New Delhi: Former India opener Wasim Jaffer, the highest scorer in Ranji Trophy history, has said he played cricket with dignity, and doesn’t need to explain himself in the controversy surrounding accusations of “communal bias” against him.
Jaffer was speaking to ThePrint Thursday, two days after resigning as head coach of the Uttarakhand team, and called the allegations a “cover-up” by the Cricket Association of Uttarakhand.
Jaffer pointed out that he was brought up in Mumbai and had a lot of respect for all religions and cultures.
“I have played my cricket with a lot of dignity for the Indian cricket team as well as the Mumbai and Vidarbha teams. I don’t need to come out and explain myself,” he said.
But he did put up a point-by-point rebuttal of these allegations on Twitter.
1. I recommended Jay Bista for captaincy not Iqbal but CAU officials favoured Iqbal.
2. I did not invite Maulavis
3. I resigned cos bias of selectors-secretary for non-deserving players
4. Team used to say a chant of Sikh community, I suggested we can say “Go Uttarakhand” #Facts https://t.co/8vZSisrDDl
— Wasim Jaffer (@WasimJaffer14) February 10, 2021
Fellow India internationals like Anil Kumble, Irfan Pathan, Dodda Ganesh and Manoj Tiwary leapt to Jaffer’s defence on social media.
Former captain and the country’s highest Test wicket-taker Anil Kumble said: “With you Wasim. Did the right thing. Unfortunately it’s the players who’ll miss your mentor ship.”
With you Wasim. Did the right thing. Unfortunately it’s the players who’ll miss your mentor ship.
— Anil Kumble (@anilkumble1074) February 11, 2021
Former all-rounder Pathan, who has been targeted by a section of social media trolls time and again, said it was unfortunate that Jaffer had to explain himself.
Unfortunate that you have to explain this.
— Irfan Pathan (@IrfanPathan) February 11, 2021
‘Was excited to be coach, feel sad for players’
Wasim Jaffer, 42, played 31 Tests and 2 ODIs for India, scoring five Test centuries. He became the highest run-scorer in the Ranji Trophy in 2011, overtaking former teammate Amol Muzumdar, and still holds the record of 12,038 runs in India’s premier domestic tournament.
He was appointed head coach of the Uttarakhand team in June 2020, but resigned Tuesday, accusing CAU officials of interfering in team selection and pushing “non-deserving players”.
“This was my first stint as a head coach and I was very excited. Uttarakhand was a new team (in domestic cricket) and I saw great potential for improvement. I worked with so many players and have seen so much potential. Those are the people I wanted to push forward,” he told ThePrint.
Accusing officials and selectors of too much interference, Jaffer said: “I was not saying you pick all the players I suggest. I was ready to sit down and have a talk and convince them. However, for the Vijay Hazare Trophy, they changed the captain and players without even telling me. They went ahead and declared the team without even speaking to me. Selectors do not spend as much time with the players as the coach does.”
Following Jaffer’s resignation, CAU secretary Mahim Verma said he had got feedback from the team that Jaffer had “communalised” the dressing room atmosphere and “favoured” Muslim players. These allegations included inviting a maulvi inside the bio-bubble, and a selection bias in favour of Muslim players. But Jaffer labelled them “cover-up stories”.
In a press conference Wednesday, Jaffer had said: “If there was indeed a communal bias, I wouldn’t have resigned, they would have sacked me.”
He added that he never called a maulvi to the dressing room, nor did he chant a particular slogan or stop anyone from saying “Ram-bhakt Hanuman ki jai”. In fact, he said because the team was playing for Uttarakhand, he thought the slogan should be “Go Uttarakhand” or “Let’s do it Uttarakhand”.
About the support he has received from the cricket community in the face of these allegations, Jaffer said: “It was very nice and heartening to see people come out and support you and take a stand for you. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.