Contrary to the BCCI’s assertion that Pandurang Salgaoncar has been “dismissed” from his role, the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) says it has only suspended him as head groundsman of the Pune pitch. The MCA will appoint its own committee to conduct a probe which will run parallel to and be independent of the investigation being carried out by the ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU).
“He has been suspended as curator and as also the MCA member because of any actions which might bring disrepute to the association,” a MCA official told ESPNcricinfo. “There will be an inquiry and depending upon the verdict a final decision will be taken.”
Action was taken against Salgaoncar on Thursday, hours before the India-New Zealand T20, for “malpractice” that was captured on camera by undercover reporters from India Today TV. The decision to suspend Salgaoncar was unilaterally taken by the MCA president Abhay Apte, after the footage was released. It is understood that Salgaoncar had come to the ground on the morning of the T20, but Apte met him and explained the seriousness of the issue. Apte informed Salgaoncar that he was left with no choice but to suspend him. He also said that the best solution was for Salgaoncar to leave the ground.
According to the MCA official, Salgaoncar asked if he could watch the match sitting in an MCA box, but Apte declined such a request as the curator’s presence would have added to the media furore. “There was the issue about perception. There is an issue about faith, about trust, and it was not appropriate to let him continue in the job and it would be incorrect,” the MCA official said.
The MCA was relieved once ICC match referee Chris Broad gave the match the go-ahead upon examining the pitch.
On Thursday, in an emergency meeting, Apte explained to the MCA members the logic behind suspending Salgaoncar. “The MCA suspended him pending enquiry. We cannot terminate him without any proof and finding. And we cannot let him go just based on a perception that he had done something wrong.”
Asked whether Salgaoncar had committed a breach of the ICC’s ACSU code, the MCA official agreed there was a violation. “Prima facie there is evidence and misconduct and hence he was suspended. If it is confirmed that there was [misconduct] then he will be removed. If it confirmed that was not the case, then he will be reinstated.”