The chairman of the BCCI’s national selection committee Chetan Sharma landed in a major coup after he disclosed behind-the-scenes talks regarding team selection and also made startling revelations on star batter skipper Virat Kohli’s alleged feud with former Board President Sourav Ganguly, to a television channel, during a sting operation aired February 14.
Chetan Sharma claimed that alleged straned relationship between Ganguly and Kohli involved ‘ego issues’.
The chief selector claimed that Kohli had started considering himself “bigger than the Board” and had tried to “hit back” at the former BCCI president as he felt that Ganguly had removed him from ODI captaincy.
“When the player becomes popular, he considers himself to be bigger than the Board and thinks that nobody can touch him. He feels that cricket in India would stop without him. But has that ever happened? Some of our biggest cricketing stars came and went but cricket remained the same. So he (Kohli) tried to hit back at the (former) president at that time. It was a damaging controversy. It was a classic case of a player going against the BCCI. The president represents the BCCI, isn’t it? As to whose fault it was will be judged in time but it was an attack on the BCCI. All our players are discouraged from doing this because the loss will be theirs as everyone will go against them even if the president is at the fault. There has to be some respect for the chair,” said Sharma during the sting operation.
He further claimed that ahead of the 2022 India tour of South Africa in January, Kohli brought up the matter of being removed from ODI captaincy on purpose in front of reporters because he felt that Ganguly had played a role in removing him from leadership in the 50-over format. He also accused Kohli of lying in front of the media about being removed from ODI captaincy without any communication, in order to defame Ganguly.
“Virat was going to South Africa as captain (of the Test side). Press conferences should be about team matters and not selections. There was no need to bring up this topic (Virat being removed from ODI captaincy) during the press conference. But he did so intentionally. He felt that he had lost his ODI captaincy because of Ganguly. Ganguly hold told reporters that he had asked him not to step down (as ODI captain) but Virat claimed before the media that the president never said this to him. This created a major controversy,” Chetan said.
“Ganguly had told him once during a video conference to think it (stepping down as ODI skipper) over. But Virat did pay heed. There were nine people at the conference, including all the selectors. I am not sure if Virat heard Ganguly correctly. Ganguly later claimed that Virat lied to the media about him. As to why he did so, nobidy knows. It is his personal matter. It sparked off a controversy and matters escalated to the extent where it became an issue of a player against the Board,” Sharma said.
“Rohit Sharma had volunteered (to take over ODI captaincy). It was an ego clash. Virat felt he was removed from captaincy by Ganguly and wanted to teach him a lesson. So he made the statements to the media to defame him. But it backfired on him,” added the national selector.
He said the reason why Kohli was removed from ODI captaincy was that the Board did not want two skippers for two-white ball formats, but rather one for red-ball cricket and another for white-ball cricket.
“Removing someone from captaincy is the job of selectors. We removed him the ODI captaincy as we wanted to have one white-ball captain. This is normal procedure and even he (Kohli) knows it. After Virat announced that he was giving up the T20I captaincy, the selectors made up their minds to remove him from the ODI captaincy as well,” said Sharma.
“The Board and the selectors sits with the captain before removing him from the job. Virat knows this and this is why he felt that Ganguly had a big role in his removal from ODI captaincy. But the thinking of selectors was different. We wanted separate captains for red-ball and white-ball formats,” the chief selector added.
Chetan Sharma also shed new light on the relationship between Kohli and current all-format skipper Rohit Sharma, who had earlier been alleged to share a strained relationship.
“There is no rift. It’s just media speculation. When there are two big leaders in a team, there could be an ego clash every now and then. It is like Amitabh Bachchan ji and Dharmendra ji. It is just ego. The media made up stories that weren’t true,” Sharma said.
The chairman of selectors further revealed that both players have supported each other in their bad times.
“Rohit had supported Virat the most when he was going through a lean run. When Rohit fell into a similar crisis of confidence with the bat, Virat supported him,” said Sharma.
Both players will be seen in action during the second Test against Australia in Delhi, which starts on February 17.