things get sorted out."

A disappointed Agarkar left Cuttack on the morning of the match despite Rege and Nitin Dalal, Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) secretary, asking him to stay with the team.

"I am very hurt," Rege told ESPNcricinfo, when asked about Zaheer's reaction. "Because if anybody questions my ability to select or my judgment, it is an opinion of the other person. But if anybody questions my integrity, I will not accept it."

Rege, a former Mumbai captain, said Zaheer should not have made a "personal attack" on him. "He is a very mild guy and I do not know what provoked him to say something so harsh. It is not fair on his part."

Agarkar said he was upset that he hadn't been informed of the team management's decision to drop him earlier, and was told of it only on the eve of the match. Zaheer supported Agarkar's decision. "A player who has done so much for the country and state, has taken over 300 international wickets, has been consistent performer and a certainty in the team at least deserves better communication and respect. There is no reason to humiliate someone who has done great service to your team."

Explaining his decision to leave the squad, Agarkar said what hurt him most was that Rege, who had helped him play for the Tatas, did not inform him in advance. Rege disagreed, saying the policy of the selection panel was clear: select the 15 and then let the captain and coach pick the final XI. "The selection committee feels the coach and the captain are the people on the job on the ground, so how can we select the team five days prior to match. The strategies are discussed in the selection committee but the final decision of whom to take or whom not to take in the XI depends on the wicket and the conditions."

Rege he had spoken to Agarkar on the morning of the game. "He was extremely upset. He was not in a frame of mind to listen. I pleaded with him, literally, to not come back and we would sort out the issue. Even Nitin Dalal tried to convince him. But he was not prepared not to listen."

Rege, however, was confident the issue could be resolved. "I will sit with Ajit and try and defuse the situation." He said Agarkar would be considered during their next selection committee meeting on Saturday to pick the squad for Mumbai's match against Saurashtra in Rajkot from December 6.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by whippingBails on (December 2, 2011, 14:31 GMT)

Why can't proper process be followed by these joker selectors or even captains. They can't have enuf guts to tell the man to his face. Call him and tell him what the decision is and why they made the decision man to man. why are they afraid. They should also tell him reasons why they are dropping and what criteria if he achieves he will get back in the teams, simple as that. Why can't the selectors have this maturity??

Posted by ultimatewarrior on (December 2, 2011, 12:30 GMT)

Everybody should respect everybody....The proper planning and process should be followed...Agarkar is a very good player and now a senior too.....Now Mumbai Cricket Board should take proper precaution in future planning and took proper preventive actions for current incident...

Posted by mithun2880 on (December 2, 2011, 7:58 GMT)

Hope Under Sulakshan, Mumbai Cricket does not go the way Team India went under Greg Chappel. Every one wants to see exciting new talents like Aavishkar Salvi, but not surely at cost of a player like Ajit Agarkar. I have grown with Aavishkar(Ricky) and want to see him bowl well like in past where he almost played Tests in Australia but for his series of injuries !!! Mr.Sulakshan Kulkarni, you need to respect a player of calibre of Agarkar with 300+ International Wickets and groom youngsters like Aavishkar Salvi n Dhawal Kulkarni under him coz there is no shortcut for experience.

Posted by Vikram_Afz on (December 2, 2011, 2:12 GMT)

Think there's more fish frying there then seems apparent. Although Rege is saying the committee hadn't taken the decision to drop Ajit before the squad left, the latter may know that they did intend that at the time. Otherwise players don't revolt so easily. But maybe it was a heat of the moment thing and Ajit probably hasn't got his facts right. Yes, there has to be a little bit of camaraderie between the Thane lads Sulakshan and Salvi where the coach, the former, was waiting to blood his 'lad'. Territoriality or what? Good point blogger 'mithun2880'.

And again, Zaheer too supporting Ajit means the case is loaded more in favour of Ajit. Then, Rege wants to defuse the situation. Maybe it's the guilt, or maybe it's just procedure.

No doubt, Ajit is a watermark of the Mumbai Ranji team and has kept himself fit and going, inspite of having no hopes of national colours again. Deserves a good deal and to be heard out.

Posted by Nampally on (December 1, 2011, 16:15 GMT)

@TRAM;You are right in summarizing your view of Employer/Employee relations.But you are forgetting that the Employee has some rights too. When he feels he is mentally so down that he is going to cause more harm than good, he is right in quitting after informing his employer his reasons. That is exactly what Agarkar did. So Agarkar's quitting is fine by modern standards. ZAK was shocked when he did not see Ajit in the line up & to hear he had left after being dropped. So his first reaction came out in the form it did. We have PR group in every Company which is responsible in treating this matter tactfully. If that was done every thing would have come out fine.Mr.Rege resorted to old fashioned dictatorial way - I am the Boss & I can kick out anyone in whatever manner I like.Agarkar is a respected International player who played for India & Mumbai & expected a decorum of courtesy - "Nazacuth". Mr. Rege's approach was brash & uncouth - bit like colonial ruler!.Hence the fuss.

Posted by crram on (December 1, 2011, 14:38 GMT)

It starts from the top of the pile. Sharad Pawar and his goons did it to Dilip Vengsarkar who though is a introvert but looks only for performance is defeated in the elections. Even Gavaskar and Shastri did not support Vengsarkar so that they will not lose freebies thrown by the politicians. Shastri is a small time crook and shame on all these people for pulling the game down to a muddle.

Posted by TRAM on (December 1, 2011, 14:15 GMT)

I hate people saying "Agarkar" or X or Y deserves better treatment. No one is superior to others. Every one deserves the SAME , GOOD treatment, one not better and another not worse. No one is indispensable. The only way Agarkar can leave the place is if he quits his job. If I am working on a site for my employer, the only way I can leave the place (against my employer's wishes) is, if I quit. The fact that Agarkar chose to leave the place means he quits. Period. Else disciplinary action should be taken. And disciplinary action should be taken on Zaheer for sure for bad-mouthing his employers. Why should these highly paid cricketers be treated in any different manner?? Because they are "stars" ?? They need to realize they are lucky to represent their state/country. There are zillions waiting in the queue for the same opportunity. There were times when great players played with no salary. Current cricketers are lucky in many ways. Take the job or leave it.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2011, 11:21 GMT)

He may be out of form, may not even deserve a place in the team..agreed. The only question is the way this was treated.. he has served the country for15 years..may not have lived upto the expectations but has won us many matches including a test match in Australia which NO other Indian fast bowler has. He could have been told earlier that he wouldn't be playing..but not one night before the match, obviously there are reasons other than cricket. I am one of his biggest fans and have always loved his gentlemanly behaviour. His reaction shows that how much this decision has hurt him. In one line, Senior cricketers may be asked to leave but there is a way of doing it respectfully! 2nd highest wicket taking fast bowler for india in one dayers! more than even zaheer..with one of the best strike rates of all time. never got his due!

Posted by Rumy1 on (December 1, 2011, 10:28 GMT)

Feel for Ajit Agarkar. It appears Sulakshan Kulkarni wanted Avishkar Salvi to play. He may have played the politics. Hope this is not true. On the flip side Ajit should rethink about his playing plans. It's time for him to give back to Mumbai cricket and make way for talented youngsters in the team. He has had a good stint. There is no way he can make a comeback to Indian team.

Posted by cricfanraj on (December 1, 2011, 9:50 GMT)

I feel for Agarkar here. Though some people acting like saints , Game is above player etc....,the reality is every senior contributer ( in any job) needs minimum respect. THere is nothing wrong in dropping a player but you need not humiliate them.This is poor way of handling seniors

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