The plan to honour Gautam Gambhir at Feroz Shah Kotla, which was abandoned due to internal differences within the DDCA, is set to be revived.
Nine members of the 16-strong Apex Council that have revolted against DDCA president Rajat Sharma decided on Tuesday to ensure a stand at the stadium is named after the former India opener. If things go as per plan, it could happen as early as the start of the Ranji Trophy season next month.
“The Apex Council had approved the stand in Gautam Gambhir’s name. It was to be near the stadium end (Ambedkar football stadium),” DDCA joint secretary Rajan Manchanda told The Indian Express.
The homage to Gambhir was supposed to come months earlier. At an emergent meeting of the council in June, members had unanimously decided to name a stand after him ‘as a mark of recognition’. The felicitation was to happen during the final of the hot weather tournament at Kotla on June 22-23. Yet, differences of opinion cropped up between the members, and it resulted in the plan being shelved.
Two months ago, India captain Virat Kohli, who made his India debut five years after Gambhir, had a stand dedicated to him by the association, while the giant metal letters ordered to spell out the proposed ‘Gautam Gambhir Stand’ languished in a dusty store room within the stadium.
“It is unfortunate that we have not been able to honour the contribution of Gambhir to Indian cricket because of disagreements among members of the Apex Council. We had even ordered the large letters of his name to be put up on the stand. At today’s meeting of the Apex council members, it was decided to unveil the stand and felicitate Gambhir sooner than later,” Manchanda said.
The Apex Council also had the option to felicitate Gambhir during an international game at the Kotla. India played Bangladesh in the third and final T20 International at the Kotla on November 3.
When contacted on Tuesday about why there was a delay in naming a stand after Gambhir, who played 58 Tests and 147 ODIs, DDCA president Sharma refused to comment.
Gambhir was director of the DDCA (government nominee) till last month when he resigned from the post. He was also a special invitee of the DDCA’s cricket committee before it was disbanded when the state unit adopted the new constitution.
The minutes of the emergent meeting of the Apex Council in the first week of June state: “The proposal was approved unanimously and the CEO was directed to take necessary action in this regard. He (Manchanda) proposed that one stand in DDCA may be named as ‘Gautam Gambhir Stand’ as a mark of recognition and appreciation of the contribution by Mr Gautam Gambhir in national and international cricket.”
In September, Kohli was honoured and a stand named after him at a felicitation function at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the presence of home minister Amit Shah, sports minister Kiren Rijiju and DDCA president Sharma. At the same function, the stadium was renamed the ‘Arun Jaitley Stadium’.
Kohli is not the first Indian cricketer to have a stand named after him at the Kotla. When DDCA’s court-appointed administrator Justice (retired) Vikramajit Sen was in charge, two stands were named after left-arm spinner Bishen Singh Bedi and all-rounder Mohinder Amarnath. A gate each for opener Virender Sehwag and former women cricket captain Anjum Chopra were also unveiled.