RCA, Rajasthan Royals to meet over Warne comments
The Rajasthan Cricket Association and Rajasthan Royals will meet in Mumbai on Tuesday in a move prompted by the BCCI to find a solution to their public conflict that erupted after the Sawai Mansingh Stadium pitch was switched for the game against Chennai Super Kings last week. The meeting follows RCA's rejection of an apology offered by the Rajasthan franchise, with the state board also threatening further action if the matter was not resolved to its satisfaction.
Since the pitch was changed for the May 9 game, Shane Warne, captain of Rajasthan, and Sanjay Dixit, the honorary secretary of the RCA, have engaged in a war of words that has been fought, in public, private and through the media. The dispute has grown to involve Lalit Modi, who was Dixit's predecessor and opponent at RCA, and who has maintained good relations with Warne on Twitter.
In his latest salvo on the micro-blogging site, Warne posted on Sunday to ask his fans to "wait till the end of IPL and I will say everything he promised and went back on his word about to the Royals. Unfortunately it is all about Dixit ego! RR has been fantastic for RCA - it's about RR not Dixit." To which Dixit replied: "I want to hear them too. Be sure to back it up with evidence, though."
Meanwhile Modi was re-posting a number of comments from other Twitter users critical of Dixit, such as one that read: "a quick way up the ladder in BCCI, is to publicly defame @LalitKModi and everyone he knows, don't believe me ask @sanjay_dixit." The RCA secretary was quick to respond to Modi directly, writing, "Bloody fugitive. Come back to India and I will give you your just desserts."
The Twitter exchange came after the RCA complained to the BCCI and IPL that Warne reportedly abused Dixit after his team's loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore in Jaipur on Wednesday. The Times of India reported that RCA venue director Narendra Joshi had written to IPL's chief operating officer Sundar Raman, alleging that Warne had publicly abused Dixit by calling him "a liar and egoistic" and demanded action against Warne.
Rajasthan subsequently sent an email apology on May 14 to Dixit, in which the team said it would take disciplinary action against Warne, who had also apologised for "any distress caused". However, according to Dixit, the franchise has refused to say what that disciplinary action would be, something he considers unacceptable. "We asked them what action they were going to take, but they never divulged it," Dixit told ESPNcricinfo. "They are playing diversionary tactics." Rajasthan Royals did not respond to phone calls or text messages seeking comment.
Dixit said there has been no communication with the franchise since Sunday and in the wake of Rajasthan's silence, he has threatened to take further action "because we want to put an end to these kinds of incidents. We cannot have players coming and abusing senior officials just because they don't get what they want."
Warne's alleged tirade has its genesis in Dixit's refusal to have the match against Bangalore played on a different pitch to the one on which Rajasthan had lost to Chennai. The pitch for both the Chennai and Bangalore games was flat, unlike the slow and low tracks for Rajasthan's first five home games, and had a short boundary, a switch that Warne had criticised after the Chennai match, saying he had never before been told which pitch to use in the four years of the IPL
At the time, Dixit contradicted Warne, saying the BCCI has always had the final say on which pitch is to be used. "The BCCI has already clarified that the pitch comes under the purview of the pitch committee and curator. So, how could I have acceded to his demand?" Dixit told the Times of India. "His behaviour was totally unjustified and I have asked for action against him."
The BCCI ratified that in a statement after the Chennai game. "Neither of the playing teams has a choice of the wicket, on which to play the game," the statement said. "It is the curator, in consultation with the committee chairman, who prepares the wickets."
The Jaipur pitch first became a topic of discussion after Mumbai Indians were restricted to 94 for 8 on it, and Sachin Tendulkar called the track two-paced. At the time both Warne and Dixit had criticised Mumbai for their comments on the pitch. The BCCI's pitches committee head Venkat Sundaram attended Rajasthan's next home game, and took the decision to switch the pitch for the Chennai game. The same pitch was then used for Rajasthan's last home game, which was also Warne's last match in Jaipur, and Rajasthan were once again comprehensively beaten.
Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo