Prolific domestic scorer Sarfaraz Khan’s surprise exclusion in Team India setup for the upcoming West Indies tour drew sharp criticism from former players. Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar questioned the logic behind having the Ranji Trophy if performance in the country’s premier domestic tournament is not looked into while picking the Indian red-ball teams instead of taking into account the players’ record in the IPL.
Amid all the buzz, a BCCI official defended the move claiming that Sarfaraz’s below-par ‘fitness level’ as well as alleged ‘off-field conduct’ has influenced the decision. For a player who has been in phenomenal touch with the willow in domestic cricket over the last three years, a snub from the selectors has left most furious. However, people associated with Mumbai cricket have come to the defence of the middle-order batter.
“The angry reactions are understandable but I can tell you with some degree of certainty that the reason behind Sarfaraz getting ignored time and again is not just a cricketing one. There are multiple reasons for which he hasn’t been considered,” a BCCI official privy to selection developments told PTI on conditions of anonymity. “Are the selectors fools to not consider a player who has scored 900-plus runs in successive seasons? One of the reasons is his fitness which isn’t exactly of international standard.”
“He has to work hard, maybe shed weight and come back leaner and fitter as it’s not just batting fitness that is the sole criteria for selection,” the source added. “His conduct on and off the field hasn’t exactly been top notch. Certain things said, certain gestures made and some incidents have been taken note of. A bit more disciplined approach would only do him a world of good,” the senior official added.
Sarfaraz`s gesture of pointing finger towards the dressing room after scoring a crucial hundred against Delhi in the previous season was not appreciated. It was perceived as a dig at one of the selectors watching the match. Watch the video below.
Hundred and counting! 💯
Yet another impressive knock from Sarfaraz Khan 👏👏
— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) January 17, 2023
“Sarfaraz`s celebration during a Ranji match in Delhi was meant for his teammates and coach Amol Mujumdar, who had doffed his hat. The selector present was Salil Ankola and not Chetan Sharma. Sarfaraz took the team out of pressure situation and the celebration was one of relief,” a source close to the cricketer told PTI on Monday. “Is it even wrong to be exalted in your celebration and that too when you are pointing towards your own dressing room,” he remarked.
There was also an incident where apparently MP coach Chandrakant Pandit was not happy with his attitude but the source said that Pandit always has been affectionate towards him. “Chandu sir treats him like a son. He has always had good things to say about him and knows him since he was 14 years old. He would never be angry on Sarfaraz,” the source said.