Ajit Agarkar left the Mumbai team in a huff on Tuesday morning once he learnt he would not be part of the team's playing XI in the Ranji Trophy game against Orissa at Cuttack.
We've heard about how Navjot Singh Sidhu left the Indian team on the 1996 tour of England and there were rumours it was related, like in the Agarkar case, to team selection. But the Agarkar incident appears unprecedented in the history of Mumbai cricket. Zaheer Khan's show of support for his teammate is rare, but commendable.
Probably, Agarkar could have shown more patience and stayed on in Cuttack. But, times have changed and with it tolerance levels. Mumbai have won the Ranji Trophy 39 times, but a lot of aspects of the cricket need improvement. It cannot live on past glory. As the premier association in the country, the MCA must do everything in their power to get their cricket on track. The need to put this controversy behind is paramount.
There was a hue and cry after Mumbai were sent crashing out of the Ranji Trophy by eventual champions Rajasthan in the quarter-finals at Jaipur last season. There were calls to sack captain Wasim Jaffer and coach Praveen Amre. Even the Padmakar Shivalkar-headed selection committee came in for some flak.
In the absence of Mumbai Cricket Association president Sharad Pawar, Dilip Vengsarkar, the association's vice-president, called for a managing committee meeting and tried to resolve the issue by speaking individually to all concerned.
Vilasrao Deshmukh, who defeated Vengsarkar to become the new MCA president last July, has some work on his hands. Deshmukh is Minister for Science and Technology, and though it won't require rocket science to pull Mumbai cricket from depths of despair, it will take some time and effort.