Till Tuesday morning Dinesh Mongia lived the life most former Indian cricketers of some stature do. As coach of the DAV College in Chandigarh, his alma-mater, Mongia taught budding cricketers the basics of the game and also ran his academy from college premises. The Dinesh Mongia Cricket School of Excellence at the college saw a steady flow of trainees. Mongia was considered good enough to succeed Yograj Singh, the revered coach of the college.
On Tuesday, however, the boys didn’t have their coach at hand as they began practice. Former New Zealand international Lou Vincent, while giving evidence at the Southwark Crown Court in London in the Chris Cairns perjury case, had named Mongia as one of the six Chandigarh Lions players who were in on match-fixing.
The first time such allegations surfaced was when Mongia was suspended from the ICL in 2008. Now the taint of corruption once again threatens to disrupt the routine the former cricketer has been following over the past few years. By Tuesday afternoon, Mongia was defending himself. Looking weather-beaten, perhaps from spending time outdoors training cricketers, and wearing a stubble, he denied involvement in match-fixing during the now defunct Indian Cricket League.
“All the allegations are baseless and it’s the second time that the allegations have come up. I have always played cricket with passion and the statement by Lou Vincent regarding me is false. I am in consultation with my lawyer and we will soon take legal action. When I played for Chandigarh Lions, I saw Chris Cairns as someone whom we admire and he was a great player. But I was never in their gang and would talk about only cricket with them,” Mongia said.
Once the Indian cricket board offered amnesty to ICL players, Mongia made an unsuccessful attempt to return to the senior Punjab state team.
Ahead of the 2011-2012 domestic season, he wrote to IS Bindra, the then president of the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA), to allow him to play for the state. But Mongia made little headway. To remain an active player, Mongia turned out for Chetna Cricket Club, which he represented in his early days.
A Bollywood cameo
He also dabbled in acting and played a parody of Amitabh Bachchan in the movie Kabab Mein Haddi. However, the movie was not a commercial success. However, Mongia has always maintained his link to cricket even after he was considered past his shelf life.
“He played in Holland and Canada after his India career was over. Once he was based in Chandigarh for longer periods he conducted selection trails for the Chandigarh Administration and then started running his academy,” a close associate and former teammate of the cricketer said.
Mongia has also ventured into business. Apart from running the academy, Mongia has launched his own cricket kit brand called ‘DM’. A shop in the college premises, run by Mongia, sells DM products, which a number of cricketers use.
Before getting into coaching full-time Mongia would turn up for club games on weekends. It was in 2012 that DAV College offered him an honorary coaching role for their team. Mongia earned his spurs as a coach when DAV emerged Inter-College champions for three years.
Now, with an unwelcome intrusion stemming from a former teammate making headlines, Mongia the coach has been left to defend the name of Mongia the cricketer.