Lodha panel secretary accused selectors of taking sexual favours: Ajay Shirke

Ajay Shirke told the Lodha committee members that the accusations were ‘preposterous’ and nobody with the BCCI had heard of any such incidents.

Written by Devendra Pandey | Mumbai | Updated: August 24, 2016 9:15:52 am
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THE BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke has expressed his disappointment over comments that Lodha committee secretary Gopal Sankaranarayanan is said to have made against selectors in the country during their meeting on August 9. In his emailed report of the meeting to president Anurag Thakur, which has been accessed by The Indian Express, Shirke claimed that Sankaranarayanan had accused the BCCI of being a ‘mute spectator’ to ‘corrupt practices’ to the extent that, “mothers of young aspiring cricket players were forced to sleep with the selectors in order to get their wards selected in the team.”

In his 14-point report, which has been circulated to all office-bearers, Shirke writes that the meeting, which Thakur couldn’t attend, was conducted in a cordial manner and he had informed the committee about the board filing a review petition. And it was when the meeting was about to conclude that Sankaranarayanan told Justice Lodha and his two colleagues that he had something to say.

“The Secretary then started to address me and stated that there was large apathy in the BCCI and spoke of the shocking manner that BCCI conducts its affairs and activities and he stated that the BCCI has been a mute spectator to what he said were corrupt practices rampantly prevalent in the BCCI,” writes Shirke. Sankaranarayanan, according to the BCCI secretary, then went on to level the accusations about selectors asking for sexual favours from parents.

“He further made it appear as if this was a practice widely prevalent amongst cricket selectors and that the BCCI had not done anything in this regard. It was utterly wrong on the part of Mr. Gopal Shankarnarayanan to paint all selectors as depraved and despicable human beings in this manner and then to allege that BCCI did not take any action against its selectors,” the report reads. Shirke adds that the committee secretary seemed to be insinuating that the board and its state associations were of “low moral character”.

“I was at a loss for words to describe the anger and pain that I felt at this accusation made by the secretary to the Lodha Committee against our selectors, past and present, and the selectors of our state associations and against the BCCI office bearers,” the report reads.

Shirke then claims to have told the Lodha committee members that the accusations were ‘preposterous’ and that nobody associated with the BCCI had ever heard of any such incidents. “I also stated that making such statements about selectors appointed by the BCCI and its state associations was totally uncalled for on the part of Mr Gopal Shankarnarayanan specially when no such complaint was ever received by the BCCI and nor did Mr. Shankarnarayanan produce any such complaint,” he writes.

According to the report, at that point, the “honourable Justices” intervened and put an end to the discussion.

That wasn’t the only time that Shirke claims the Lodha committee members had to ‘intervene’ and ‘overrule’ Sankarnarayanan during the meeting. He reports that when he asked the committee if he should attach the report submitted by Justice Markandey Katju — who the BCCI had appointed to head a four-member legal panel in an advisory capacity — along with the letter seeking president Thakur’s absence at the meeting, Sankaranayanan stated that “there was no need”. “However the Hon.Lordships then intervened and overruled the secretary and stated that the copies can be left with the committee,” the report says.

Among other things, Shirke also revealed that the committee had asked the BCCI to submit a progress report by August 23-24 about the implementation of the Supreme Court order — which was passed on July 18 asking the board to implement a majority of the Lodha recommendations.

When contacted, Shirke told this paper, “Our president couldn’t attend the last meeting as he was busy with the Parliament session and it was my duty to file a detailed report on what happened in the meeting.”

Sankaranarayanan refused to comment.

Chief selector Sandeep Patil seeks one-year extension

Sandeep Patil, chairman of the senior national selection committee who is set to complete his four-year term in September, has sought a one-year extension, a move that hasn’t gone down well with the Indian cricket board. In a letter to the board secretary Ajay Shirke. Patil had stated his wish for continuity ahead of a packed home season, but he is likely to be rejected.

“He knows that no selector can hold a post for four years and despite that he wants to be the selector. How can he even expect BCCI will consider such kind of request. There are others too waiting for selectors job,” a BCCI official told The Indian Express. A text message was sent to him but Patil didn’t reply.

As per Indian cricket board’s rules, no selector can hold his position for more than four years. It’s learnt that Patil believes that his extension could ensure continuity in the selection committee with India set to play 13 Tests at home. A packed schedule has India playing Tests against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh, and Australia. However, Patil’s application has reverse effect and has bought ire to BCCI bosses.

Incidentally, Patil had earlier applied for the job of coaching Indian team but wasn’t shortlisted for the interview. Patil was the first big name to apply for the post and though, many were called for interview by the Cricket Advisory Committee, he wasn’t. The former Mumbai and India player is currently with the Indian team in West Indies in his first trip abroad as a selector.

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