Legendary left-arm spinner, Bishan Singh Bedi, who captained Delhi to two Ranji Trophy titles in late 1970s, has asked the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) to immediate remove his name associated with a stand the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium. He has also renounced his membership of the DDCA.Former India captain Bedi's decision comes just six days before a six-foot statue of late Arun Jaitley, a former DDCA president and father of current president Rohan Jaitley, is to be installed on his 68th birth anniversary inside the Arun Jaitley Stadium. The stadium was renamed from Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium to Arun Jaitley Stadium soon after his death on August 24 last year. Bedi has cited this as one of the main reasons for his disenchantment."I pride myself as a man of immense tolerance and patience, but all that, I'm afraid, is running out. DDCA has truly tested me and forced me to take this drastic action. So, Mr President, I request you to remove my name from the stand named after me with immediate effect. Also, I hereby renounce my DDCA membership. I've taken this decision with sufficient deliberations," Bedi, 74, wrote in an 841-word long letter emailed to Rohan late on Tuesday night, and now made public."Late Arun Jaitley, I'm told, was an able politician. So, it's the Parliament and not a cricket stadium which needs to remember him for posterity. He might have been a good cricket fan too, but his dalliance with cricket administration was dubious and left much to be desired. This is not a rhetorical assessment, but a factual appraisal of his time at the DDCA. Take my word, failures don't need to be celebrated with plaques and busts. They need to be forgotten," Bedi wrote in his email, the language of which some people termed as "harsh".In 1999, Bedi had contested against Arun Jaitley for the post of DDCA president and lost. Jaitley remained DDCA president for 14 consecutive years, until December 2013, when the politician opted out as India's general elections were coming up. But Bedi's real disagreement was with the "corruption" at the DDCA led by Jaitley, not against him personally.
Bedi, a former manager of the Indian team, also pointed out to Rohan that statues at stadiums are installed of legendary players."Mr President, if ever you get to travel to the cricket stadiums around the world you will find how aesthetically-challenged Kotla is and how it lacks the grandeur of a Test centre. You need to be educated that sports administrators don't need to be self-serving. People who surround you presently will never inform you that it's (the statues of) WG Grace at Lord's, Sir Jack Hobbs at the Oval (London), Sir Donald Bradman at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sir Garfield Sobers at Barbados, and Shane Warne of recent vintage at the Melbourne Cricket Ground that adorn their cricket stadia, with the 'Spirit of Cricket' never out of place," he said."So, when the kids walk into these stadiums these majestic statues/busts enhance and enliven the inspiring stories of these past heroes that their elders tell them. Sporting arenas need sporting role models. The place of the administrators is in their glass cabins."Bedi, a stickler for discipline, further wrote that since DDCA didn't understand this "universal cricket culture", he wanted to walk out of it."I can't be part of a stadium which has got its priorities so grossly wrong and where administrators get precedence over cricketers. Please bring down my name from the stand with immediate effect. You needn't worry about me or my legacy. God Almighty has been very kind to me to keep me alive with my cricketing convictions. I don't wish my strength of character to be maligned by my silence or association to this unsporting act," he said.A senior DDCA official said that Rohan, currently out of Delhi to attend the Indian cricket board AGM, would try and meet Bedi at his residence soon after he is back."Our president will take time from Mr Bedi and go and meet him, and try and convince him to take back his decisions. He is scheduled to return on December 25, and the meeting may take place the next day. We will make every effort that he takes back his decisions. The naming of a stand at a stadium and installation of a statue are two different issues.
Also, the public loved Bedi and appreciated his game and that's why a stand was named after him; the public made him a star. So, he should respect public sentiments as well," the official told IANS.Bedi is disappointed and angry at the way the DDCA is functioning under Rohan. The proverbial last straw seems to be the manner in which the Delhi senior selectors for the 2020-21 season were chosen recently, through a process that was ambiguous, particularly the bar on the upper age for aspirants. The age bar of 60 years ruled out former Delhi Ranji Trophy-winning captain Kirti Azad, 61, who had applied for the job. Azad is close to Bedi.Soon after Azad got disqualified by the age cap rule, Bedi, in his capacity as president of the National Capital Territory Cricket Association, lodged a complaint with DDCA Ombudsman Badar Durrez Ahmed on the "unfair implementation" of rules that led to Azad being not invited for an interview.Since then the DDCA has reportedly apologised to Azad, and an order from the Ombudsman may come soon. But Azad is unlikely to be called for an interview as the domestic cricket season is set to begin on January 10 and the DDCA has to select a team and send the names to the Indian cricket board.Spectators' stands in the name of Bedi and his former India and Delhi teammate Mohinder Amarnath were named at the then Ferozeoshah Kotla in November 2017 at an impressive function, at which almost all former Delhi captains, including Virat Kohli, were honoured.Bedi, who also represented Punjab in domestic cricket earlier, captained Delhi to two Ranji Trophy titles in late 1970s, and always championed the cause of cricketers. He has been a strong advocate of fair play and transparency in cricket administration, and therefore he had his disagreements with late Jaitley when the latter was DDCA president.
Bedi -- and Azad -- alleged rampant corruption was the order of the day under Jaitley's leadership, but never alleged anything against him personally."My reservations about the choice of people he handpicked to run the day-to-day affairs of the DDCA is well-known," Bedi reminded Rohan in his email. "It pains me no end to point out the far-from-flattering facts about DDCA's unsavoury past, but trust me it has a context. I was not raised to carry on the fight to the next generation. But I was also taught that if I firmly believe in taking a stand I must stick with it. But sadly this is how it has unfolded. Keep in mind, these are the ills of nepotism, you get blamed for decisions you weren't part of and you can't even give the excuse of absence."Bedi, like many other people in Delhi cricket circles, felt that things would change under Rohan, who is just 31 and has ideas for betterment of the game and administration in the national capital."As I observe now, even in your leadership DDCA's court culture of fawning obeisance continues," he wrote. "Now I gather a statue of late Arun Jaitley is going to be installed at the Kotla. I'm not at all enamoured with the thought of a statue of Arun Jaitley coming up at Kotla."The six-foot tall statue would be installed on a three-foot high platform inside the Arun Jaitley Stadium at the Ferozeshah Kotla grounds. It is likely to be unveiled by union home minister Amit Shah, provided the prevailing Covid-19 rules for gatherings allow him to visit the stadium, said a source.