Mumbai chief selector distances himself from sacked CIC members over interference claims

A few days after the two sacked members of Mumbai Cricket Association’s Cricket Improvement Committee (CIC) – Lalchand Rajput and Raju Kulkarni – claimed to the MCA ombudsman that selectors were ready to testify in their favour, the chairman of selection committee Salil Ankola has distanced himself from them.

Rajput had alleged that the secretaries interfered in CIC matters and included players in the final eleven without the selectors’ approval.

Ankola – a former India pacer – said neither Rajput nor Kulkarni has spoken to him on this issue and that he has not agreed to testify in front of Ombudsman Justice Vijaya Tahiliramani.

“This is to inform about the recent series of allegations made by the Cricket Improvement Committee on ‘interference of secretaries in the selection process’. There have been recent media reports on Mr Lalchand Rajput and Mr Raju Kulkarni stating that ‘selectors’ are willing to testify for the interference to the MCA Ombudsman,” Ankola said in a statement.

“I, as a chairman of the selection committee for Mumbai Cricket Association, would like to place it on record that I have never spoken to Rajput on the above issue. Neither I have given any consent to testify in front of anyone. As a chairman of the selection committee, I have been transparent and always kept Mumbai’s interest above anything else.”

Ankola’s statement comes after Rajput and Kulkarni submitted a petition to the MCA Ombudsman, contesting their removal from the CIC.

Rajput had written that the CIC dissolution is not the right of the Apex Council/office-bearers, and the ombudsman should pass an interim order to reinstate the dissolved CIC. He also wanted the new appointments to be declared invalid.

“Selectors are willing to testify for the interference: e.g. inclusion of 2 players in 20 selected by senior team selectors for Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021 (SMAT) after BCCI allowed 22 players due to Covid, instead of 20. The same 2 players were included in the playing 11 in the SMAT in some matches. Also, a left-arm bowler who was not in the original 20, who was a number 11 batsman, was made to open the innings in the SMAT,” the petition reads.

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