It was not certainly the New Year gift the fans expected from the Hyderabad Ranji squad. For, belying all expectations and hope raised at the start of the season, the team finished at the bottom of the table -- with six points from eight games -- to be relegated to the Plate Group of the national championship.
Interestingly, it was only last month it returned to the elite group, thanks to the brilliant century by N. Arjun Yadav at Nagpur, in the do-or-die match against Vidharba. The blame-game will begin soon. In desperation, the Ranji selection panel dropped “non-performing seniors” after some matches. Strangely, only a favoured few were given the long rope to perform, while many were victims of pick-and-chop policy. So much so, that 25 members played the Ranji Trophy this season.
For a regular follower of Hyderabad cricket, it is pretty obvious that the dirty politics between two powerful groups had their echo in the selection process too as those who were ‘promoted’ when the previous set-up was dictating terms were weeded out with a clear intent. In fact, even the performance of group teams (under-19 and under-16) was disappointing. Ironically, Hyderabad teams failed to drive in the ‘home’ advantage in key matches.
If someone tries to blame the curator for preparing the dead pitches what are the bosses supposed to do? It is always easy to pass the buck when something goes amiss. Well, it has been a deplorable season on many fronts. Never in its history were nine players of the under-16 squad sent back by the BCCI (from the Vijay Merchant Trophy from Vizag) for being over-aged. And worse, one player who was over-aged in that category was pushed to the under-19 team later as he is the son of an EC member.
Even on the administrative front, all is not well. In fact, former HCA secretary P.R. Man Singh wonders if there is any change in the administration after M.V. Sridhar took over. “If you look at the number of scams after the ruling group took over, it is disgusting to say the least,” he moans.
Worse never in HCA history has a treasurer dragged his own secretary and president to a Court of Law over the alleged contravention of by-laws with regard to financial transactions.