It began in February, with a quote from the CAB joint secretary Debabrata Das in a Bengali daily, where he accused the player of giving “all sorts of excuses” to “skip” Ranji matches.
Saha’s wife, Romi, said he had been hurt and had approached CAB secretary Avishek Dalmiya, who assured the wicketkeeper batter that Das had been speaking in a personal capacity and that his comments had no bearing on how the board saw one of its senior players.
Still, given his name had been dragged into the public domain, Saha wanted the issue to be addressed before he would play for them again. Dalmiya agreed and both of them decided that they would look into it after the end of the IPL.
ESPNcricinfo understands that Saha had another interaction with Dalmiya this week where he had reiterated his stance about Das’ comments and, in case the dispute could not be resolved, asked the CAB for a no-objection certificate.
Now, with less than two weeks to go for Bengal’s quarter-final match, the state association issued a press release that said Saha was “not willing” to play the Ranji knockouts in June, but did not state any reason.
“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,” Avishek Dalmiya, CAB secretary said in the media release. “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, 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 [Saha] not play in the Ranji Trophy for Bengal?,” he was quoted in the Sangbad Pratidin 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 the Gujarat Titans who are scheduled to play the IPL final on May 29. Dalmiya has not yet responded to a message sent by ESPNcricinfo.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo