Wriddhiman Saha is adamant about not turning up for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy and only an apology from a Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) official, who had questioned the player’s commitment, can help melt the ice. This is according to people in the know, who are closely following the development.
Saha has asked for an NoC or No-Objection Certificate from the CAB that would allow him to play for a different state from the next season. It is learnt that the state association president Avishek Dalmiya has requested him to reconsider the NoC request. The two spoke over the phone on Tuesday.
Back in February, Saha had made himself unavailable for the group phase of the Ranji Trophy. It came on the heels of the national selection committee dropping him for the two-Test home series against Sri Lanka. “After scoring 61 against New Zealand at Kanpur, Dadi (Sourav Ganguly) congratulated me over WhatsApp and mentioned, ‘As long as I’m here (helming the BCCI), you would be in the team’. Such a message from the BCCI president really boosted my confidence. What I’m struggling to understand is how things have changed so fast,” the wicketkeeper-batsman had said. His decision to skip the Ranji Trophy came in its wake.
CAB joint-secretary Debabrata Das criticised Saha’s decision and publicly questioned his commitment. The player cited the illness of a family member for his unavailability. The 37-year-old made his debut for Bengal in 2007 and has 122 first-class matches under his belt. Avishek had readily distanced himself from Das’ comment, saying that it wasn’t the opinion of the state association. He reiterated that during his conversation with Saha yesterday.
On Monday, as the CAB announced a 22-member Bengal squad for the Ranji Trophy quarter final against Jharkhand, both Saha and Mohammed Shami were included. The CAB hierarchy spoke to Shami and his availability is subject to the BCCI’s clearance. Nobody spoke to the fast bowler’s Gujarat Titans teammate Saha and a top CAB official gave the reason.
“Shami is an India player and his workload management is monitored by the BCCI. The custom is to speak to India players only before the Ranji squad selection. We used to speak to Saha also, when he was in the Indian team,” he told The Indian Express.
Saha will come to Kolkata next week for the IPL playoffs, but a meeting between him and the CAB top brass is expected only after the end of the tournament. Meanwhile, a section in the CAB feels that the player is trying to “arm-twist” the state association. “When the president himself is telling him that the CAB has disowned the comment made by an individual, then Saha shouldn’t be that stubborn. Nobody is bigger than the association.”