rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Cricket » Why Sidhu walked out of the 1996 England tour

Why Sidhu walked out of the 1996 England tour

Last updated on: October 26, 2011 08:04 IST

Why Sidhu walked out of the 1996 England tour

     Next

Next

Former India opener Navjot Singh Sidhu walked out of India's 1996 cricket tour of England because he thought his captain, Mohammed Azharuddin, was constantly abusing him, a new book by former Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Jaywant Lele claims.

The tour is remembered for the infamous walk-out by opener Sidhu, citing differences with his captain, but the exact reasons have never been spelt out by the persons in the middle of the unsavoury drama or the Indian cricket board.

- Lele's memoirs: 'Kapil forced Sachin change follow-on decision'

Lele has now revealed in his autobiography I was There - Memoirs of a Cricket Administrator that Sidhu could not stomach the constant bad mouthing of Azharuddin and abandoned the tour in a huff without being aware that the swear words used by the then skipper were commonplace in his home town Hyderabad and no disrespect was meant.

Finally, it was Mohinder Amarnath, a member of the panel that probed the matter, who managed to coax him to reveal the real reason for his tour walkout, says Lele in the book.

Lele has recalled that the Board had conducted an enquiry into the incident and nothing came out in the first meeting of the special committee in Mumbai, where Sidhu refused to reveal the reason.


Image: Navjot Singh Sidhu at Old Trafford
Photographs: Getty Images
     Next

'Sidhu was firm that it was his mistake to return'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The panel comprised then BCCI chief Raj Singh Dungarpur, I S Bindra, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar and Lele, its convenor.

"Each committee member tried his best to extract the reason. Sidhu was firm that it was his mistake to return in this manner and he was prepared to face the consequences," Lele wrote.

"By that time, the team had returned from England on completion of the tour. Manager Nagaraj, captain M Azharuddin, physio Ali Irani and some team members were also called but all expressed ignorance about the reasons for Sidhu's strange behaviour.

"Finally we thought of replacing a committee member with another former but Punjabi-speaking player who could probably unearth the truth by getting friendly with him and by talking to him in his own language," writes Lele.


Image: Raj Singh Dungarpur and Jaywant Lele
Photographs: Getty Images
Prev     Next

'We replayed the tape-recorded depositions of players'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

"Gavaskar paved the way for Mohinder Amarnath. Sidhu was summoned again to the Taj Palace in New Delhi. We replayed the tape-recorded depositions of players and officials to convince him. He stubbornly repeated his stand. Mohinder apparently got upset.

"On seeing the deadlock, Raj Singh announced a short break and glanced at Mohinder. As planned, Mohinder got up, held Sidhu's hand and told him to accompany him for a stroll.

"We waited for Mohinder's return expectantly. But to everyone's surprise, when they returned after about 20 minutes, Mohinder was holding Sidhu's hand and was laughing. Sidhu was looking at him rather nervously. Everyone in the meeting was more puzzled. After overcoming the amusement, Mohinder recommended to the committee that we forget about the incident. He said nothing had happened," Lele goes on to add.

Later, revealing the reason to the four BCCI panel members, Amarnath told them, on condition that it should be kept within the four walls, that only with a lot of prodding could he coax out from Sidhu the reason for his walkout.


Image: Navjot Singh Sidhu
Photographs: Getty Images
Prev     Next

'Ultimately, Sidhu came out with the words Maa ke... '

Prev     More
Prev

More

Sidhu told Amarnath that things were fine in the beginning of the tour before Azhar started abusing the opener repeatedly.

"Everyday, when they met, he used to say 'Good morning', okay, but this was invariably followed by filthy words. At the hotel, at the nets, while passing on instructions, even while chatting with him, Azhar would address him with a prefix!

"Sidhu said he was terribly upset and decided it was not tolerable! He had not come on the tour to listen to abuses from the skipper. He was upset. So he decided to leave the team quietly.

"Mohinder was stunned! But as he knew Azhar closely, he was not ready to believe him. He insisted that Sidhu tell him the words used by Azhar. Ultimately Sidhu came out with the words: "Maa ke..."

"After a pause, Mohinder burst into laughter as Sidhu watched him nervously.

"Finally, Mohinder told him 'Dear Sherry, okay, this is an abuse in North India. But, believe me, this is a very common naughty address to a dear one in Hyderabadi, often used by even ladies there! It means mother's dear child. While calling you with that prefix Azhar was not showing slightest disrespect to you, leave aside any offence!' "

Amarnath told the four BCCI panel members that Sidhu's eyes opened wide with disbelief.

"Amarnath told Sidhu, 'It's a great miscommunication which deserves to be forgotten and forgiven once and for all!' Now, I really understand why Azhar insisted that he had no idea about the reason of your fleeing. And mind you, he was damn right," wrote the former BCCI secretary.

 


Image: Navjot Singh Sidhu and Mohammad Azharuddin
Photographs: Getty Images
Prev     More
© Copyright 2014 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.