Diana Edulji, the former India women captain who is part of the two-member Committee of Administrators (CoA), has said the CoA will not interfere in the controversy surrounding Mithali Raj's omission from India's side for their Women's World T20 semi-final against England last week. Raj, India's senior-most player and their highest run-getter in the T20 format, was left out despite being passed fit - she had missed India's last group match against Australia with a knee injury - and scoring fifties in her last two innings. India went on to lose the semi-final by eight wickets after collapsing from 89 for 2 to 112 all out.
Edulji said the CoA, appointed to supervise the BCCI by India's Supreme Court, could not burden itself with cricketing decisions. However, she added that the CoA would address the concerns of any players if they were to approach the panel.
Earlier on Monday, Raj, India captain Harmanpreet Kaur and team manager Trupti Bhattacharya had separate meetings with Rahul Johri, the BCCI chief executive officer, and Saba Karim, the BCCI's general manager cricket operations. After meeting India coach Ramesh Powar later in the week, Johri and Karim are likely to prepare a report that they will submit to the CoA.
The decision to leave Raj out of the semi-final against England was taken by the team management comprising Harmanpreet, Powar, vice-captain Smriti Mandhana and selector Sudha Shah after they watched the first semi-final between Australia and West Indies. They agreed to stick with the same combination that had beaten Australia convincingly, which meant the allrounder Anuja Patil kept her place in the XI ahead of Raj. Bhattacharjya convened the meeting of the think-tank.
Harmanpreet said the decision was a collective one taken in the interests of the team, but it came in for strong criticism from the media and former players. The CoA is understood to have asked for Raj's fitness logs over the weekend, but Edulji has now said it was not appropriate for the committee to interfere in cricketing matters.
"The CoA will not get involved in the issue," Edulji said. "We will not go into cricket issues. Who plays in the XI is not our headache. And it should not be anybody's headache. It is a decision to be taken by the team management."
Edulji said it wasn't the business of the CoA to question the team management's decisions. "Because see what are the conditions, what is the wicket playing like, what is the dew factor, what is the strength of the opposition - all that how can CoA, sitting in India, decide the playing XI whether it is right or wrong."
Edulji also rubbished speculation in India's women's cricketing circles that she was taking Harmanpreet's side in the issue, and pointed to the role she had played in bringing both Raj and Harmanpreet to the Railways team in their formative years. She said she had also been instrumental in Raj taking over the Railways captaincy, which paved her way towards becoming India captain.
"I definitely like Harman's game. I like the way she plays," Edulji said. "Because I was a hitter myself I like people who can clear the boundaries. She changed the complexion of women's cricket after that knock in England (in the World Cup semi-final against Australia). Otherwise there is nothing special that I will go out of my way (to support Harmanpreet). In fact, we hardly talk."
Edulji said she was not aware of any differences between Raj and Harmanpreet or between any other players in the team. "If there are differences off the field, it should not come out on the field," she said. "Once you cross the boundary line, you are playing for the country."