If Virat Kohli can send text messages to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri to state his dissatisfaction with Anil Kumble as coach and to ensure Ravi Shastri was considered, why can’t women cricketers like Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana write emails to the board to request that Ramesh Powar continues as coach? That’s one of the contentions of Diana Edulji, a member of the Committee of Administrators, in response to CoA chief Vinod Rai’s observation that Indian men’s team did not send emails to support or oppose a coach. The email chain between Edulji, Rai, general manager cricket operations Saba Karim, and Indranil Deshmukh, legal advisor of the BCCI over the issue of women’s team coach, accessed by The Indian Express, reflects the heightened conflict between the two CoA members responsible for running Indian cricket.
The issues between Rai and Edulji are many but the main bone of contention is this: Edulji doesn’t see how Rai has the veto power on any issue. Edulji wrote that BCCI officials like Johri and Karim should “desist to act on single approval” of one COA member. “You are hereby instructed to act when both the members have given the instructions or approval.” But minutes after her mail, a press release signed by Rai stated that a new ad-hoc committee comprising Kapil Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy would decide on the new women’s coach on December 20.
“The [men’s] team did not send emails. The [women’s] team must realise that that coaches are not decided on team votes,” Rai had written after Edulji had questioned why the views of Kaur, the captain, and other senior members of the women’s team aren’t heeded when Kohli’s wish was granted in the past. It’s then that Edulji brought up the text messages from Kohli to Rai.
“I see nothing wrong in women cricketers writing emails reg the Coach. They were truthful in expressing their views, unlike Virat who frequently sent sms’s to the CEO on which you acted and there was a change in the coach. There also I had objected and my dissent is recorded when the timelines were extended for some one to apply as he didn’t apply in time. Mr. Kumble, a legend in his own right, was subjected to loss of face and made to look like a villain. He was gracious enough to move on for which I respect him. There also rules were broken and I had raised objections back then,” Edulji writes in her mail.
Here is the sequence of events. Last week, Karim approached three former cricketers Dev, Gaekwad and Shubhangi Kulkarni to be a part of an ad-hoc committee to look into the appointment of the women’s team coach. Powar was the interim coach till the ICC Women’s World T20 and Rai had approved the idea of inviting other applications for the role, especially after the Raj vs Powar spat.
‘Ulterior motive behind leaks’
In a series of emails, Edulji questioned Rai’s decisions and the motive behind the new ad-hoc committee after the Cricket Advisory Committee, comprising Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, asked for more time. Edulji further reiterated her opinion that Powar should continue as the coach and that the team isn’t a divided house. “But with someone’s ulterior motive, emails were leaked and the team was shown as a divided lot which they are not,” she wrote.
“The Captain (Harmanpreet) and vice Capt (Smriti) have requested their choice so why can’t we respect their choice for this tour till we get clarity on the committee. We can go ahead and continue with the same coach. The views of the 2 senior players must not be ignored. Virat did not accede to Kumble continuing inspite of CAC saying so, then why not these 2 players get what they feel is best for the team,” Edulji wrote in her email to COA chairman Rai, CEO Johri, Karim and other office-bearers of the BCCI.
Edulji also writes that she was not invited when Rai met Harmanpreet and Mithali. In her mail, she asked how Rai has failed to understand that she has an equal say in all matters of BCCI as a CoA member.
Rai did not respond to accusations of acting on text messages from Kohli, but in an earlier response in the mail chain asked why Raj’s views should not be considered.
“Yes – there were differences between Virat and Kumble. As a consequence of that, Kumble stepped back. More importantly — the team did not send emails. The team must realise that coaches are not decided on team votes. If it is a question of respecting opinions of senior players — why not respect the opinion of the seniormost player — in fact the ODI captain of the team? What I cannot understand is why some members of the team, or any other person advising them, is against having an internationally-acclaimed coach. Don’t we seek to upgrade the team from the plateau that they keep hitting in international games? Anyway we have had enough of a debate on this,” Rai wrote.