Kochi: Kerala cricket team’s preparations for the new season began on a stormy note with a group of players demanding the removal of captain Sachin Baby, accusing him of being selfish, arrogant and temperamental.
In a letter a letter submitted to the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA), which was signed by 13 members of the team, the players questioned the ‘authoritarian’ ways of Sachin. The 29-year-old southpaw, who led Kerala to the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals for the first time in history last season, was retained as captain for the 2018-19 season as well.
The letter addressed to the KCA secretary has been signed by former captains Sanju V Samson, Rohan Prem, Raiphi Vincent Gomez, and players including V A Jagadeesh, Abhishek Mohan, K C Akshay, K M Asif, Fabid Farooque, Mohammed Azharuddin, M Sandeep Warrier, M D Nidheesh, Salman Nizar and Sijomon Joseph. Though their names were included in the list, the letter does not bear the signature of P Rahul and Vishnu Vinod.
The state team is currently participating in the K Thimmappiah Memorial Cricket Tournament in Bengaluru.
“When the team wins, he (Sachin) takes credit and when it loses he puts the blame on the team members. He has always been speaking ill of the players who are very much disturbed, demoralised, hurt and are losing focus. Some of the players who were part of the team that reached quarterfinals last season opted to play for other states this year because of the ill-treatment meted out to them by the skipper. All of us feel the need for leadership change which will serve the best interests of the team,” the letter said.
The rebellion in the team erupted during the team’s tour of Sri Lanka recently as part of the preparations for their forthcoming season. It is said that the problems started after the captain spoke harshly to a pacer for turning up late for training ahead of one of the friendly matches in Sri Lanka. The issue grew into revolt when the team members, led by some of the senior players, decided to take a collective stand against the captain, seeking his removal from the post.
It is also said that the ouster of former KCA president and Idukki District Association president T C Mathew also had a direct impact on the latest developments within the team. Sachin, who also hails from Idukki, was made captain when Mathew was the KCA president. It was alleged that the move to strip Sachin of captaincy had the blessings of a particular district association. There are unconfirmed reports that the letter sent to the KCA by the players was drafted by the office-bearers of the aforementioned district body.
The names of all the players, expect Sachin, were listed in the letter addressed to the KCA, but it is not clear why two of the team members chose not to sign the complaint.
Meanwhile, the KCA authorities have said that a decision on the letter seeking the removal of Sachin from captaincy will be taken after consulting head coach of the Kerala Ranji Trophy team Dav Whatmore.
“The issue is of a serious nature. However, we will not endorse this kind of behaviour as it would set a bad precedence. The team under Sachin reached quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy and the semifinals of the national T20 championship. A decision on his future will be taken only after giving him an opportunity to explain his position. The team’s productivity and unity are of utmost importance,” the KCA officials said.