Praveen Kumar, who has had a history of on-field brawls, is in the firing line again. He was reported for offensive behaviour during the recent Corporate Trophy match between ONGC and Income Tax on February 4. Umpires Ajit S Datar and Kamlesh Sharma have charged him with ‘Code of Conduct’ violation under clause 2.2.8.
The incident happened during the 48th over of the Income Tax innings. Playing for ONGC, Kumar had reportedly made an insulting gesture and even used “violent physical contact” against Ajitesh Argal, the Income Tax medium-pacer, known more for his feats in the ICC U-19 World Cup in 2008.
In a letter to the BCCI and match referee Dhananjay Singh, the umpires have given a detailed account of Praveen’s conduct. A part of the letter reads:
“He (Kumar) shouted, ‘M******** tu batting kar, umpiring maat kar (you just bat, don’t have to be an umpire)’.”
“When ordered to stop it, he repeated, ‘Woh m******** batting kyon nahin karta (why doesn’t he simply bat?)’”
“After bowling the first ball, Praveen Kumar advanced aggressively towards the striker and made violent physical contact with him, head-butting and chest-butting the striker.”
They have suggested that a hundred per cent penalty be imposed on him as per the BCCI guidelines, with a warning that he should not “indulge in such acts in future”.
More damning is a written note to KVP Rao, the Indian cricket board’s game development manager.
The umpires have gone on record as saying that Praveen “is not in a mental frame to play the game”. Furthermore, they claim that his own teammates have deserted him.
According to the letter, “He is very aggressive and gets hostile with little trigger. He is very abusive and passes very filthy comments to his own team mates, opponents and even to the spectators.
During the first match also (ONGC vs CAG on February 1), he had some spat with the spectators at Raipur. It was informed to me by the other match referee Mr Prakash Bhatt. Even his own teammates are keeping some distance from him.”
Two years ago, during India’s tour of the West Indies, he had scrapped with a spectator in Port of Spain. In 2008 also, he was involved in a fracas in Meerut, his home town, and had allegedly thrashed a doctor.
In the 2011 series in England, he had reacted angrily to fans’ gibes in a tour game against Northants.
The mercurial medium pacer, once a find because of his whippy action and cocked wrist, has fallen out of favour with the selectors. Sadly, his off-field demeanour has been undermining the talent that’s gradually losing way.
—The writer works with ESPN-Star Sports