The chorus for sending the Indian to compete in the Champions Trophy got stronger on Thursday as 12 renowned former cricketers spoke up in favour even as the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), administering the BCCI, asked the team to be selected “immediately”.
Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Zaheer Khan, Gundappa Viswanath, Sandeep Patil, Sanjay Manjrekar, Aakash Chopra, Ajit Agarkar, Venkatesh Prasad, Saba Karim, Murali Kartik and Deep Dasgupta – all former Test players – were unanimous that the Indian team should compete and defend the Champions Trophy, starting on June 1 in England. These players told cricinfo.com that the Indian team should be sent for the second most important tournament after the 50-over World Cup.
BCCI was the only board to miss the April 25 deadline, set by the International Cricket Council, for sending the teams. Still, the BCCI is unlikely to be penalised.
The BCCI has officially not explained the reason for missing the deadline. But it is well known that BCCI is currently at loggerheads with the Shahshank Manohar-headed ICC over the share of revenues that the world body will distribute amongst its member countries for the 2015-2023 commercial cycle.
The BCCI has convened special general body meeting on May 7 in Delhi and it is expected that a final decision on India's participation would be taken then.
Meanwhile, CoA chairman Vinod Rai wrote to acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary also on Thursday and asked him to convene a meeting of the selection committee to pick the team for the Champions Trophy.
“There has been more than enough negativity surrounding Team India's participation in the ICC Champions Trophy and the sooner the same is put to rest the better,” Rai reportedly wrote in the email.
After reminding him about the BCCI missing the deadline, Rai wrote: “Please convene a meeting of the selection committee for selecting the squad immediately. The squad can then be submitted to the ICC without prejudice to BCCI's legal rights.”
Rai pointed out that the Indian team should get the opportunity of defending the title it won in 2013.
“We believe that any decision taken at the SGM should be predicated on the fact that India has the best team in the world today. Team India should be provided with a supportive environment to showcase Indian cricket instead of being surrounded with uncertainty and confusion. The players' interests are paramount and they must be given the best chance to prepare for, defend and retain the ICC Champions Trophy,” the former CAG said.
“The focus should be on enabling our team to achieve even greater heights and further laurels, which will automatically attract higher revenues. The BCCI appears to have lost sight of the fact that it attained a pre-eminent position in the ICC not by a combative approach but by building consensus and ensuring a positive image, including by helping other cricket boards in their time of need,” he said.