Ahead of the BCCI’s Senior Tournament Committee meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday to discuss the rescheduling of two Ranji Trophy matches, the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) has written to the parent body, saying a review of the cricket board’s Technical Committee’s decision would be “contrary to the principles of natural justice”.
In a letter to BCCI president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke, CAB joint secretary Avishek Dalmiya said: “During the course of the meeting of the representatives of the affiliated full members of BCCI at New Delhi on December2 to discuss matters pertaining to the Hon’ble Supreme Court, State Associations and Hon’ble Lodha Committee and its other related matters, an outside issue related to the rescheduled Ranji Trophy match between Bengal and Gujarat which was decided and communicated by the Board of Control for Cricket in India to be played from 15th to 18th of December was raised on behalf of the MCA, duly supported by the TNCA, that each team should have been awarded a point each and rescheduling of the match was incorrect.
“With reference to above, we would like to categorically state as under with sincere expectation that the decision taken by BCCI based on supervening, extraordinary, unavoidable, dangerous condition be not reviewed, as otherwise the same would be not merely unfair but also contrary to regulatory provisions of the BCCI and the principles of natural justice.”
The BCCI Technical Committee decided to reschedule the fifth round matches; between Gujarat and Bengal in Group A and Hyderabad and Tripura in Group C; due to the smog and pollution in the national capital. The matches, that were to be held from November 5 to 8, had been rescheduled to a December 15 start at Visakhapatnam and Kolkata respectively; after the league phase of the tournament.
But the MCA, TNCA and Haryana Cricket Association raised objections during the December 2 meeting, questioning the decision of the match referees – P Ranganathan for the Gujarat-Bengal game and Sanjay Sharma for the tie between Hyderabad and Tripura – to abandon the fixtures after two days.
Shirke also admitted that the problem emanated at the match referees’ level, as The Indian Express reported the BCCI’s decision to review the Technical Committee’s recommendation. “We are going to have a full, detailed inquiry of this. The whole problem has come because the match referees didn’t wait to go into Day Three and Day Four,” Shirke had said.
The CAB letter mentioned Clause 3.5.3 of the (BCCI) Playing Conditions for Multi-Day Matches. “(It) expressly stipulates, amongst others, that if the situation is so bad that there is obvious and foreseeable risk to the safety of player and would be unreasonable or dangerous for play to take place warranting immediate suspension/abandonment, the Umpires in consultation with the Match Referee, may not allow the play to ‘commence’. The joint decisions of the Umpire and Match Referee to abandon the Match without a ‘ball’ being bowled were taken based on unprecedented air pollution then prevailing in Delhi, risking life and safety of everyone,” Avishek’s missive pointed out. The CAB stressed that as per the existing rules and regulations, only the Technical Committee has the “power and authority” to deal with an extraordinary situation “not directly conceived in playing conditions”.
“If the powers entrusted to the Tournament Committee under the (BCCI) Constitution are read in consonance with the powers of the Technical Committee, it would be amply clear that Tournament Committee in the particular unforeseen circumstances cannot exercise power, authority or jurisdiction,” the letter said.
The BCCI Constitution, however, defines the Technical Committee’s role as: “The Committee shall consider the Laws of the game and amendments thereto…” According to a senior cricket board official, once a tournament starts, “the Senior Tournament Committee is authorised to resolve any disputes and the decision is binding”. Incidentally, the Cricket Association of Bengal president Sourav Ganguly is the chairman of the Technical Committee.