The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) made a statement today that Wriddhiman Saha had refused to play for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy knockouts. Sources said that Saha had left the Bengal Ranji team WhatsApp group.
“The Cricket Association of Bengal wanted Wriddhiman Saha to play for Bengal at this crucial juncture, especially when Bengal would be fighting in the knockout stage in a bid to win the Ranji Trophy after becoming the top-ranked team in the country at the end of the group stage. I had expressed this to Wriddhiman and requested him to reconsider his decision. However, Wriddhiman has now communicated to us that he is not willing to play the Ranji Trophy knockouts,” CAB president Avishek Dalmiya said in a statement.
The reported decision of Saha is the latest development in the acrimonious termination of his remarkable career for Bengal cricket that started in 2007. Bengal will play their Ranji Trophy quarter-final against Jharkhand in Bangalore on 8 June.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Saha (37), who has played 122 first-class matches, had earlier applied for an inter-state no objection certificate (NoC) from the CAB. “What to do? If he is that stubborn, we have to give him. But nobody should try to arm-twist the state association, as it is bigger than any individual,” a top CAB official said.
A member of the Bengal cricket team’s coaching staff said: “I will not comment about Saha’s decision to pull out. But now that the picture is clear, we can plan accordingly.”
Previously, Saha had decided not to play in the group stage of the Ranji trophy following his exclusion from the Indian test team for the two-match home series against Sri Lanka in February. CAB joint-secretary Debabrata Das had slammed Saha’s decision and publicly questioned his commitment while Saha had taken a strong exception to the comment from the CAB official, citing the illness of a family member for his inability to play Ranji.
After a 22-member Bengal squad was announced for the match against Jharkhand, with the wicketkeeper-batsman included, the latter had a conversation over the phone with Avishek where he cited the joint secretary’s statement as an excuse.
Saha said that the selectors should have a word with him, as they did with Mohammed Shami before picking the squad. “The CAB president repeatedly told him that the state association disowned the comment. Still, Wriddhiman refused to budge. And the custom is to speak to Indian players only before the Ranji squad selection. We used to speak to Saha too when he was in the Indian team” said the official.
Saha was not picked for the one-off test in England, but he has had a good outing in the IPL for Gujarat Titans, scoring 312 runs from 10 matches.