Wriddhiman Saha 'not willing to play' Ranji Trophy knockouts for Bengal

Wriddhiman Saha clips the ball fine Associated Press

Wriddhiman Saha will not turn out for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy 2021-22 knockouts on account of unresolved issues with the state association. Saha, the 37-year-old wicketkeeper-batter, has asked for a no-objection certificate to continue his domestic career elsewhere.

It began in February, when a statement from Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) joint secretary Debabrata Das, where he accused Saha of giving "all sorts of excuses" to "skip" Ranji matches didn't go down well with the cricketer.

Saha's wife Romi said he had approached CAB president Avishek Dalmiya, who assured him that Das had spoken in a personal capacity and that his comments had no bearing on how the association saw one of its senior players. It is understood that Saha still wanted the issue to be addressed before he played for Bengal again. Dalmiya agreed and they decided that they would look into it after the end of the IPL.

Then, on May 16, the Bengal squad for the Ranji knockouts was announced, and Saha was surprised to see his name in it.

ESPNcricinfo understands that Saha had another interaction with Dalmiya this week, where he reiterated his stance and said that in case the dispute could not be resolved, he wanted a no-objection certificate to leave the state.

The immediate upshot of all this is that Saha will not be part of the Bengal side that will play the Ranji Trophy quarter-final against Jharkhand starting June 6 in Bengaluru.

"The Cricket Association of Bengal wanted Wriddhiman Saha to play for Bengal at this crucial juncture especially when Bengal would be fighting in the Knockout stage in a bid to win the Ranji Trophy after becoming the top ranked team in the country at the end of the Group Stage," Dalmiya was quoted as saying on a CAB press statement on Thursday. "I had expressed this to Wriddhiman and had requested him to reconsider his decision. However, Wriddhiman has now communicated to us that he is not willing to play the Ranji Knockouts."

Das' comments were in response to Saha's reluctance to play for Bengal at the start of the Ranji Trophy season earlier this year, when he took leave citing family issues. This was also around the time he had been dropped from India's Test side.

"Tell me, why should Wriddhi not play in the Ranji Trophy for Bengal?" Das was quoted in the Sangbad Pratidin daily on February 22. "He is not in the Indian team, why should he not play for Bengal? Then we have to assume that he feels no responsibility towards Bengal.

"In the past, too, there have been many occasions when he has refused to play for Bengal. When we have spoken to him, he has given all sorts of excuses and skipped games. Sometimes it's body ache, sometimes he has a pain in his leg."

Saha is currently with Gujarat Titans who are scheduled to play the IPL final on May 29. Dalmiya has not yet responded to a message sent by ESPNcricinfo.