WILL THE real Bihar under-19 cricket team please stand up? The last few weeks have seen two teams from the state taking guard, hoping to be part of the BCCI’s season-opening Vinoo Mankad Trophy.
The confusion is a result of intense infighting between two groups, each headed by politicians associated with the BJP, and both claiming to be representing the Bihar Cricket Association (BCA).
Former state BJP treasurer and BCA president Rakesh Tiwary says they have short-listed 135 junior players and will be naming the squad on September 14 after a camp. But that might be a bit too late, as the rebel group, led by former MLA and state BJP spokesperson Prem Ranjan Patel, has already mailed the names of the ‘Bihar under-19 squad’ to the BCCI.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Tiwary, who had attended the last BCCI AGM, said: “They (Patel) have nothing to do with the BCA, the players who went for their trials are not even registered by the BCA. They have no recognition, no office, and no official email address. When was their election held? Who are their members? There are people who just want to create nuisance.”
However, Patel insists he is the BCA president. “Last year, out of 38 districts, 28 had called an emergency meeting where we removed Tiwary from the BCA president’s post and nominated me as president of the association,” he says.
“We conducted selection trials and players from each district took part. We have been updating the BCCI about our activities. I’m BCA president, it’s my duty to conduct selection trials. We have sent the names and the BCCI has to decide what to do,” says Patel.
Asked about the standoff, BCCI secretary Jay Shah told The Indian Express the board “will look into the matter and we are not going to tolerate this kind of activity”.
Meanwhile, the selection process to pick the state junior side has led to a show of political strength. The poster for the state-level under-19 camp, put out by the Tiwary faction, was more of a political invite and prominently featured Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishore Prasad. Others on the poster included two state ministers, one MP and four MLAs.
Earlier this year, the Bihar cricket body had figured in another controversy by holding a T20 league without proper permission from the BCCI. Within a month of getting pulled up by the board, a group of BCA officials floated plans to conduct another T20 tournament, and even announced the dates before the BCCI intervened. The board scuttled the proposed league and said it would only allow a non-franchise tournament in states with no private individuals as team owners.