India Sports
Srikkanth alleges divide-and-rule, Dungarpur says 'no'
Apr 10, 2007 - 1:03:27 PM

New Delhi, April 10 - Former India captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth alleged in comments published Tuesday that an attempt was made in 1989 to divide the team over graded payments, but Raj Singh Dungarpur rubbished the charge.

Srikkanth said in an account published by a newspaper Tuesday that Dungarpur told him the Board of Control for Cricket in India - would back him if 'I abandoned my senior colleagues' in the team following some players' demand for graded payments. Srikkanth was then the captain and Dungarpur the BCCI chief.

'Most senior cricketers had threatened not to go to Pakistan - unless the board accepted their terms and conditions. Interestingly, I would not have been particularly affected by the graded system as despite being captain, I was neither very senior nor very junior, and would not have benefited too much or lost too much,' wrote Srikkanth in the Hindustan Times.

Contacted at his Pune residence, Dungarpur told IANS that Srikkanth was only a 'stand-in captain' for that tour and was hence replaced.

According to Srikkanth, Dungarpur, the then 'powerful chairman of selectors', was staying in the same Taj Palace hotel in New Delhi and called him - to his - room.

'He told me in no uncertain terms that if I abandoned my senior colleagues, he would give me a brand new team, a second XI of sorts made up totally of youngsters, for the Pakistan tour. He said I would have BCCI's complete backing. I refused,' claimed Srikkanth.

When told that Srikkanth has alleged that he was sacked as captain after that tour because he refused to toe the line of the chairman of selectors, Dungarpur said: 'Kindly see his scores on that tour.'

Srikkanth tallied 97 runs in seven innings of four Tests at 13.85. His highest was 36. On the entire tour, the opening batsman managed 119 runs in eight innings of five Tests at 14.87.

'Since I refused, Dungarpur was extremely upset but eventually the regular players went to Pakistan under protest, after announcing we would forfeit the tour fees. There, while I did not make many runs myself, we did very well as a team, not losing a series in Pakistan for the first time ever - a great achievement for India,' he wrote of the drawn series.

'On my return, even as I was preparing to go to New Zealand in a week's time, came the news of my being dropped not just from the captaincy but also the team. I realised that Raj Singh was very unhappy with me. That was literally the beginning of the end of my career,' he added.

Mohammed Azharuddin replaced Srikkanth on the tour of New Zealand.

Dungarpur said he would issue a rebuttal in a column that he would write on reaching Mumbai. 'It is below my dignity to respond to this. I have been a strong man. Nobody can challenge it,' he said over telephone.

'He - was sent as a stand-in captain,' pointed out Dungarpur, who is currently president of the Cricket Club of India.

The Srikkanth-Dungarpur war of words is a consequence of India's debacle at the World Cup in the West Indies. India crashed out in the first round.

The BCCI called for a series of meetings in Mumbai last week, including one of former captains, to discuss the disaster. At these meetings, Srikkanth and Dungarpur were present.

One outcome of the meeting was that the board scrapped the players' three-tier graded payment, replacing it with an incentive-based system. The details are yet to be announced.

Srikkanth wrote the Tuesday article in the context of the graded payment system, which senior players in the 1989 team like Kapil Dev and Ravi Shastri and he himself had sought.

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