Former Ranji players and other cricketers representing Himachal Pradesh Monday openly came out against Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) president Anurag Thakur, who is also a BJP MP, alleging that his "company always watched the interests of non-Himachali players".
Led by former Ranji captain Vijay Sain, over 100 former and present cricketers under the banner of their newly-formed body "Cricketers Welfare Forum", met Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in the morning to appreciate the bold stand of the government to clean the mess in the HPCA and demanded for fair and transparent elections to a new cricket body.
The cricketers told the chief minister that the election of the new cricket body should be held in transparent and democratic manner.
Anil Sain, another former captain, Rahul Panta, a Ranji player, and other players Naveen Tanwar, R.R. Roohi, Kailash Aggarwal, Yashwardhan Chauhan and Keny Chauhan accompanied Vijay Sain to the meeting with the chief minister.
Sain later told reporters that there was no reason for euphoria over cricket infrastructure in the state, where there was no effort to promote the game at the grassroots.
He said the "credit for giving funds for the stadium in the state goes to the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI)".
"On its part, the HPCA has grossly failed to bring Himachali players to the forefront. For the past over decade, the inter-district cricket matches are also not being held so that the real sports talent could come forward," he said.
Sain named the non-Himachalis players turning up for Himachal in Ranji Trophy matches. "They are Vikram Jeet Malik, Waquar Ahmed, Bipul Sharma, Abhinav Bali, Prashant Chopra and Karamveer Singh," he said.
Sain asked the HPCA president why did he created a category of "life members" - 25 in number - who have not contributed anything for cricket in the state till date.
"Eight of them are from Jalandhar and seven from Delhi and Haryana."
He said in July 2001 Thakur nominated his father Prem Kumar Dhumal, then the chief minister, as the chief patron of the HPCA with voting rights. This again was never heard of, he added.
"In 2002, Anurag brought his cousin Vikram Rathore, the then captain of Punjab Ranji team to lead Himachal in the Ranji Trophy, citing that this will improve the standing of the team in the national championship. But the net result of this was that the team got relegated from the elite group to plate group, which is lowest in standing," he said.