Something is rotten in the state of cricket in Bihar 

The incident of two teams lining up for a Ranji game is a sad commentary on their state of affairs

Representative image
Representative image

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The opening day of Ranji Trophy 2024 action on Friday saw Bihar cricket grabbing headlines for all the wrong reasons. It’s not that such examples of two teams from the same state or unit turning up don’t have precedents in Indian sport, but it throws open the sordid state of the game in Bihar – which had been in wilderness not so long back for more than 15 years. 

When the state of Bihar was bifurcated back in 2001, the powers that-be in BCCI de-affiliated the Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) and recognised the newly formed Jharkhand Cricket Association (JCA) as the official representative of the region. However, it was thanks to a recommendation of the Justice R.M.Lodha Commission, instituted for ringing in reforms in Indian cricket, which ordered Bihar to be reinstated in 2016 with all the facilities of a member state. 

However, Friday’s incident is certainly not going to do any favours to the reputation of BCA, which seems to be wallowing in powerplay, litigations at the expense of the cricketers. 

The Moin-ul-Haq Stadium in Patna, venue of the Bihar-Mumbai game, witnessed the bizarre incident of two teams turning up for the match – both claiming to be the ‘official’ one. One side was picked by Rakesh Tiwary, the BCA President and a promninent member of the state unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while the other one was by BCA secretary Amit Kumar. Incidentally, both Tiwary and Kumar were elected in the 2022 elections of the state body. 

The presence of two teams – with not a cricketer being a common choice in both teams –  caused a commotion which led to a delayed start to the game after heated exchanges and a scuffle between the BCA officials, which required intervention from the local police. The BCA, in an official statement, later said: “There was a life-threatening attack on BCA’s OSD Manoj Kumar by those involved in the fake team. The miscreants have been identified and action will be taken against them.” 

What has led to the power struggle inside the BCA, which saw them making a mockery of themselves in front of the Indian cricket fraternity? Speaking to the media, Tiwary claimed that his selection committee has picked up the team ‘on merit’ and the other team – been picked up by the secretary who is suspended - has no locus standii. Kumar, meanwhile, alleged that the president has been running the BCA like his fiefdom and indulged in ‘blatant favouritism’ to select the state teams. 

Speaking to National Herald over phone, Kumar said: ‘’You may have noticed in the national media that the poor infra structure at Moin-ul-Haq Stadium is being criticised. The media should ask the president about how the BCA has utilised the BCCI grant to the tune of Rs 25 crores – there will be no satisfactory answer to it.’’ 

 Asked to explain about the ‘suspension’ that Kumar is facing, the BCA secretary said: ‘’I won the election and I am an official secretary of the BCA. You can’t suspend a secretary. On the contrary, Paras Nath Rai, Ombudsman and Ethics Officer of the BCA has cancelled the candidature of the BCA president (Tiwary), vice president (Dilip Singh) and treasurer (Ashutosh Nandan Singh) on constutional grounds in a judgement dated August 25, 2023. The state body has been asked to host fresh elections.’’  

Does the saga bear a resemblance with what the happenings at the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI)? It does, and this is where one expects the BCCI to crack the whip on one of it’s state bodies for failing to get their act together!    

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