Odisha Sun Times Bureau:
Bhubaneswar, Dec 28:
BCCI on Saturday night debarred Odisha born left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha from bowling in competitive matches for a suspect action. Following the apex cricketing body’s decision, he will be heading to Chennai for taking corrective measures. However, fans see a conspiracy in it.
The BCCI decision has come as a setback for the cricket lovers in Odisha. While some smell a deliberate conspiracy, the cricketing fraternity has a different view on this.
The sports body officially informed Ojha’s home state association, Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA), that his action needs remedial measures and, accordingly, he was withdrawn from the team’s Ranji Trophy home encounter against Services starting today.
Meanwhile, HCA secretary John Manoj has admitted having received an electronic communiqué from the BCCI.
“Yes, the BCCI did send us a letter informing about its decision that Pragyan needs to undergo a rehabilitation programme concerning his bowling action. However, they haven’t intimated us about the timeframe. Pragyan is still in Hyderabad but will head for Chennai soon,” John informed media today.
Notably, Pragyan’s action has been under scanner for over a year. Former Test umpire A V Jayprakash, a member of the BCCI’s committee to eradicate suspect bowling actions, had first brought this to everybody’s notice. Following Jayaprakash’s claims, which came during the Duleep Trophy, Pragyan started bowling in half-sleeves during the last Ranji Trophy season. Throughout the three matches he played for Hyderabad, Pragyan bowled his arm-ball, a delivery which is believed to have brought his bowling action under the scanner. Pragyan Ojha has been at times criticised for wearing full sleeves while bowling in order to hide the elbow kink which is above the permissible limit of 15 degrees.
‘‘Bowlers do come under umpire’s scanner for suspect bowling action. It’s not a big deal. The bowler has to undertake corrective measures in order to pursue his career again. I hope Pragyan Ojha would get a green signal from the ICC and would achieve success in competitive cricket again,’’ Jaiprakash said in his reply to newsmen.
With BCCI announcing Grade B retainership status of Rs 50 lakh in recently announced annual contracts, everybody presumed the doubts had been laid to rest. THat is why yesterday’s decision has surprised many. Pragayan is the quickest Indian bowler to reach to 100-wicket milestone. He has taken 113 wickets from 24 Test matches and 21 wickets from 18 ODIs. He also played 6 T20 Internationals in which he got 10 wickets.
It may be recalled here that Pragyan is not the first Odisha spinner to have come under BCCI scanner. Another off spinner from Odisha, Kulamani Parida who played for Railways, was also under scanner for suspect action in 2009. Incidentally a year later, Parida announced his retirement after his bowling action was deemed suspect for two consecutive Ranji seasons.
‘‘Pragyan has been the quickest bowler to have entered the 100-wicket club. I smell a rat in it. I suspect that it’s an attempt to scuttle his cricketing career,’’ Tapas Mohanty alleged.
‘‘Pragyan is a promising player. Many players do face hurdles in their career. This allegation is nothing new. Legendary spinner Bisen Singh Bedi had also cast doubts over Pragyan’s bowling action. He can always prove his critics wrong and I am optimistic that he would clear it with flying colours,’’ former cricketer Pradosh Mohanty said.