December 23, 2000

Raj singh is nothing without his chair: Gavaskar

Former India cricket captain and batting legend Sunil Gavaskar today resigned as a member and adviser of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) after a tiff with its chairman Raj Singh Dungarpur in Mumbai.

The differences cropped up between the two over Gavaskar's column in a tabloid recently where the former skipper had said that the NCA team should not have got a three-day game against the visiting Zimbabweans at Indore in their tour opener.

Reacting to Gavaskar's statement, Dungarpur said in an interview to the same tabloid, published yesterday, that "one gentleman being a member of NCA said the Academy boys should not have been given a game against Zimbabwe. Such people should either resign from the committee, or take it on, or fall in line. You can't run with the hares and hunt with the hounds at the same time," he had said.

"After reading this interview, Gavaskar came over to the Cricket Club of India (CCI) where the NCA committee was meeting and handed over his resignation," an NCA member said.

Dungarpur and Gavaskar were clearly at loggerheads over what the latter had written in his column and the former BCCI president openly asked for Gavaskar to resign.

Dungarpur furiously said, "No man, let it be Sunil Gavaskar or Kapil Dev or Raj Singh Dungarpur can make a comment on the working of the NCA." He added, "I am firm on the decision and the NCA will take up the matter to accept his resignation letter at the working committee meeting."

Commenting on Gavaskar's role and his tenure at the NCA, Dungarpur added, "Gavaskar did a good job for the academy and did not even take the monitory coaching fees for his services."

On the issue of Arjuna Awards being taken away from the tainted cricketers. Raj Singh replied "I got a first class percentage in my tenth standard and got caught for cheating in my exams for the BA degree. Should my tenth standard results be taken away from me?"

Gavaskar on the other hand justified his comments in his column saying, "I was not critical in my article. It was more of a thought provoking idea than a critical comment. I read an article in the newspapers where it was mentioned that I had been critical towards the working of the NCA. I questioned Mr Dungarpur on the matter stating that my comment was a mere observation and not a decision criticising the NCA."

Defending his stance, Gavaskar said "I thought it was unfair on the performers who were not given a chance to play first class matches against touring sides. So it was more in the nature of a suggestion. I was asked to submit my resignation which I did."

Gavaskar added that Dungarpur had confessed to being a failure in his tenure with the BCCI. "I questioned Mr. Dungarpur on his critical comments on the working of the Board, if I was asked to resign due to a critical comment on the NCA, he should also resign for his critical comments. There cannot be two yardsticks for two different people. He will not resign from the post because he is nothing without his chair."

Gavaskar made it clear that he would not be associated with the working of the NCA henceforward. "I cannot see myself in the NCA in the future. I have played for my country with pride and dignity and after such an episode I cannot see myself working under the same circumstances"

Gavaskar played with his trademark straight bat to the bouncers hurled at him by reporters who mobbed him. He took the opportunity to speak to the world through the internet, "Happy New year and may the new year be better than the last one."