Qaiser Mohammad Ali
BCCI president Shashank Manohar on Saturday rejected an offer from Arvind Kejriwal’s Delhi government to jointly host the fourth and final Test match against South Africa in Delhi, saying that the Delhi and District Cricket Association was the lone legitimate body to stage the game.
A special committee of the Delhi government met Manohar in Nagpur on Saturday to explore the possibility of jointly organising the five-day Test after the Chief Minister’s Office had received “some serious complaints” about “financial irregularities and wrong-doings” against the DDCA and some of its officials/members.
Manohar, however, “clearly” told the committee that the BCCI would not allow any government, and not just Kejriwal’s Delhi government, to administer cricket.
“How can we agree to a government hosting a match? If a match has to be organised [in Delhi] only DDCA will have to host it. I have told this to the committee. We cannot allow the government to run the game,” Manohar told JantaKaReporter.com from his residence in Nagpur.
When asked if the Delhi government team had explicitly offered to jointly stage the Test at the Ferozeshah Kotla, Manohar said, “A discussion took place and during the discussion this issue cropped up. So, I clearly told him that we can’t allow the government to run the game – not just Delhi government but any government.”
How was the overall meeting? “All meetings are good. There is never any problem in meetings,” Manohar quipped.
Manohar, widely known for his integrity, said that since the BCCI has set a deadline of 17 November the DDCA, he would wait till that day for a reply from the association.
The BCCI has already announced that in case the DDCA was not able to host the game, Pune would stage it.
“I have given the DDCA time till 17 November. We will not take a decision before that day. Whatever time we have given, we will wait till then,” Manohar emphasised.
Manohar also clarified that Rajkot was not a second standby for the Test match, as some people were speculating in Delhi. “There is no standby. The game is allotted to Pune, if Delhi doesn’t host it,” he said.
Since the DDCA is virtually bankrupt at the moment, largely a making of its own administrators over the years, the association cannot organise the match without BCCI’s financial assistance.
A DDCA office-bearer said that the BCCI has been approached to release Rs 10 crore, subject to the match being held at the Kotla.
“I have no idea about that [DDCA’s financial health]. I have not received anything [request] from the DDCA,” Manohar said. “I will wait till the evening of 17 November [for a reply from DDCA]. But the decision has been made and it is that if DDCA is not able to host the match, Pune will host the game.”
There has been a talk in Delhi that since the India-South Africa series is being played for the Mahatma Gandhi-Nelson Mandela Trophy, and the spirit of the two giants was being invoked. Therefore, it was said, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would present the trophy at the end of the fourth Test. And since many of his ministers and dignitaries, including the South African High Commissioner to India, were likely to witness the match, the match should be held in Delhi.
A DDCA official confirmed that he has been sounded out about the presence of Modi and other dignitaries.
However, a top BCCI official said that there was no compulsion to host the Test in Delhi if the circumstances don’t allow that.
“It entirely depends on the Delhi government to grant or not grant the necessary permissions to the DDCA for hosting the match. There is nothing like the fourth Test has to be played in Delhi only. If that were the case, why Pune would be put on standby,” he asked.
DDCA treasurer Ravinder Manchanda welcomed the stand Manohar has taken.
“Naturally, our confidence goes up on hearing what Manohar has to say. It shows that the BCCI is with us [DDCA],” Manchanda told JantaKaReporter.com.
“Since time is short, we are still trying to get an appointment with Kejriwal. We are hoping to hear from his office tomorrow morning,” he said. “If we don’t get an appointment with him, one option before us would be to get a stay order from the Delhi High Court [to defer payment of Rs 24.46 crore entertainment tax the Delhi government has slapped on DDCA].”
Meanwhile, the Delhi government team returned from Nagpur and even started writing its report on Saturday evening. It, however, remains to be seen if the report would be made public.
Constituted by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, the three-member, led by Chetan B. Sanghi, Principal Secretary PWD, Urban Development & Vigilance, was given two specific areas to probe and report back.
They were: (i) A summary of the irregularities/wrong-doings, if any, by the DDCA, its officials and members; and (ii) Suggestions for revamping the DDCA to promote Cricket in the national capital.
The committee was given three days to submit its report to Sisodia.
While announcing the committee, the government clarified that Delhi should “not be deprived of good and international quality cricket” but refrained from “commenting about conjectures on the capability of the DDCA in hosting the Test between India and South Africa”, starting on 3 December.