Qaiser Mohammad Ali
BCCI, perhaps inadvertently, caused a huge embarrassment to the DDCA on Thursday by felicitating retired swashbuckling batsman Virender Sehwag and presenting him a memento, besides innovatively naming the two bowling ends after his two Test triple centuries – ‘Viru 319 End’ and ‘Viru 309 End’.
However, many people, including some within the DDCA, said that the BCCI did the right thing by felicitating Sehwag, before the start of the fourth India-South Africa Test at his home ground Ferozeshah Kotla, and that the DDCA “deserved such embarrassment.
“The BCCI was absolutely right in felicitating Sehwag and the DDCA deserved more of this kind of embarrassment. Even the branding inside the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium was the idea of the BCCI. The DDCA had nothing to do with the ‘Viru 319 End’ and ‘Viru 309 End’ branding at the two bowling ends, but DDCA still shamelessly superimposed its logo on all of those signages,” a DDCA official told jantakareporter.com
While the BCCI aptly recognised the immense contribution of the lone Indian Test triple centurion has made to Indian and Delhi cricket, the DDCA administrators who have almost always made “hollow promises” to Sehwag chose to stay away – some people say, deliberately.
Those unfulfilled promises included presenting 100 gold coins (after Sehwag played his 100th Test in 2012), Rs 25 lakh reward (after his ODI world record score of 219 in 2011), and naming of a gate at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium after Sehwag, who on Thursday was present at the ground with his entire family.
The DDCA official said that all the “fake promises” were made purely in individual capacities by some “publicity seeking” officials and that those announcements never had the approval of the executive committee.
“All the announcement since 2004, when Sehwag scored his first Test triple century, till he migrated to Haryana this season, can be called fake, because they were made in individual capacities of some publicity-seeking officials. None of those announcements – barring perhaps the one about the gold coins — was ever ratified by the DDCA executive committee,” he said. “So, those announcements were made to clearly seek publicity.”
The BCCI also put up a giant signage over the two teams’ dressing rooms, proclaiming ‘Thank You Viru’ in bold letters. This too was the BCCI’s brainchild, and not of the DDCA, said the official.
“The DDCA neither had a hand nor any say in today’s felicitation of Sehwag and in putting up the sign boards at the Kotla as a tribute to him. They were all BCCI’s initiatives. The DDCA officials who have been making media announcements regarding Sehwag have always done it only for cheap publicity,” the DDCA official said.
“One senior DDCA official, who is always seeking publicity, had audacity to stand next to Sewhag when BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur presented a memento to Sehwag, despite being told by another top BCCI official that only Thakur would be present at the dais,” he pointed out.
“Thakur was angry at the ‘forced presence’ of this DDCA official beside him when he presented the memento to Sehwag. Later, this DDCA official also sent a media statement, along with his photo clicked during the felicitation,” the official said.
In December 2011, after Sehwag broke the world record of the highest ODI by hammering 219 against the West Indies in Indore, then DDCA general secretary SP Bansal had issued a media statement, saying that the association would reward him for his stupendous feat.
The press statement, issued by Ravi Jain on December 9, 2011, had read: “Dear all, Delhi and District Association has decided to give Rs 25 lakh award to Mr Virendra Sehwag as a mark of respect and honour for making his world record in ODI,” SP Bansal, general secretary DDCA and vice-chairman BCCI Media Committee.
The award was never presented to Sehwag, several people confirmed on Thursday.
In November 2012, then DDCA vice-president Chetan Chauhan had announced that the association would present Sehwag 100 gold coins for appearing in 100 Test matches. This promise too was never fulfilled.
“If anyone in the DDCA wants to say anything he just gets up and makes announcements. Just ask Chauhan how much 100 gold coins would cost. The cost would be around Rs 6 crore. Does the DDCA have that kind of money? It doesn’t have. Then why he made such a bombastic announcement,” the DDCA official wondered. “Also, Arun Jaitley was DDCA president when all these announcements were made. So, in a way he too is responsible for the DDCA not keeping its word to Sehwag over the years.”
Chauhan had also announced that a gate at the Ferozeshah Kotla would be named after Sehwag. But that too hasn’t happened.
The self-respecting Sehwag not even once complained about the promises made to him not being fulfilled. Rather, on Thursday, a magnanimous Sehwag said that he considered himself lucky that he was being felicitated.
Sehwag, one of the four batsmen to score two triple Test centuries in the 138-year Test history, represented the DDCA all his life, but never really got the due he hugely deserved from his parent association.
Even when a frustrated Sehwag decided to migrate to Haryana at the start of this domestic season, many DDCA officials rather uncharitably expressed their happiness that he was leaving Delhi.
There was no statement of gratitude from the DDCA — leave alone organising a farewell function — and the one half-hearted media release that was put out by one official was written in crooked English.
At Thursday’s felicitation, Sehwag was accompanied by his mother Krishna, wife Aarti, and sons Aryavir and Vedant.
After the brief function, Sehwag said in an interview that he had told both his sons that between them whoever surpassed his 319-run Test innings first would get an expensive car from him.
“I have kept a Ferrari car [as an incentive] for them, if they break my milestone [of 319] at any level of the game, be it school cricket, under-19 or under-16. This is a motivation for them, if they cross that milestone,” said Sehwag, who retired from international cricket in October.