Suspended cricketers Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul on Monday tendered “unconditional” apologies for their comments during a popular TV chat show amid Committee of Administrators (CoA) chief Vinod Rai saying that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should correct the two players, not end their careers. However, despite the apologies tendered by the duo, 10 BCCI units demanded a Special General Meeting (SGM) to appoint an ombudsman for carrying out an inquiry. Rai’s fellow CoA member Diana Edulji wants an inquiry done by cricket panel and the BCCI office-bearers.
“Yes, Hardik and Rahul have submitted their reply to the fresh showcause notices that were served to them. They have tendered unconditional apology. The CoA chief has instructed the CEO to conduct an inquiry as per clause 41 (c) of the new BCCI constitution,” a senior BCCI official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
Edulji fears a “cover up” in the controversy, triggered by Pandya and Rahul’s much-condemned statements on Koffee with Karan in which they spoke about hookups with multiple women and being casual about it even with their parents. The comments have been described as “inappropriate” by India skipper Virat Kohli.
Brought back midway from the tour of Australia, Pandya and Rahul’s immediate fate hangs in balance with World Cup 2019 less than four months away. Rai, in an e-mail to Edulji, said that the “BCCI is not in the business of ending young careers”.
“Please be assured that the desire to conduct the inquiry is not a desire to ”cover up”. The interest of cricket in India has to be kept in mind. The off the ground act of the players was deplorable. It was crass as I said immediately after reading the comments,” Rai wrote.
“It is our responsibility to reprimand them, take corrective action, sensitise them of their misdemeanour and then get them back on to the ground once they have suffered the consequences,” he said.
The former CAG stated in his mail that players have been “shamed” after being recalled from an international tour, the ongoing ODI series against Australia, and principles of natural justice demands that they be heard.
“We have shamed them by recalling them from an ongoing tour. We have suspended them from further games. We need to correct them and not bring their career to a cul de sac by indefinitely delaying a decision. These misdemeanours require swift action, with a corrective approach,” he added.
The road to redemption for the duo could prove to be a tricky. Rai has instructed BCCI CEO Rahul Johri to carry out a preliminary inquiry but board members along with Edulji want otherwise.
Rai justified Johri initiating the probe, citing the BCCI constitution. Edulji feels Johri, because of past allegations of sexual harassment against him, should not be entrusted with the task.
“The CEO must fulfil his duty as per Rule 41(C) and conduct the inquiry after receiving the explanation of the players. He must ensure that the norms of natural justice are fulfilled,” Rai said.