Wankhede curator Sudhir Naik has written a strongly-worded letter to BCCI calling for action against Indian Team Director Ravi Shastri and bowling coach Bharat Arun for abusive behaviour during the fifth and final one-dayer against South Africa here.
The controversy started when South Africa posted a mammoth 438 for four in the series-decider and Shastri is said to have passed a sarcastic remark to Naik about the nature of the pitch. Naik alleged that the director also abused him, but Shastri has denied the claim.
According to Naik, the Indian team management had wanted a rank turner and wanted a specific part of the pitch to be watered. But the instructions were conveyed to the curators only a couple of days before the match.
“Whenever international match is there, we get a message from BCCI (Team Management) at least 10-12 days in advance about their requirements. This time we did not get any message. So we prepared a good batting track. Two days before the match, we got the message that they want a turning wicket.
“Wicket was already prepared hard with good binding. Whatever possible to do now was done, like no watering, cutting of grass at zero level and very little rolling,” Naik was quoted as saying in the letter.
“Team management wanted us to water only good length area one day before the match. We as curators felt it is not advisable as two different shades will be seen. Also BCCI curator Mr. Dhiraj Parsana advised us not to put water.”
Naik, a right-handed opening batsman who represented India in 3 Tests and 2 ODIs in 1974, also alleged that Arun had misbehaved with his assistant Ramesh Mhamunkar. The 70-year-old asserted that such incidents can become a spoiler between the BCCI and the state associations.
“After the first innings Mr Ravi Shastri said to me ‘Well done Sudhir, very good wicket’ to which I said thanks. Then he abused me and went in the dressing room. We also have a complaint against Mr Bharat Arun Kumar also. He was after my assistant Mr. Ramesh Mhamunkar and coaxing him to put water on the pitch. On the day he started firing him saying ‘you don’t listen to me, I have been calling you since yesterday night. Why aren’t you receiving my call?’,” Naik wrote.
“I would like to ask management, who is Mr Bharat Arun Kumar and what right does he have to fire my assistant? His job is to coach bowlers, immediately after Mr Ravi Shastri abused me, I went and informed the incident to Mr Dilip Vengsakar (Mumbai Cricket Association vice-president) and Prof RS Shetty (game development manager, BCCI). Such trends will spoil the harmony between Associations and BCCI. I request you both to reprimand both Mr Ravi Shastri and Mr Bharat Arun,” he concluded.