Former Test opener Sudhir Naik has ended his 10-year streak with the Wankhede Stadium for which he was consultant curator. Naik was overseeing ground operations at the Churchgate Test venue as well as the Sachin Tendulkar Gymkhana in Kandivli and has informed the Mumbai Cricket Association that he would not be available from June 1.
"I've had enough of this back-biting from Nadim Memon (former Wankhede curator, now in charge of the MCA's ground at BKC), who I have heard keeps on saying that I am not doing my job well. The Wankhede Stadium has been getting awards for the last three years. Doesn't that mean a good job is being done? My role as consultant is to ensure the curators and groundsmen do a good job at both venues during BCCI matches and I've done that," said Naik.
India's 1974 opening batsman added: "When somebody in the Mumbai Cricket Association managing committee (Memon is on the panel) keeps talking ill and nonsense about you, it's time to quit. My role as consultant doesn't entail being at the ground the whole day. My job is to oversee the preparation of the plot and improve conditions."
Memon told mid-day that Naik didn't take kindly to Memon's objection to Naik getting a major share of the financial rewards for groundsmen awarded by the BCCI. "I have a lot of respect for Naik. After all, he is a former cricketer, but I fought for the groundsmen and felt that they deserve a larger share for their efforts while Naik was being paid for his services. This time, he wasn't given a share of the prize. I also feel he is upset because he got only a two-month extension in his contract and not two years like the other ground staff. And he doesn't visit the Kandivli ground.
Naik (70), who was paid Rs 50,000 per month, has been credited for getting the Wankhede Stadium ready to host three games in the 2011 World Cup including the final in a crisis.
The preparation came heavily into focus and Naik was quoted as saying that if not for then International Cricket Council president Sharad Pawar, the final would have been shifted out of Mumbai. But Naik and his team got the venue ready in quick time.
Naik is hurt that his contribution has gone unnoticed. "Even in 1996 when I helped produce a good strip and outfield for the India vs Australia World Cup match, I didn't get any credit.
"The then managing committee members walked away with all the plaudits. Remember, a crane fell on the ground a few days before that match and we got the ground in perfect shape with a lush green outfield," said Naik.
In a crisis...
Naik took charge of the ground from 2005 after the ICC took a serious view of the November 2004 India vs Australia Test at Wankhede which ended in three days with a 13-run win for India.