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Conflict resolved as DDCA makes promises

G.S. Vivek

Posted: Aug 26, 2009 at 1637 hrs IST
      

New Delhi: The hostility between the DDCA and the players is over, with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir agreeing to stay with the Delhi team after president Arun Jaitley agreed in principle to most of their demands at a late night meeting on Monday. On Tuesday evening at the Ferozeshah Kotla, announcing that peace had been brokered, Jaitley refused to let his colleagues in the DDCA executive committee or the sports committee be seen in poor light.

“Last evening, both the senior players met me and my DDCA colleagues. We discussed several issues and I can tell you that the nature of discussion was not adversarial,” Jaitley told reporters.

“They (Sehwag and Gambhir) had primarily two concerns — to ensure that the selection process is absolutely fair and that no interference of any kind would be tolerated. Their suggestions were well-intentioned and I told both the players and my colleagues that both the steps should be taken so that the standard of fairness of the highest level is maintained.

“The sports committee only recommends and it’s up to the executive committee to take the final decision. When it comes to selection, it all depends on the selector’s individual discretion.”

On the face of it, the conclusion — a set of feeble measures without any concrete changes — might seem inappropriate considering what had transpired in the previous week. But the real picture — which, according to sources, assures the players a lot more than has been announced — is what has made Sehwag and Gambhir agree. “I did not see it developing into a crisis. It was not a conflict of interest. Their and our objectives are same. I saw it as an opportunity to reform,” Jaitley said.

Maintaining transparency

The DDCA president said the proposed new set-up will have “men who will man the system...men with integrity, spine and experience” who will ensure no interference from any external factors and transparency in selection at all levels.

The association is mulling over candidates who will mark this important step in placating the warring players, and conscious of the dearth of consensus candidates, Jaitley announced that the suggestion of players for trimming the selection panel from five to three is being considered.

One step towards streamlining selection was taken an hour after Jaitley made the reconciliation public, with the sports committee listing out the tournaments from which the performances of players would be counted, and chalking out plans for the pre-season three-day tournament that would be introduced shortly.

Still, Sehwag’s masterstroke could have been the man he chose as the mascot for the clean-up operation. At the behest of the India opener, former India Test captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi attended the meeting with Jaitley on Monday night.

According to sources, the DDCA officials blinked at the critical moment, not committing they would give Patuadi a definite role, but merely welcoming his initiative to come forward and help. It is learnt that Pataudi wanted DDCA to outline a specific role, and the powers of a new cricket committee that he would chair, before making himself available. The legalities of having an advisory committee, and the inability of the executive to relieve the sports committee of its powers ensured that Pataudi’s involvement with Delhi remained uncertain.

Setting up cricket committee

“In principle, we are ready to have such a body (cricket committee) but we need to explore the idea before deciding what functions it can perform and shortlist individuals who have the time and intention for the job,” Jaitley said.

“I want to officially put on record our appreciation for his (Pataudi’s) time. We are now contemplating a cricket advisory body and if he is willing and has the time, we would be happy to have him there.”

The Delhi players have shown their displeasure sporadically over the last three years, but this time, with a united effort under Sehwag, they have finally forced the DDCA to at least make some changes.

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