Former India opener Gautam Gambhir on Sunday threw his weight behind under-fire former DDCA President Arun Jaitley, saying that a lot of good happened in Delhi cricket under his tenure and things have gone wrong only in the last couple of years after he relinquished the post.
“A lot of good things have happened in DDCA when Mr Jaitley was its president. An international kind of stadium was built, if you see what sort of stadium Kotla was and what it is now, all these things happened only when Jaitley was president,” Gambhir told reporters.
“All these people who are criticising him now, left, right and center, they too were part of cricket improvement committee, they were given top-most posts and they were able to do nothing for Delhi,” said the current Delhi Ranji team captain.
“Now when he (Jaitley) is not there as president, every kind of allegations are levelled against him. They should not have taken such positions in DDCA if that was the case. Today all allegations are levelled on Jaitley not on DDCA. My question is he did not run DDCA alone,” he added.
Finance Minister Jaitley, who headed DDCA for 13 years till 2013, has been accused by the Delhi Government of turning a blind eye to the alleged corrupt activities in the DDCA during his tenure. The AAP government has demanded that Jaitley should resign or be “removed” from the union cabinet to enable an independent probe.
Further elaborating on the issue, Gambhir said: “I think, things have gone really bad after he vacated the post. If you look at the sort of preparation that was there ahead of the first class season this year, there were no bowlers, no wickets or nets, such things never happened when Jaitley ji was president.
“I don’t know whether there is any corruption or not, I just think, the current officials should not be there because they never think about cricket. Situation was much better earlier. Things have never been so bad in DDCA in the last two years. There is no one whom you can go to now,” he added.
Unhappy with the Delhi and District Cricket Association sports committee, Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and a few senior players, had revolted against the administration in 2009.
Asked about the revolt, Gambhir said: “Our protest was not for Jaitley ji, it was for other officials of DDCA. We have never taken his name, we have always said that whenever we faced any problems, we had to go to Jaitley ji for everything, which should not have been the case.
“If for everything you have to go to Jaitley ji, then what’s the role of rest of officials and administrators. Then what’s the point of having an association. So, we had problems with other officials then, and even now we have problems with other officials. Me and Sehwag always have had fruitful interactions with Jaitley ji,” he said on the sidelines of an event to support blind Indian cricketers.
Asked if he will ever leave Delhi team, Gambhir said: “I have always been a Delhi boy. I have never thought of leaving Delhi. My heart beats for Delhi, I started my career with Delhi and I want to end my cricket with Delhi because I think this is my home team and it has given me the opportunity to play for India. Whatever mess was there or is there, it has given me the opportunity.”
The proposed bilateral series between India and Pakistan is still uncertain and Gambhir said it is a decision that the respective governments have to make like always.
“That’s a political decision. Always, the decision for India and Pakistan series has gone down to the governments and they have to give the clearance,” Gambhir said.
“If you ask any player, they would say, it is always good fun to play against Pakistan. But all the series that has happened in the past has happened with government nod and I am sure whatever decision government will take they will take with the best interest for the country,” he added.
Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra made a comeback in Indian squad after they were selected for the T20 series against Australia next month.
Asked when can he make a comeback in the India team, Gambhir, who last played for India during a Test against England at The Oval in 2014, said: “It depends on selectors. My job is to play cricket and give my best.
“Delhi are in knockouts at Hazare and we’ll look to play well. Every player misses playing for his country but ultimately you have to do what is in your hand,” he said.
Asked if India playing the Test series against South Africa in spin-friendly wickets will affect their performance when they tour Australia for ODI and T20 series, Gambhir said: “It’s a different format, you can’t compare Tests with ODIs.”
“When you play ODI cricket, you play on good, even wickets and when you play Test, you prepare wickets for home conditions and that is the case across the world.”