By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Did the rift with the all-powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President N Srinivasan cost Mohinder Amarnath his job? If itinerant cricket journalist Debashish Dutta is to be believed, the selectors’ decision to appoint Virat Kohli as the captain of the Indian team for the Commonwealth Bank (CB) series in Australia did not go well with Srinivasan and was the main reason behind Amarnath’s dismissal from the national selection panel.
Speaking on the television channel Neo Prime’s live talk show Dial C for Cricket on Thursday, Dutta said, “Why did Mohinder Amarnath lose his job? You tell me. Because, he made one mistake: he selected Virat Kohli as captain for the CB series in Australia?”
The anchor, Mikkhail Vaswani, was taken by surprise and asked Dutta whether he was sure about his claims. The journalist emphatically shot back, “I am 110% sure about this.”
According to Dutta, the selectors had all but appointed Kohli as the captain for the tri-series in Australia earlier this year. The decision did not materialise as Srinivasan intervened and used his power under the BCCI rules to overturn the decision. Dutta elaborated, “While the selection committee meeting was going on, the convenor of the meeting Mr. Sanjay Jagdale called up the Board President – who was playing golf in Chennai.
“He (Srinivasan) had to then come with a rule book of the BCCI - which said that if you want to pick the team and the captain – it has to be ratified by the President. That’s it. Things were overturned.” So much for the ‘powers’ of the national selectors and the freedom and they have to pick a team of their choice freely and fearlessly!
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s proximity to Srinivasan is an open secret. The Indian captain is also the captain of Chennai Super Kings – the Indian Premier League (IPL) owned by Srinivsan.
“Finally when the selectors left, they said this is the team – you choose your own captain. Our President couldn’t take that heated discussion," Dutta added.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni led India in that series – one where they failed to qualify for the finals. Initial reports suggested that Amarnath didn’t want Dhoni to continue as the Test captain and was in favour of Virender Sehwag taking up the mantle. There was no mention of Kohli being pushed by Amarnath for the captaincy. Nor were there any murmurs of Dhoni’s job in ODIs being shaky.
In the aftermath of Amarnath’s dismissal, it was clear that his ouster was due to differences with authority. He was appointed to the panel only last year and was the only one (from the panel chaired by Krishnamachari Srikkanth) eligible for another term. However, these revelations are shocking if true. It shows that the ultimate authority rests with the President – often a man who is in the post for his political muscle than cricketing skills - who has the power to overrule any matter. As Dutta said, ““It happened, in Indian cricket many things are swept under the carpet.”
If these revelations are true, one cannot help but trace the timeline of Kohli’s ascent to the vice-captaincy of the Indian One-Day international (ODI) team. The rising star was appointed the vice-captain to Dhoni for the Asia Cup in March – which was after the CB series. It is quite surprising that the selectors had him in mind as a captain even before he was given a deputy’s role. Furthermore, the choice would have come ahead of the likes of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag – men who were considered contenders for the post. If one may recall, Sehwag had captained India (in Dhoni’s absence) in one of the games at the CB series in Australia.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_