Goa Cricket Association (GCA) and its president are in the news, many times, for the wrong reasons. This time, acting GCA president Suraj Lotlikar was the target and cricketer Shadab Jakati the accuser. Sports Editor AUGUSTO RODRIGUES tries to ascertain the truth in conversation with SURAJ LOTLIKAR
Q: Former Ranji cricketer Shadab Jakati through a press conference accused you of being president of GCA who knows nothing of cricket.
I do not want to comment on what he has said on me because I do not stoop low in life. In cricketing terms I would say his was a delivery bowled way outside the leg stump. His statements were like guided missiles programmed by somebody at me. Please do not expect me to come down to his level.
Q: One of the accusations hurled at you was that the GCA has no selection committee and yet players are being selected.
I do not interfere in selections. The Managing Committee had decided that cricket in Goa needs to be revived and youngsters need to be given a chance and the selectors felt the same. The selectors were of the opinion that youngsters were performing better than other players and that they were knocking at the Ranji door.
Q: What about no selection committee being in place?
The selection committee as per the constitution as recommended by the Lodha Committee has to be decided by the General Body. In the interim period, we had a panel of selectors and they are doing their job. The Managing committee does not interfere with the functioning of the panel. The General Body has to appoint a selection committee.
Q: Was Shadab’s outburst a result of not being selected or was there a political tone to it?
The GCA is a body that has members that belong to all political parties. GCA is about cricket and not politics. Those who try to bring politics into GCA lose and they normally lose very badly. It has happened before and it will keep happening.
Q: Shadab claimed that people of his age still play.
Had Tendulkar not retired, would Kohli have flourished? Everyone has to retire in life, whether it is cricket or in any field. This is an ecological process. Shadab should have realised that there is a lot more he can contribute to cricket after retiring as a player. He should not have allowed himself to be used and got carried away.
Q: Should cricketers only retire? What about administrators?
Both. I have been in GCA for the last ten years and GCA has been led by former presidents like Chetan Desai and Vinod Phadke for the last thirty years or so. We are not here to stay forever. Our aim was to build a stadium for Goa and hand over the reins to youngsters. However, instead of helping us achieve our target people have preferred to delay things by taking GCA to court. Cricket is not played in courts but on the ground.
Q: Shadab indirectly claims that he is upset because Azharuddin’s son, who has no credentials as a cricketer, is being given a chance to play Ranji and he thus gets knocked out.
The Manging Committee received an offer from Azharuddin to mentor the Goa team. We accepted the offer because a normal boy from Goa is not able to afford to pay to be in the academies started by Kohli , Tendulkar or other good academies in the country. These acadamies are financially out of bounds for the common boy. By getting in Azharuddin our boys are getting the services of one of the best cricketers of India free of charge. Do you know what Azhar did when he was training the team in Bijapur? Talking is easy. But talking the truth can be difficult.
Q: Was Azharuddins son taken because his father offered to mentor boys from Goa free?
His son is playing free. We had proposals from other players and they charge a minimum of Rs ten lakh. GCA has no money to pay these sort of players. Azhar’s son and the other boys have been clearly told by the selectors that they will be in the team based on their performance. If they do not perform, they will be asked to go. It is the boys from Goa who are going to benefit in the long run. This element is being ignored in their claims.
Q: Was it Azharuddin’s demand that his son be selected in lieu of his free services as mentor?
GCA received a list of professional players that we could select and the players were selected by the panel of selectors from this list. All we wanted was a group of players who would dedicate themselves to Goa for at least two or three years and not switch when they got bigger offers from other States. What makes you think that Azharuddin’s son is going to be a failure? What is going to stop him or the other boys selected from shining? They could shine or be failures. They will be viewed based on their performance. Let us not cast aspersions right now.
Q: Shadab described the Ranji coach selected by you as useless despite having played under him for two seasons. Your reactions
Shadab has left behind a bad example for youngsters of Goa. It is a pity that a player like him could stoop so low. If the coach was bad then it means that he was a worse as a player as it demonstrates he could not assimilate what he was being taught by the coach. He proved that he has failed as a player by trying to get the coach involved.
Q: Does GCA plan disciplinary action against Shadab for his outbursts?
We do not have a disciplinary committee. But we will be setting up a disciplinary committee soon and let them decide what to do. Some action may be taken for his stupid utterances.
Q: Former Ranji player Namdev Phadte claimed in the press conference along with Shadab that appointing professional players is bad for players from Goa?
Please ask him the number of professional players he brought in when he was the coach and what he did for Goa during his tenure as a coach. He should know to bite only what he can chew.
Q: There is talk that the GCA is being indirectly targeted again by Hemant Angle because the president of the Goa Forward Party Vijai Sardessai is not helping him get extension of service in SAG?
See, there are many members of the General Body who want Hemant to be expelled from the GCA. A majority of members want him to be thrown out of GCA because he is seen as a destructive element. Constructive criticsm is always good and accepted. But Hemant is destructive. He throws stones at trees that bear rich fruits.
Q: What is stopping the GCA?
Let the disciplinary committee be formed.
Q: When are the GCA elections due?
We have passed the amendments required as per the Lodha Committee directives and we are sending them to the BCCI for approval. Once we hear from them, the election machine will be set in motion.
Q: Do you intend to stand for elections?
I am not sure. It is too early to say anything. One thing that may keep me away is the tendency of one individual to take GCA to court for anything.
Q: How would you describe your one year tenure?
It was very good. I got the support of everyone except for the one person. The person you know and all interested in the welfare of cricket know.
Q: You have been given possession of the ground. What is your first priority now?
We will first prepare the surface for the boys to be able to start playing cricket on it. We will then think of building the stadium. Preparing the ground is our first priority.