After day-long drama, Dalmiya convinces unhappy Eden curator to return
Kolkata: The drama surrounding the preparations of the Eden pitch for the third Test between India and England ended today after CAB President Jagmohan Dalmiya persuaded Prabir Mukherjee to return to work, hours after the peeved curator had threatened to proceed on medical leave.
Mukherjee, unhappy at being sidelined, had decided to go on a month's medicla leave in the morning but was persuaded to change his mind by the evening after meetings with CAB officials.
"There is no issue at all. We have sorted out the differences. Prabir Mukherjee was the Eden Gardens curator. He will be in-charge of the Test match against England stating on December 5 and the India versus Pakistan ODI on January 3, next year," CAB chief Dalmiya said after his meeting with the veteran curator.
"I'm hearing all sorts of stories everyday. These are all unncessary media created stories. Yes, he is really unwell but I've asked him to come and stay for lesser time," Dalmiya added.
Mukherjee, who has been at the centre of controversy for apparently refusing to toe the line of India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's demand for a rank turner, expressed his desire to go on leave on medical grounds as he felt that the host association was not standing by him.
After East Zone curator Ashis Bhowmick joined Mukherjee, there were reports that the 83-year-old curator's wings have been clipped although it has been mandatory for zonal curators to visit each venue of their respective zones.
Following his U-turn, Mukherjee was back at the Eden Gardens towards the evening and was seen enjoying good camaraderie with CAB top brass.
It was a sort of moral victory for Mukherjee after CAB's treasurer and their 'Crisis man' Biswarup Dey went to Mukherjee's house and took him to Dalmiya's residence for a discussion.
The drama started in the morning with Mukherjee claiming that he had sent a letter to the CAB, seeking one-month's medical leave.
"Nowhere the president has the right to talk about pitches. But here they are threatening to suspend me if I talk about pitches", Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee had openly criticised Dhoni for the skipper's demand for preparing wickets that offer turn from the very first over.
"It is unethical to tamper with the pitch as per the liking of the captain. I have not done it in my life. Why should I do it now? What happens if the pitch does not last for five days? Let them give me in writting then I will do it," the outspoken Mukherjee had maintained.
Mukherjee's outburst had led BCCI to rush Bhowmick to take charge of the Eden, something that might have hurt the octogenerian.
"This is the treatment I get after more than two decades of my service at CAB. It was an insult for me," Mukherjee had told PTI referring to the appointment of Ashish Bhowmick, the East Zone ground and pitch committee representative.
"I expected some sort of protection from CAB and thought that they would stand by me. Instead they are after me. My BP shot up 170/100 last night. After the check-up, the doctors have advised me a complete rest for a month. I've sent the medical report and request for a medical leave for a month to the CAB this morning," he said.
"I don't make pitches to earn money. I had prepared pitches in Bangladesh for the U-19 World Cup (in 2004) and the ICC Cup without getting a single penny. Cricket is my passion that's why I'm associated with Eden for so long," he said.
Mukherjee had to cope with a mental trauma after the loss of his 31-year-old daughter and 73-year-old wife in a span of six days. "My daughter died on May 25 and wife on May 31. Despite coping with terrible personal crisis, I did not take a single day's leave".
"The day after my wife's death, I was at the Eden Gardens. Nobody can question my commitment. But I am getting such a raw deal from the CAB," he said.
Mukherjee's differences with Dhoni is not something new.
During England's last appearance here for an ODI in 2011, Dhoni had termed the Eden wicket as "ugly". However India had won that match for a 5-0 whitewash in the series.
During the South Africa Test in 2010 which India won in last over of the final day, Mukherjee wasn't ready to give in to Dhoni's demand of shaving the green off the 22-yard strip.
Back in 2005, Mukherjee had an argument with the then India coach Greg Chappell and skipper Rahul Dravid as he produced a bouncy pitch in protest against keeping Sourav Ganguly out of the Indian team. India had lost that match by 10 wickets where South Africa captain Graeme Smith had scored a century.