New Delhi: The Delhi government was on Saturday left red-faced after a proposed ceremony to honour the state’s cricketers – including the stars of the 2011 and 1983 World Cup winning squads – during the fourth India-South Africa Test at the Kotla here was cancelled at the last minute, leading to huge embarrassment for both officials and former players.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal along with deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and others were to take part in the function, and even had plans to meet schoolchildren in the eastern stands. The controversy arose over the event’s location. While the state government wanted it held on the field itself – ahead of start of the day’s play – the Board of Control for Cricket in India said it violated rules.
International cricket rules do not allow access to field of play once a match is in progress, and a denial from ICC match referee Jeff Crowe stalled the plan. The state government was given permission to hold the function inside the stadium premises and was offered three choices – the bay area, Hill A and Hill B near the stands — which they turned down.
Legendary spinner Bishan Singh Bedi had arrived at the venue early in the morning, while recently-retired batting great Virender Sehwag was on his way. Veteran actor Sharmila Tagore, wife of late India captain Tiger Pataudi, too had left home to attend the function.
The Delhi government, which had announced its intention to felicitate the players days in advance claimed it had got the go-ahead from the match referee and Justice (retd) Mukul Mugdal, who is the court-appointed overseer for the Delhi Test on Friday night.
Said Justice Mudgal here, “I am sorry, I have tried my best but since DDCA is an affiliate of the BCCI it is bound by its directive and I am not in a position to change the location of the event directed as the Test match is a BCCI event governed by it.
“However, I have made suitable arrangements to ensure a location in the ground befitting the occasion. Please do come and do the event.” Justice Mudgal added. Concerns were also raised by the Delhi police of a possible stampede like situation. They sent a letter to DDCA vice-president Chetan Chauhan on Friday night requesting that the function be held in a designated area.
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