Ranji Trophy 2015-16 September 25, 2015

Have not seen a worse time than this - Bhatia

ESPNcricinfo staff

Allrounder Rajat Bhatia, who was left out of the Delhi squad for their Ranji Trophy opening game against Rajasthan, has said that he has not seen "a worse time [in Delhi cricket] than this".

The decision to exclude Bhatia, who has represented Delhi for nearly a decade, was taken at a selection meeting on Wednesday, after three different factions were asked to report to the preparatory camp by three factions in the Delhi and District Cricket Association. The preliminary nets held earlier in the week were a shambles, according to reports, with no one to coordinate what was going on. Reports suggested that the pitches were wet, basic facilities were missing and there weren't enough cricket balls for players to practise with.

"I turned up at the nets on Thursday only to find out that hardly anything was in place a week before the first Ranji game," Bhatia told PTI. "There were not enough balls to practise with and something as basic as drinking water was also hard to find. And then later in the day, I found out that I was dropped from the team. I have not seen a worse time than this."

He also stated that it would be "impossible" for young players to remain unaffected by the controversies in the build-up to the domestic season: "The preparation as I see has been far from ideal. It is impossible for the young players not to be affected by the happenings of the DDCA."

Bhatia has been a vital allrounder for Delhi, scoring 4666 runs and taking 96 wickets in 81 matches. There were rumours of disagreement between him and captain Gautam Gambhir but sources inside the DDCA said that his exclusion had nothing to do with it. Bhatia, however, stated that he would keep training and believed that he still had some cricket left in him.

"As far as Gautam is concerned, I can only wish him all the best for the season," Bhatia said. "If he thinks I don't fit in the team anymore, then so be it. It is not the end of the road for me. I will continue training. I have just come from England where I spent three months playing club cricket. I still have a few years left in me."

Bhatia felt he could have planned his season had the DDCA given him prior notice about the exclusion: "It would have been better had the DDCA informed me earlier. That way I could have planned my future. I am a player and my job is to play for whichever team I can. I don't think I can play for any other state this season.

Fast bowler Ishant Sharma was also left out of the squad because he didn't answer to DDCA's call or text, but was selected for the first game a day later. Ishant, though, had communicated his availability for the second match only. Earlier, there was no clarity on whether Gautam Gambhir or Unmukt Chand would lead the side. Senior players like Virender Sehwag and Mithun Manhas had transferred to other teams ahead of the season.

"Greats like Bishan Bedi and Madan Lal tried their best to improve the functioning of DDCA but even they could not do much," Bhatia said. "If senior players like Virender Sehwag and Mithun Manhas have decided to play for other teams, you can imagine what the state of affairs are in DDCA. Having said that, thing can only go up from here and I still hope that things change."

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