Domestic Cricket
Ajit Agarkar vs Mumbai
5 years, 7 months ago Posted in: Domestic Cricket 18
Ajit Agarkar vs Mumbai

‘The Ranji Team for the domestic one-day games had been announced, and the morning’s newspapers were carrying the line-up. I was looking for the new names that had found their way into the team. But something was hugely awry. The players I’d known would make it to the team were all on the list. The ones that got no attention in all these days of practice had been taken off the list, no surprises there. But the reporter had bungled up—big time. He had to have; why else would my name not be on a list that had carried it for over a decade now (and leading the list, thanks to the double ‘a’ in Aakash). I went over the list again. This time I read out each name, but no, there was no ‘Aakash Chopra’… Not for a moment did I consider this preposterous possibility—until now, as I sat still, blank, forced to wrap my head around the idea.

…Of course, having my name struck off the list was a huge blow. But that is how it is. No matter how brave a face a player presents, there is nothing more hurtful than being booted out of the squad. And if the agony of sitting out isn’t enough, a brutally insensitive, hopelessly despotic and utterly self-absorbed system makes the ordeal worse. Did I not — after representing the association for over a decade-and-a-half, both at the state levels and nationally — deserve, at least, some sort of a warning call? I can see those officious faces snapping back: ‘But, we don’t have to inform you!’ By the book, perhaps, you owe me nothing, sir. But as professionals, as colleagues, could you not have put an arm around my shoulder, sit me down and tell me the worst? A sorry state of affairs, indeed: a player, who has dedicated his life, his game and his name to an association, is told that his services are no longer needed by the press.’

 Please forgive me for including the excerpts from my book ‘Out of the Blue’ to start this article—it isn’t a plug for the book. The intention is to underline a dangerous trend that has been building itself up for quite a few years now—its recent kill being Ajit Agarkar. Of course, while he decided to show his resentment against it by abandoning the Ranji tour midway and speaking to the Media, I wrote a book. The point is not to launch a campaign, but to draw your attention to an utterly callous predicament that some of us veterans are subjected to. I must spell out here that the dispute is not if a seasoned campaigner deserves to be ‘dropped’ or not—that is absolutely fine—prerogative of the team management. But, simply the manner in which the inevitable is conveyed.

Yes, there isn’t a protocol dictating that you must inform the player in advance, and hence what Wasim Jaffer n co. did was completely by the book. Yet, beyond the playing field, there exists an unwritten code of cricketing brotherhood—one wouldn’t occupy the first seat on the team bus, since that is what Sachin prefers. Or, perhaps stretch yourself for a few extra throw downs if the senior wants to bat a bit more, without a frown. No protocol demands a senior to mentor a junior through his rough patch, but they still do, all the time. There’s mutual respect for each other’s skills and achievements and we go that extra yard to accommodate each other’s feelings.

Shouldn’t Ajit then, a seasoned campaigner and a veteran, have been made to sit down and informed about the decision rather than forcing it down on him at the eleventh hour? That’s the least we, as teammates, colleagues can do, really. Anyway, if Agarkar wasn’t in Mumbai’s scheme of things (which can happen and is understandable), he shouldn’t have been made to tour with the team—while it’s mostly okay and acceptable to drop a player from the playing XI, it’s an insult to make an India player sit out for a first-class game—and definitely not a player who’s taken over 300 International wickets, like in AjitAgarkar’s case.

While Ajit’s decision to catch the next flight back to Mumbai may have been a bit brash, one can hardly blame him since emotions usually take precedence over logic at such times. Zaheer too, may not have chosen the right platform to voice his opinion but to say that his assessment is way off the mark would be naïve—Sehwag did something similar with regards to Delhi a few years ago.

If Indian stars don’t play or show concern for their respective state’s cricket, we blame them for complete apathy. If they show concern and raise a stink, shouldn’t we be a bit more accommodating and restrain from dissecting their accusations? If we are really serious about improving the state of affairs, it won’t be a bad idea to drop the guard for once and bring these senior cricketers on board, for nobody knows the game and its ailments than the cricketers.

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18 Responses

  1. Nel ( @junglekamangal) says:

    Completely Agree ! Amol Muzumdar was another example..list is endless.

