CHENNAI: On a day Goa ended Pondicherry’s hopes of making it to the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals, J Arunkumar denied claims that he had quit as Pondicherry coach due to health reasons. Arunkumar was coach until the previous match and the Cricket Association of Pondicherry (CAP) said he had resigned on medical grounds.
Arunkumar, a former Karnataka captain, pointed finger at a former CAP official for his “constant interference” in team selection and cricket-related matters that created tension in the dressing room. Arunkumar first cleared the air on Twitter with a couple of posts saying that he had resigned because of health reasons.
“There was so much interference that players were told which number to bat, what time to go, who should bowl. It’s not his (the official’s) job. That’s the coach’s job.
The XI and the XV would be changed without informing me. He was telling the boys ‘you are a failure’ and calling them ‘a disaster’ if they did not do their job on the field. He was demoralising them. The team will never enjoy cricket under such circumstances,” Arunkumar said.
The former official countered that Arunkumar was indeed unwell. “He was supposed to be with us for 200 days. But because of health issues, he couldn’t. Before the Chandigarh game, he fell sick and returned home.”
However, there are allegations that throughout the season — which saw Pondicherry reach the Vijay Hazare Trophy quarterfinals and win five Ranji fixtures — there were instances of officials interfering in cricketing matters.
The tipping point was changed in the squad prior to the Chandigarh match, where five players were dropped without informing the coach. Implications of Arunkumar stepping down could be bigger, as it is learned that outstation professionals Paras Dogra and R Vinay Kumar will not seek an extension of their contracts.
A few Pondicherry players confirmed that the team was badly treated by this CAP official. “The whole set-up looks more like a business model where an official keeps abusing us even if we fail in one inning. We are told not to pull, drive or cut. If we play those shots, the official threatens to drop us for the next match,” a player told this daily on condition of anonymity.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)