Former India batsman Wasim Jaffer on Wednesday rejected allegations by Cricket Association of Uttarakhand (CAU) officials that he tried to force selections in the state team for the T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy on the basis of religion. Jaffer, who was Uttarakhand coach, resigned from the position on Tuesday, citing interference and bias of selectors and the association's secretary for choosing players.
Uttarakhand won just one out of five matches in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and were eliminated in the group stage. Among allegations levelled against Jaffer was that he had recommended bowling all-rounder Iqbal Abdullah's name for captaining the team. The former India Test batsman said that he had, on the contrary, recommended batsman Jay Bista's name for captaincy and Abdullah was recommended by the CAU secretary Mahim Verma and chairman of selection committee Rizwan Shamshad.
"I told them that we need to make Jay Bista the captain. I said that he is a young player and I want him to lead the side. They agreed. But on arrival, Shamshad and Verma said that let us make Iqbal the captain. I said okay. Make him [captain]," Jaffer told IANS.
"It is very sad. I had written everything in my email. Obviously, they gave no reply, so they are looking to divert it by levelling [communal] allegations against me," he further said.
Jaffer also said that there was a lack of communication betwene him and Rizwan-Verma, and they made wholesale changes to the team after the dismal performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy without taking his inputs.
"When we came back from Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the selector and secretary Verma took out the team. Changed the captain. Made 11 changes, they didn't even tell me (and) announced the team. So, I said how will this go on. You are not even asking me and not talking to me. That is the reason why I resigned. They do not want to take my inputs. Don't want to see what I want to see and do," said Jaffer.
"The secretary tells me to talk to him directly. When I call him, he doesn't respond. The chairman of selectors never calls me. Never speaks, never messages me. Where do I stand? Who do I speak to? The chairman of selectors doesn't speak, secreytary doesn't speak. CEO doesn't have that power. The two main people don't talk to me and then you go ahead and pick the team. Change the captain and don't inform me and the team appears in paper," he further said.
Jaffer also said that he had not dissuaded players from chanting "Jai Shree Ram" and "Jai Hanuman" in team huddles as the players never made these chants in the first place.
"First all of, these slogans [Jai Shree Ram or Jai Hanuman] were not there. When we were playing practise matches, these players inside the huddle used to say 'Rani Mata Sacche Darbar Ki Jay.' I didn't hear them say Jai Hanuman, Jai Shree Ram. It is a chant of the Sikh community and we had two people from there, so they used to say that," he said.
Jaffer said that when the team reached Baroda, the venue for their league matches in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, he had recommended that they use chants of 'Go Uttarakhand' or 'Let's do it Uttarakhand' or 'Come on Uttarakhand'.
"...the way Chandu Sir (Chandrakant Pandit) used to do in Vidarbha, that was the idea since the 11-12 players in the team huddle were from a different faith. The allegations are all false and baseless. If there was a communal angle, I would have told them to say Allah-hu-Akbar," he said.
Jaffer played 31 Tests for India, scoring 1944 runs. He is also the all-time highest run scorer in the Ranji Trophy with 12,038 runs between 1996 and 2020.
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