New Delhi: There was some off-field drama in the lead-up to Day Three of the fourth Test between India and South Africa on Saturday.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. Pic/PTI
The Delhi government had announced that they would felicitate the 1983 and 2011 World Cup winners who represented the city in domestic cricket along with legends Bishan Singh Bedi and the late MAK Pataudi before play on Day Three. Instead, the ceremony was called off at the 11th hour.
Not here, please
A Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) official revealed that the Delhi government was keen to have the ceremony on the field of play. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was to honour the 10 players and go over to greet the school children in the Eastern Stand.
However, the BCCI communicated to the government late on December 4 that the field of play wasn't available for such festivities once the game had kicked off. The rules prohibit a ceremony of this nature once the match is in progress.
Apart from that, the Delhi Police raised security concerns over the CM's proposed walk into the Eastern Stand to greet school children. Delhi Police's letter to the DDCA Vice-President said, "In such a scenario, there is every likelihood of children leaving their seats and try to race to the Hon'ble Chief Minister which may lead to stampede and any untoward incident."
Due to the security concerns and the field of play rules, the BCCI had suggested that the ceremony be conducted elsewhere and presented three other locations within the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.
The police too advised the CM to stay at the designated areas and not venture near the stands. "It is therefore requested that the visit of the Hon'ble CM and Dy CM may kindly be restricted to only the designated function area within the prescribed time limit before the commencement of play," the Police wrote to the DDCA.
A BCCI official said that the government was still eager to do it on the field of play and once it was very clear that it wasn't possible, they cancelled their plans.
Justice Mukul Mudgal, the High Court appointed observer for this Test at DDCA, expressed his anguish.
Speaking to the media, Mudgal said, "I am sorry that I have tried my best but since DDCA is an affiliate of the BCCI it is bound by its directive and I am not in a position to change the location of the event directed (as) the Test match is a BCCI event. I have made suitable arrangements to ensure a location in the ground befitting the occasion."
Bedi, the former India captain, had arrived at the ground for the ceremony, but left once he got the news of the cancellation. The other players who were to be felicitated were Virat Kohli, Ashish Nehra, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Mohinder Amarnath, Sunil Valson, Kirti Azad and Madan Lal.