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Former India cricketer Wasim Jaffer on Tuesday, February 9, quit as Uttarakhand coach accusing the Cricket Association of Uttarakhand (CAU) officials of selecting 'undeserving players'.
Jaffer alleged that the senior selection committee selected non-deserving players. He said that if the association's Secretary did not want to include him in taking decisions on the team's welfare and performance, there was no point in continuing as Head Coach of Men's Senior team of CAU.
Not Included In Consultation
Jaffer alleged that the selection committee and CAU secretary Mahim Verma interfered in the team selection process. Many changes were made to the team without keeping him in the loop, Jaffer claimed.
"I feel really sad for the players as I genuinely think that they have a lot of potentials and can learn so much from me but are denied with this opportunity because of so much interference & biasness of selectors and Secretary in the selection matters for non-deserving players," The Indian Express quoted him as saying.
Jaffer added that he was not invited for a meeting when the Senior Selection Committee was finalising the Vijay Hazare Trophy team. As per the norm, selectors and coaches unanimously decide a team.
He said that Rizwan Shamshad, Uttarakhand's chief selector, did not call or message him. Shamshad defended the changes he made to the team but did not respond to Jaffer not being a part of the selection process.
The day after Jaffer quit, State unit's secretary, Mahim Verma, accused the former test opener of 'favouring certain players'. Verma said that he was informed by the team about Jaffer 'communalising' the dressing room atmosphere and favouring Muslim players.
The association levelled allegations against Jaffer claiming that he tried to force selections in the state team for the T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy based on religion.
He is also accused of breaching bio-bubble rules by inviting maulvis to offer prayers. Verma said that Jaffer had invited a maulvi to the ground during a training session, offered namaz twice, and changed the team chant 'Rambhakt Hanuman ki Jai'.
"How can a maulvi enter when a bio-bubble is in place. I told my players they should have informed me earlier, and I would have taken action," Verma added.
Later in the evening, during an online press conference, Jaffer said he felt 'very sad' that he had to clarify such allegations. "It's the lowest one can go. These allegations of me being communal and giving this communal angle is sad," the media quoted him as saying.
"They said I called a maulvi and offered namaz on the ground. First of all, I didn't call a maulvi; it was Iqbal Abdullah who called him. On Friday, we needed a maulvi to offer namaz. Iqbal asked me, and I said yes. The practice was over, and we offered namaz inside the dressing room. This happened only twice or thrice, that too before the bio-bubble was put in place," Jaffer said in his defence.
He said that the players chanted no slogans. "A few players from the Sikh community used to say 'Rani Mata Sache Darbar ki Jai'. So, I once suggested that we should have something like "Go Uttarakhand" or "Come on, Uttarakhand" instead. Like, when I used to be with Vidarbha, the team had "Come on, Vidarbha" as its slogan. And it wasn't me who chose the slogan, it was left to the players," he added.
Jaffer said had he been communal, he would have directed the players to chant 'Allah hu Akbar' and scheduled practice in the morning and offered namaaz in the afternoon.
Over the allegations of selecting players based on religion, Jaffer took to Twitter saying that he had recommended Jay Bista for captaincy and not Iqbal, but the CAU officials favoured Iqbal.
"In a press conference, he had contended that it was Rizwan Shamshad and the other selectors who suggested that Iqbal be selected. I agreed to their suggestion," he said.
Amid the row, various former Indian cricketers came out in support of the legendary batsman.
Former India captain Anil Kumble said that he supported Jaffer's decision and that the loss was of the players who'll miss his mentorship.
"Unfortunate that you have to explain this," Irfan Pathan tweeted.
Former ODI cricketer, Dodda Ganesh said that Jaffer had been a great ambassador of cricket and represented India with pride. The fraternity knew Jaffer and his integrity, he added.
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