Three players, including the captain, of the Mumbai under-16 team, currently in Anand to play its Vijay Merchant Trophy opener against Gujarat which began on Friday, had to return on the morning of the game as they were deemed overage by the BCCI match referee S Suresh.
The Mumbai U-16 selectors were forced to pull out the three players skipper and opener Jash Ganiga, allrounder Jay Dhatrak and leg-spinner Aman Tiwari – from the squad after the BCCI wrote to the MCA that they were ineligible to play at the U-16 level anymore. Following a directive from batting great and current National Cricket Academy (NCA) director Rahul Dravid, the Board has launched a massive drive to tackle the problem of age fraud and catch all the overage players across all age group tournaments this season.
“When these boys underwent a BCCI-conducted bone test last year, their age was determined to be 15 years, eight months. As per that test, they weren’t eligible to play in the BCCI’s U-16 tournaments this season, as their age should be 16 years, eight months. This, however, seems to be an oversight by the administrators, rather than the fault of the players.
“The concerned MCA officials should’ve informed the selectors about this. Why did these players end up being a part of the probables camp, and the Payyade Trophy, the under-16 tournament for selection, and finally the team? Imagine the plight of the boys, especially the captain, who had to return to Mumbai by train on the morning of the match,” a source in the MCA told TOI on Friday. “It was so embarrassing to receive this letter from the BCCI right after Tendulkar spoke to us extensively on this issue. We will investigate this matter fully. As per our decision against age fraud culprits, we may ban these boys from playing for Mumbai at the U-19 level also. They can now play only in the BCCI’s U-23 tournament,” said an MCA official.
Following the sudden development, the MCA rushed opener Harsh Salunkhe, leggie Nisarg Bhuvad and all-rounder Arjun Dani as replacements for the three disqualified players, on Thursday night.
TOI had reported on August 1 that six players were disqualified from the Mumbai under-16 probables camp after they were deemed to be overage following a BCCI conducted bone test.