MUMBAI: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had to face some sweet-chin music on Monday when a city judge on Monday asked whether the cricket board had "bought the game of cricket" in the country.Judge ND Deshpande of the City Civil Court raised the question after an advocate appearing for
the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) argued that the BCCI, which is a private body, "controls all games of cricket and all the maidans [in the city] can be used only by BCCI affiliates".
The MCA counsel was arguing against a case filed by Nikhil Mandale, an aspiring cricketer from Ruparel College, who was barred from competitive cricket, including the inter-collegiate cricket tournament of Mumbai University, because of his association with Essel Sports Private Limited.
Mandale sought a permanent injunction against the MCA, the university, and Ruparel College, restraining them from obstructing him from playing in cricketing events. He said the ban would hurt his cricketing career. "After all, the state and national teams are picked from amongst the best college and school players," he said.Lawyers Dinesh Gandhi and Ashok Sarogi argued that Mandale’s fears were real and born out of the overt hostility he experienced on February 12 at the hands of MCA secretary Hemant Waingankar at an inter-collegiate match at the National Club grounds.
Mandale said that during the match between Ruparel College and HR College, the umpire, for no reason, asked him to leave the field. When he refused, Waingankar "forcibly removed (him) from the field", saying the university had debarred him from playing inter-collegiate cricket.
But advocate Sagar Talekar, appearing for the university, told the court that "no such instructions were ever given". Talekar did not, however, deny that the entire Ruparel College team had since been banned from inter-collegiate cricket because of Mandale’s association with Essel Sports.
"Contrary to common perception, the BCCI is a private body but acts like it is a statutory authority for cricket in India," said Sarogi. "It chooses the national team for international matches, so any bias is bound to affect the national interest and the aspirations of an individual’s sports career."
Advocate Nihar Ghag, appearing for Essel Sports, argued that aspirants chose to associate with Essel as cricketers of note – Kapil Dev, Brian Lara, Tony Greig, Dean Jones, and others – had collaborated with the company to guide young cricketing careers through scientifically designed training methods.
The judge has ordered the MCA to file a written reply to Mandale’s contentions by April 7.