New Delhi: Former opener WV Raman's unceremonious ouster from the Indian women's team head coach's position has opened a can of worms with both the Madan Lal-headed Cricket Advisory Committee and Neetu David-led selection panel coming under the scanner of BCCI bigwigs.
Raman, who successfully coached the women's team to T20 World Cup final in Australia and is widely acknowledged as one of the best Indian coaches, was removed by Lal and Naik's CAC, which reinstated Ramesh Powar, who was removed from the same post in 2018.
Is committee illegal as per Lodha norms?
"Maddi paaji (that's how Madan Lal is addressed in Indian cricket fraternity) celebrated his 70th birthday on March 20, 2021. The BCCI, in its appeal to Supreme Court against some of the reforms, doesn't ask for roll-back of age-cap of 70 years. So how come Madan Lal was allowed to sit in CAC meeting?," a senior member asked. While the BCCI has no intention of using its veto to over-rule Lal and Naik, the board's top officials are unable to wrap their heads around as to what led to recommendation of Raman's removal.
Sulakshana Naik's role in CAC meetings
Former India player Sulakshana is the younger sister of Mumbai Cricket Association secretary Sanjay Naik. She has so far attended three CAC meetings for various appointments. Someone who is abreast with how the eight interviews were conducted said that it felt as if Naik had made up her mind that Raman had to be removed for just one bad series, despite knowing fully well that selection was not in his hands and it was done by her ex-teammate, Neetu David's panel.
"One surprising question that Raman was asked was how can he claim credit for women's team reaching T20 final as this is a team that was prepared by Ramesh Powar," the source said.
The line of questioning, according to the official, was clear that the platform was set for Powar to be reinstated. "Even if we presume that Ramesh and Mithali Raj had problems back then and it wasn't good enough ground to remove Ramesh, does two wrongs make a right," he questioned.
"If you go by the argument Sulakshana gave during Raman's 45-minute presentation, by that logic, Ramesh is inheriting a team that Raman prepared," he countered.
Did Raman and Neetu David have a fall-out
The PTI has confirmed from multiple sources that Raman had red-flagged the kind of squad that David, Arati Vaidya, Renu Margrate, Mithu Mukherjee and V Kalpana picked for the South Africa series, for which teen batting sensation Shafali Verma was not picked for the ODIs and senior pacer Shikha Pandey was inexplicably dropped. While, both David and Raman couldn't be contacted for corroboration, it is understood that the BCCI nowadays records all selection meetings. The just-removed coach didn't approve the changes. The selectors said that Pandey was unfit because she hasn't worked hard on training during lockdown and was overweight.
"But when they were asked to prove their point, they couldn't simply do it," the official alleged. In the case of Shafali, her fielding was questioned and put forth as the reason for her non-selection in the ODI team. "If Raman had a counter-question that if Shafali's fielding is a problem for 50-over cricket, then it is bigger problem in T20 format where it is more important. Then how is she being selected in T20 format," the official asked.
The selection of leg-spinner C Prathyusha and left arm seamer Monica Patel has also been questioned as they didn't look ready for the rigours of international cricket.
Prathyusha gave 60 odd runs in 8 overs in one of the games.
"How did Monica get selected over Shikha Pandey?" is a question that is being asked.
Counter points against Raman
While the majority believe that the stylish southpaw of yesteryears has been hard done by, there are a few critics who feel that there were some loose ends from his side too.
"Some girls complained that he will at times switch himself off during training sessions. Also some girls felt under-appreciated. Someone like Rajeshwari Gayakwad was not even once praised despite she being the best bowler during the series," a member from the anti-Raman camp said.
Another allegation against Raman is that he unwittingly gave gloveswoman Nuzhat Parween a debut cap without knowing that she has already played both ODIs and T20Is for India.
"How come a coach forgot that one of his players have already played. To be fair to Neetu, was Raman also doing his homework."
Prima donna culture needs to end
Ousted Indian women's cricket team coach WV Raman has written to BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, alleging that there is a prima donna culture in the national team and it needs to change.
In the mail that has also been marked to National Cricket Academy head Rahul Dravid, Raman has also offered to present a roadmap for women's cricket in the country, if asked.
"As far as I know, Raman has said that he has always believed in team being placed above everybody else, and insisted that no individual can really be a prima donna," a said source privy to Raman's mail.
The stylish former left-hander's crisp letter to the two former captains is sure to ruffle a few feathers given that it has always been the coaches who have either stepped aside or sacked following fallouts with players, most notably ODI captain Mithali Raj.
While Raman's letter didn't name anyone, it is understood that he has spoken extensively about the star culture that prevails in the team, which he said is probably doing more harm than good.
While repeated calls to Raman went unanswered, a source in the know of things did admit that a mail to both Ganguly and Dravid has gone out.
It is learnt that Raman has written about certain individuals who need to place the team above self.
"Raman has asked Dada (Ganguly) that if a past accomplished performer feels constrained by this culture, then he (Ganguly) as a former India captain, should take a call on this matter, whether the coach is asking for too much," the source added.
Raman, it is learnt, is dismayed by allegations that he is not proactive as a coach. He has recalled how he oversaw three training sessions (for Trailblazers, Velocity and Supernovas) between 1 pm to 9 pm in humid UAE conditions during the last T20 challenge.
"In case the president and secretary want to hear his opinion on allegations about his work ethic, he can explain."
The letter has been copied to Dravid because Raman sincerely believes that he can contribute towards building a roadmap for Indian women's cricket.
"When it comes to building a coaching manual or a training program for cricketers, it is the NCA which takes charge.
"So if Raman has any inputs with regards to training modules for upcoming women cricketers, the best person certainly is NCA head Rahul Dravid," the source said.