DDCA president sacks selection committee; Delhi’s results seeing constant dip since last four years. Saurashtra crushed Delhi by 214 runs in round 4 Ranji Trophy 2022-23 game. Delhi placed at 7th place in Elite, Group B.
The president of the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA), Rohan Jaitley sacked the state’s senior selection committee just days after reports of disagreement within the panel and ‘dubious selection’ made their appearance. The voice has been raised against the disapproval of the manner in which the selection panel was discharging their responsibilities.
It has been noted that the selection committee that consisted of former national selector Gagan Khoda, Mayank Sidana and Anil Bhardwaj, had a public fallout on January 3, 2023, leading to Sidana leaving the meeting midway to pick Delhi’s Under-25 squad for the upcoming Cottari Kanakaiya Nayudu Trophy fixtures.
The panel also had disputes on a number of selections made for Delhi’s Ranji Trophy squad for their away game against Saurashtra in Rajkot, which they went on to lose by an innings and 214 runs inside three days.
The manner of selecting players under scrutiny
With the sacking of these three persons, the DDCA’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising of Nikhil Chopra, Gursharan Singh and Reema Malhotra will appoint the team for the remainder of this season.
“The issue of manner in which players are being selected and replaced at the drop of a hat has become the talk of the town,” Rohan Jaitley penned down in an email to DDCA’s apex council and CAC members. “Recently in a meeting, it was informed that a replacement was sent for a senior player who was stated to be injured, the replacement while reaching there was also declared to be injured and another replacement was sent.”
Jaitley has also expressed displeasure at the selection committee who are constantly picking 20-22 players when the direct mandate of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) allows only 15 members travelling for each game.
“Despite clearly informing the committee that the number of players shall be restricted to 15-16 players, the committee has time and again recommended 20–22-member squad for each team.” Jaitley narrated. “Therefore, these committee are not only doing disservice to the DDCA but also to the game of cricket.”
The most disheartening part of the whole dilemma was the way in which Delhi’s Under-25 coach, Pankaj Singh, wasn’t permitted to be a part of the selection committee convened meeting by the secretary.
“To my mind, it’s most important not only that the head coach attends each and every selection committee meeting, his views must also be taken into consideration before taking any final decision on the selection,” Jaitley spoke on how odd Delhi’s team selection had been in the recent past. “This attains much more importance once the selectors wash their hands off by commenting that ‘we select team and the coach selects the playing eleven.”
Drop in Delhi’s domestic cricket performance season by season
With all the noise going on on the outside, the domestic cricket performances of Delhi is getting worse day by day. The top-notch standards in quality of cricket that Delhi used to boast of has dropped quite a bit of late.
1st in Group
2nd in Group
3rd in Group
2nd in Group
3rd in Group
2nd in Group
5th in Group
6th in Group
8th in Group
4th in Group
7th in Group (Ongoing)
During the 2019-20 season of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT), Delhi topped their group that consisted of some powerful teams like Gujarat and Saurashtra; even though they were knocked out of the tournament when they lost their ‘Super League’ qualifying game against Rajasthan at the CB Patel International Cricket Stadium in Surat by a small margin of 2 runs.
In the very next season, Delhi finished second in their group that consisted of some weaker teams in comparison to them like Puducherry and Haryana, apart from Mumbai. In the next two seasons in 2021-22 and 2022-23, Delhi finished third and second, respectively.
Even in the 2019-2020 season of Vijay Hazare Trophy (VHT), Delhi finished third in the group stage but lost their quarter final game against Gujarat. They got knocked out in the preliminary quarter final during the 2020-21 season. The 2021-22 season was a nightmare for them as they finished fifth in their group, before ending on the sixth position in the recent 2022-23 season.
In the red ball format of Ranji Trophy during the 2019-2020 season, Delhi finished eighth in their group before the next season was postponed due to Covid-19. In the 2022 season, Delhi without a victory in three games finished fourth in their group, before being placed number seven in the ongoing 2022-23 season of Ranji Trophy.
Delhi not producing top players for Indian side
Delhi has always been a super powerful team in domestic cricket which has produced so many quality cricketers for the national side. Going back in time, India had the likes of Madan Lal in the past who had been superb for India.
In the recent 15-20 years, India were blessed with some iconic openers in the form of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, while in the bowling department, they had Ashish Nehra and Ishant Sharma. In the past era, the greatest gift for India was Virat Kohli who with his enthusiasm and energy has driven India to new highs in the game.
But since 2018, when Rishabh Pant made his debut for India, there is hardly any player who has played for India coming from Delhi; Navdeep Saini played a few games but he has been inconsistent with his form and injuries in recent times.
“There was a time when the Indian team would have at least 4 to 5 Delhi players. The situation today is such that we can’t name even a single player whom we (the management as well as the selectors) perceive as a potential candidate for the national team,” Jaitley responded.
Systemic issues making it tough for Delhi
The systemic problems for Delhi’s domestic cricket with some surprising decisions are making it tough for them to survive in the recent times. They have appointed young U-19 World Cup-winning skipper Yash Dhull as the captain of Delhi, a side which is full of some senior players, for the 2022-23 season. Dhull should have been given much more time to focus on his own game rather than been loaded with the extra pressure to take some difficult decisions on the game with the leadership hat. The non-selection of Anuj Rawat too came under the scanner.
“There is absolute lack of planning for Delhi cricket as is apparent, more so with regard to the vision and future course as discussed and planned,” Rohan Jaitley was frustrated on the selectors who didn’t do their job even after being given a free hand and full support. “It’s unfortunate that the selection committee has shown scant commitment to the same.”
Jaitley also came down heavily on Gagan Khoda, the outgoing chief selector for not attending trial games.
“In case the selectors are busy in their personal work and are unable to attend the selection process, which is a time-sensitive matter, it would have been prudent for such selectors to inform the DDCA about their preoccupation and inability to continue,” said Jaitley.
It was apparent that the selectors were engaged in their personal affairs more than serving Delhi cricket which with every season is going down in terms of outcomes.
Delhi will now face Arunachal Pradesh in their fifth game of Ranji Trophy 2022-23 at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi.