Jacob Martin has scored over 9,000 runs in First-Class matches © Getty Images
Jacob Martin has scored over 9,000 runs in First-Class matches © Getty Images

The Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) has appointed former Indian player Jacob Martin as their coach for the Ranji Trophy at a time when recommendations are being made by the apex court of India to bring lucidity in the functioning. Martin has a criminal record and has spent time in the jail in the past. He recently came out on bail. The move seems to be a step backward as Martin has a poor off field record. Some senior Baroda players and BCA officials felt Martin’s appointment is a move, which opposes Lodha Panel Recommendations. They also cited BCCI’s criterion for selectors, which restricts anybody with a criminal record from applying for the job.

Martin represented India in 10 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in which he had 158 runs to his name with a highest score of 39.

A senior player was quoted in a report from mid-day.com saying, “How can someone who has spent time in Tihar Jail and whose case for which he was convicted, still pending be appointed as the Ranji Trophy coach? BCCI’s ‘no criminal record’ rule should also hold true for coaches and other office bearers.”

Another official said, “This is completely unethical. He may have been a very good cricketer, but he hasn’t been a law-abiding citizen. BCA has set a bad example by appointing him as coach. There are so many senior cricketers in Baroda who could easily have occupied the post.”

In 2009, Martin was detained by Delhi Police for a human-trafficking case in 2003, which was filed at Indira Gandhi International Airport police station. It was reported that a youngster with a fake passport accompanied Martin to UK for playing cricket in exchange for money. The youngster identified as Nimesh Kumar later also revealed that Martin made arrangements for the team with other associate for seven lakhs.

RA Sanjeev, the then Deputy Commissioner of Police at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, was quoted in PTI as saying, “Martin formed a bogus team — Ajwa Sports Club — and identified himself as a playing member.”

It was also reported that Martin’s non co-operation with the investigation process also resulted in rejection of his anticipatory bail plea by the Supreme Court and he was asked to surrender. In fact, the Delhi Police also decided to reward any person who provides relevant information about Martin with a cash reward of Rs 25,000.

The secretary to the Lodha panel, Gopal Shankar Narayan, spoke about the issue when contacted by the mid-day said, “No chance that someone with such a record can be appointed coach.”

The BCCI secretary, Ajay Shirke said, “The matter pertains to a state association and BCCI doesn’t influence decisions of its members, especially relating to cricket.”

Subhash and Seema Gulati are dealing with the Martin’s case in Delhi High court and in a message from them read, “Yes, the Delhi Police arrested Martin for something which he didn’t commit. He was however sent to judicial custody but there was no concrete evidence to press charge against him and he is now out on bail. No charge sheet has been filed in this case too. We filed a revised petition against the charges and now the discharge application is pending in Delhi High Court. This will come up for hearing very soon.”

Martin quipped, “I have full faith in the law and I am sure that I will come out clean. I just want dedicate the rest of my life to the game and nothing else.”

A former Indian cricketer, who served the BCCI at a higher rank also spoke about the incident and not revealed his identity. He said “People with criminal history are MPs and ministers. What is the harm if he becomes a coach? Mind you, he hasn’t been proved guilty yet. He is a cricketer so let him do what he does best.”