Disabled cricket body hit by resignations of 2 key officials ahead of first world series
Ahead of the first T20 Physical Disability Cricket World Series, two key officials of the All India Cricket Association for Physically Challenged have stepped down alleging bias in the selection process and bad management. However, key AICPAC officials have dismissed these allegations and say that these officials are playing personal politics which is needlessly damaging the future of physically disabled cricket at a critical juncture.
Just two weeks to go before the first ever T20 Physical Disability Cricket World Series starts in England, controversy hits Indian disabled cricket.
Earlier this year, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had brought three bodies - Disabled Sporting Society, Indian Cricket Federation for Disabled (ICFD) and Physically Challenged Cricket Association of India (PCCAI) - under one umbrella - and authorised this body to select a team for the first-ever world series.
Now two key officials, Haroon Rashid, Joint Secretary, AICPAC and Dr Abdul Siddiqui, who was the Vice President have quit their posts alleging bias in team selection. Siddiqui, who headed the ICFD says they tried to resolve the issue with Ashok Wadekar, brother of legendary cricketer Ajit Wadekar who also founded the AICPAC, but were ignored.
We tried speaking to Ashok Wadekar and gave written statements as well after which we were promised meetings but this was not honoured, forcing us to take this step. As a result, we have withdrawn from the AICPAC. The team which will play for India in the world event has been chosen without following due process. The selection process was a sham with outstanding players being left out and preference given to players from Maharashtra and Haryana. - Dr Abdul Siddiqui, Former Vice President, All India Cricket Association for Physically Challenged (AICPAC)
Experienced players sidelined?
These allegations have been voiced by prominent players like Suvro Joarder as well. Speaking to NewzHook a week ago, Suvro had said that players with considerable international experience were sidelined in the selection trials.
"When the trials were held in Hubli, the idea was to call cricketers that associations had recommended", said Suvro. Of the lot finally called, many were non-deserving, he alleged. Apart from Suvro, other well-known cricketers who did not make it to the list are Jeet Bhowmik and Kailash Prasad.
"All the four associations should have played matches and chosen the good players but instead politics was played, says Kailash, who plays for Agra, "I am the opener for the national side, but I was not given a chance. The trials were organised poorly with certain groups taking over".
Allegations that Pradeep Raj, Founder of wheelchair cricket in India, and a prominent disability rights activist, has dismissed strongly. "These are personal and petty politics that some people are playing ahead of a series where we want India to put its best foot forward". Raj says Dr Siddiqui and Rashid are disgruntled as they were not included in the committee although the AICPAC is following BCCI norms in doing so. "If you notice the final line up, there's a player from every association present and they are being given the best training and facilities".
For long, disabled cricket in India has been struggling for a platform and the purpose of forming an umbrella group was to ensure that players across India finally had a fair chance. A major controversy erupting on the eve of a major international series should not impact the future of the game at a critical juncture.