Railways at a standstill as top cricketers sacked over ‘indiscipline’

NEW DELHI: The Railways cricket team will have a completely different look this season. The team’s longtime wicketkeeper and captain Mahesh Rawat, spin allrounder Ashish Yadav and pace spearhead Anureet Singh are among more than 14 players who have been left out of team for the Ranji Trophy.

editorial@tribune.com

Vinayak Padmadeo

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6

The Railways cricket team will have a completely different look this season. The team’s longtime wicketkeeper and captain Mahesh Rawat, spin allrounder Ashish Yadav and pace spearhead Anureet Singh are among more than 14 players who have been left out of team for the Ranji Trophy.

Rawat was the team’s top-scorer last season with a total of 478 runs, including two hundreds and a healthy average of 53.11. Also missing from the list — which is yet to be published but has been accessed by The Tribune — of 15 players is seam bowler Abhishek Mishra, who played three First-Class matches last year and snared 19 wickets.

The players allege that they are being targeted on false charges, including that of indiscipline, to keep them out of the team after 15 of them met the chairman of Railways Board, Vinod Kumar Yadav, seeking redressal of their grievances on November 4. They met Yadav after they were ignored for both Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

The players said after they met Vinod Kumar Yadav, only one among them, Avinash Yadav, has been selected to represent the Railways for the 2019-20 season. Avinash was the team’s highest wicket-taker with 41 scalps last year. “We were not told to report for the Ranji camp that started on November 28,” said a senior player. “We knew they wanted to keep us out because we raised some serious allegations against Railways Games coordinator (Sanjay Kumar), and about unethical practices of our selectors,” he added.

After the November 4 meeting, another meeting was called by Sushant Mishra, the Railway Board secretary. In this meeting the players were assured that they would be given a fair chance of selection and were told that a trial match would be held.

“They did not hold any trial match, and instead they went ahead and selected a completely new team,” said a senior player.

Meanwhile, Anureet, knowing that he was not in contention, applied for a No Objection Certificate (NOC) needed to represent another Ranji team. To everyone’s surprise, the NOC was handed within hours.

‘Vigilance complaint’

Amidst this turf war, a vigilance complaint was registered against Railways Games Coordinator Sanjay Kumar. The complaint also questioned the selection committee — comprising Santosh Saxena, Kulamani Parida, Shreyas Khanolkar and Javed Zaman — for selecting players who were not part of the training and conditioning camp held in Visakhapatnam.

The complaint alleges that pace bowler Vikas Tokas, who played for Delhi in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Tournament recently, was allowed to rejoin his Northern Railways squad. “All this wouldn’t have been possible without the consent of higher authorities,” the complaint letter reads. Another case that has been highlighted is of Keshav Kumar, who played the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Bihar but was called for the Railways’ preparatory camp for the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament. “It appears the players didn’t have a valid NOC. How can these officials allow such a scenario to happen?” said another senior player

Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) secretary Prem Chand Lochab said the board doesn’t interfere in selection matters. “We have no say in selections,” Lochab told The Tribune

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