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December 23, 2000

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'Gavaskar needs to be careful' -- Dungarpur

Faisal Shariff

Former BCCI chief Raj Singh Dungarpur is on the warpath. And his anger is raising quite a few eyebrows -- and prompting a few sly chuckles as well -- among the legion of former cricketing greats who have assembled at the Cricket Club of India to take part in a match against the Parliamentarians.

"Of course we will," Dungarpur said, when asked whether the Board would accept Sunil Gavaskar's resignation from the the post of director of the National Cricket Academy. "A person's stature is not the issue. This man had the audacity to walk into a meeting and throw his letter across the table, at me and at the president.

Raj Singh Dungarpur "No man should consider himself so big as to be indispensible," Dungarpur railed. "There is no reason for us not to accept the resignation Gavaskar has tendered."

For those who came in late, Gavaskar at the end of a stormy showdown with Dungarpur on Friday night, tendered his resignation from the Board's flagship project, the National Cricket Academy.

The Board had, it will be recalled, organised a fixture between an NCA XI and the visiting Zimbabwe team, as part of the warm-up games before the two-Test series.

At the time, Gavaskar had written in his column that that there were other cricketers as well who, while not being part of the NCA, were young enough and deserving enough of a chance to showcase their talents.

Dungarpur hit back when, in course of an interview to an eveninger, he argued that Gavaskar had no business saying something on those lines, given that he himself was a member of the NCA. Someone who, while being part of the Academy, was still critical of its activities should resign, Dungarpur suggested.

That triggered an escalation in the war of words. Gavaskar in turn walked into an NCA board meeting at the CCI last night, and argued that different criteria were being applied to different people. "Dungarpur has criticised the board in a press conference," the former India star pointed out, "whereas I have not done any such thing here."

He then tendered his resignation. Or, as Dungarpur put it, "flung his resignation letter across the table."

The war continued. "He is a man who made 36 not out in 60 overs in a World Cup match in 1975 and, while captaining India, tried to walk out during a Test in Melbourne in 1981," Dungarpur shot back.

Gavaskar, referring to a recent television interview given by Dungarpur, came back with, ""People who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others. Mr Dungarpur is a self-confessed failure" -- a reference to Dungarpur's admission during the interview that he had been a failure as Board president.

Just before leading the CCI team back onto the field in the ongoing match, Dungarpur paused to fire his own retaliatory salvo: If I live in a house with glass windows, Gavaskar lives in a sheesh mahal (glass palace)," Dungarpur said. "He needs to be very careful of what he is saying."

Dungarpur and Gavaskar of course have a bit of history going -- fans will remember the famous war of words that erupted between the two during the 1999 World Cup. This latest instalment, thus, comes as a sequel.

Bystanders such as Kirti Azad and Ravi Shastri, to name just two, have been reacting with amusement to the war of words.

"Shorty is hopping mad," a former cricketer commented, with a laugh.

But it isn't only 'Shorty' -- or Sunil Manohar Gavaskar -- who is livid. Raj Singh Dungarpur, celebrating his 65th birthday, has been frothing at the mouth. And informed opinion is that much mud will be thrown, by both protagonists, before this particular faceoff comes to an end.

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