The blame game is on! While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) insist they did not hear from the sports ministry with regards to recommendations for the Arjuna and Khel Ratna awards, the ministry says the BCCI should have looked up the internet to fill out the forms.
BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale said in a statement yesterday: “We wish to clarify that unlike every year, the BCCI has not received any forms for nominating cricketers for the Arjuna and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Awards of the Government of India.
“It has been the practice of the Sports Ministry to send the forms well in advance to the BCCI to nominate in the given format, which includes the players’ acceptance and the BCCI’s recommendation.
Under the circumstances, the BCCI is not in a position to recommend deserving cricketers for the awards like every year.”
Abhijit Rai, Officer on Special Duty to Sports Minister told PTI: “The question of sending forms to BCCI doesn’t arise as they are available on the internet. Any sports association can download it and fill it up. As of now, I am unable to provide you with further details as to why BCCI didn't send their nomination.”
Meanwhile, here are some cricketing nuggets on the Arjuna awards:
Salim Durani was the first cricketer to receive the Arjuna Award. He bagged the honour in 1961, only a year after he made his Test debut against the Australians in Mumbai.
A crowning moment in Ajit Wadekar’s career was his successful captaincy on the 1971 tours of West Indies and England, but he received his Arjuna award before his ‘claims’ to fame — in 1967.
Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, probably the highest rated among the quartet of spinners, received his Arjuna honour after his three (Erapalli Prasanna, Bishan Singh Bedi, Srinivas Venkataraghavan) spinning colleagues. Chandra was awarded the Padma Shree too in 1972.
The timing of VVS Laxman’s Arjuna award was very apt – in the year of his 281 against Australia at Kolkata
Women cricketers who have received the Arjuna award are: Shanta Rangaswamy (1976), Diana Edulji (1983), Shubhangi Kulkarni (1985), Sandhya Agarwal (1986), Mithali Raj (2003), Anju Jain (2005), Anjum Chopra (2006), Jhulan Goswami (2010).
The last Indian cricketer to be given the Arjuna award is Zaheer Khan, who was honoured in 2011.
Despite leading India to two World Cup wins (2007 World T20 and 2011 World Cup), Mahendra Singh Dhoni does not figure in the list of Arjuna awardees.