  2. mangesh says:

    Great piece of work aakash. be it any one a professional at work or a cricketer this is the least which can be expected.. the establishment has to wake up

  3. Sujesh Kumar says:

    But, here Ajit Agarkar was told the previous day that he wont be playing. Dont we pick Teams based on the pitch condition & current form?

    • Aakash says:

      Yes, that’s true. But there’s always more to it than meets the eye. Some players select themselves regardless of the pitch and conditions. I don’t think that the difference between Salvi and Agarkar was chalk and cheese.

  4. Srini says:

    Aakash – I was hoping that you’d comment on this issue. Just finished reading the OOTB and can understand what the seniors go through. Unfortunately, several players go through this. See what Katich is going through or what Damien Martyn had to go through. Good thing is that in India we have 27 Ranji teams, unlike Australia! Hopefully, Agarkar finds a better team that would value his contribution than the kaddoos Mumbai team!

    • Aakash says:

      Katich’s case is a classic example. While there’s a protocol in place, there must also be some sensitivity. We are dealing with humans with human frailties.

  5. srinin says:

    Isn’t this like the mother in law stereo type behavior? Many selectors nowadays are former players. And yet when it comes to dropping players w/o notice they behave differently when they were players and when they are selectors! In the govt or corporate world one is not fired and comes to know about it thru the press or a neighbor. The boss or the HR breaks the news. Ozs seem to have a better practice. Simon Katich seemed to hv been informed before the public came to know about his contract being nor renewed. Actually it looks like we can ‘learn’ from Oz behavior too;)

  6. Yash (@YashasJoshi) says:

    The player is often blamed for his actions but no one wants to give a thought to what provoked that action. Agarkar won Mumbai the Ranji trophy in Mysore in 2009 with a 5 wicket haul when Karnataka were cruising. Better communication would have avoided this. As Zaheer said, people should learn from this incident and think of player’s emotions. I am backing Agarkar to make a big comeback soon for Mumbai

  7. Vincent Sunder says:

    Whilst one feels bad for the way a senior cricketer was treated, AA should have voiced his grievance after the game. Treatment meted was surprising considering M Rege/Sulakshan are themselves 1st class players. Agarkar would have made a better case for himself by staying on inspite of his grievances. Any player abandoning the game when it is progress is bad – at any level of this game. Feel both sides have erred in this case. The one who loses more is the player, and here sympathies are with him. But deserting the side? No, nothing is lost if one waits for the game to be over.

  8. Nishant says:

    Hi Aakash, a very nice article conveying that players are humans too. It was very disappointing to read about Ajit Agarkar being left out of the Ranji team. His international days might have been over but he has been one of the more consistent performers on the domestic circuit. He might have felt hard done by being not informed, but leaving the team does not give out the right impression.
    Hopefully the association would sort out the issue. Otherwise its quite likely he might play for some other team where his experience might be more respected.

    • Aakash says:

      Exactly my point. If he wasn’t in the scheme of things, shouldn’t it be better to inform him prior the season and he would have found another association to play for.

      • Jai says:

        Hi Aakash,

        I have been following Indian cricket for almost 20 years now.

        I still am not aware how is it that a non state player gets represent another state. Like we have seen Zaheer switching over from Baroda to Mumbai of so many other cases i can think of. what are the basic criteria’s a player should meet to switch his Ranji side?

        Thank you,
        Jai

  9. Puneet says:

    Shame !! I am a great fan of Ajit Agarkar !! He got something especially the nip of the Track !! I believe he can bowl lovely out swingers with a new ball and reverse the old ball too !! I believe that he should always be there in playing eleven coz he is a wicket taker and a bit decent Batsman. Also has the ability to turn around the situation that we have already noticed many times.
    Being in playing eleven or not its a part of game but he should have been there to encourage the young blood and set up an example..

  10. Wasim says:

    I beg to differ with you Aakash. Should every player be informed before hand that he is going to be dropped. Cricket is a team game and a player’s selections is based on various parameters like current form, how be bowls in the nets, pitch and weather conditions. And i don’t think the team is selected few days earlier to the match. The playing 11 will be selected only before the match and that can be the only time a player can know of his exclusion from the side.

  11. shilpa says:

    well the MCA and Agarkar….met and kissed and made-up and aggu will play in the one-dayers….shows they value Agarkar and regretted the way it was done.
    Jaffer sacked ( ok quit politely speaking)…….and eitehr of Nayar or Rahane tipped to take over.

    all is well and that ends well

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