The acting president of the BCCI, CK Khanna, has alleged that the cricket board’s acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary arbitrarily picked Bangalore as the venue for the first-ever Test between India and Afghanistan in June. In an email, copy to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) and the BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri as well, Khanna has “advised” Choudhary to convene a meeting of the cricket board’s Tour, Programme and Fixtures Committee on January 31 in Delhi to “discuss and/or ratify the venue” for the game.
On Tuesday, at a press conference, Choudhary, with the Afghanistan Cricket Board officials alongside him, announced that the “historic” Test would be played in Bangalore from June 14. But the decision allegedly bypassed the BCCI president, as he felt that proper process wasn’t followed in allocating the venue.
“… I write to you not about the selection of the venue but about the process involved. You are well aware that the decision with regard to allocation of matches lies with the Tour, Programme and Fixtures Committee of the BCCI. The decision with regard to the venues of the entire home season (2017-18) of Bilateral Cricket had also been taken by the meeting of the Tour, Programme and Fixtures Committee held at the ITC Sonar, Kolkata.
“In these circumstances, your announcement of a venue without the same being discussed and decided in a meeting of the Tour, Programme and Fixtures Committee is not appropriate. Moreover, you have done this without even consulting the other office bearers of the BCCI or even with the members of the Tour, Programme and Fixtures Committee,” Khanna wrote in his email.
He stressed that the choice of the venue should have been made at “at the appropriate forum” and how it becomes imperative for the president and other office-bearers to “lend sanctity” to a decision that has “historic significance”.
Choudhary, when contacted by The Indian Express, said: “At the last SGM, the matter of India-Afghanistan Test match came up and it was a unanimous view of the whole house to ensure that Afghanistan, when it makes its debut in Test cricket, it does so on Indian soil. In keeping with the friendship and cricket bond between the two countries, the general body had expressed its will. The general body supersedes any committee.”
He added: “Now the fact is that there were also other countries that wanted Afghanistan to make its debut in their respective countries. If we had waited for formalities, the initiative would have been seized by any of those countries. That’s why, to carry the will of the house of ensuring that Afghanistan plays its first Test on Indian soil, it was decided to get in touch with them (ACB) and call them for a meeting, which was yesterday. And once we agreed, we announced it to the whole country.”
Choudhary said a meeting of the Tour, Programme and Fixtures Committee would be called soon. “Insofar as the Tour, Programme and Fixtures Committee is concerned, we are going to call a meeting of the Committee soon and put it up for ratification.”
Khanna’s mail to the secretary further highlighted the sharp division within the cricket board at the moment. This paper had earlier reported how the two office-bearers were in disagreement over giving 20 passes to an Apple senior executive and his team from the US for the India versus Australia T20 international in Hyderabad on October 13 last year.
The president concluded his mail, saying: “… I advise you to convene a meeting of the Tour, Programme and Fixtures Committee of BCCI on 31st January, 2018 at 11.00am, Delhi to discuss, decide and/or ratify the venue for the first ever Test Match to be held between India and Afghanistan which the BCCI is to host”. He further mentioned: “This is subject to any directions of COA.”
Incidentally, the BCCI decided to host Afghanistan for their first-ever Test during its December 11, 2017 Special General Meeting (SGM). The ICC gave Afghanistan Full-Member Status in June last year.