Andhra Cricket Association asks Hanuma Vihari to keep ‘politics out of cricket’, assures probe

The ACA asserts that the change in captaincy was independently decided by the selection committee due to complaints about Vihari's behaviour.

ByBhaskar Basava

Published Feb 28, 2024 | 1:51 PMUpdatedFeb 28, 2024 | 1:51 PM

Hanuma Vihari and Andhra Cricket Association. (Supplied)

The Andhra Cricket Association (ACA) issued a press release on Wednesday, 28 February, dismissing any claims of “political interference” and asked Hanuma Vihari to keep politics out of cricket.

This was in response to the remarks made by the ace cricketer earlier this week, on Monday, 26 February.

Indian cricketer Hanuma Vihari sparked controversy with his statement about “political interference” leading to his resignation as the captain of the Andhra Ranji team.

The ACA stated that it would conduct a comprehensive investigation into all received complaints and provide a factual report to the BCCI.

Related: Hanuma Vihari-Andhra Cricket Association face-off turns political: TDP, JSP lead charge

Hanuma Vihari’s ‘U-Turn’

Hanuma Vihari, associated with the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) since his childhood, moved to Andhra Pradesh in 2017 to participate in the Ranji Trophy and later represented the Indian team.

After returning to Hyderabad for the 2020 season, he rejoined the Andhra team.

The ACA mentioned that Vihari had frequently requested a “No Objection Certificate” (NOC) during his time with Andhra to explore opportunities in other states, a request that the ACA had accommodated.

However, on this occasion, Vihari was denied the NOC. In a shift from his earlier stance, Vihari later requested the ACA to allow him to continue representing Andhra after facing rejection from the Indian Cricket team. He issued an apology citing “emotional frustration.”

The ACA clarified that concerns raised by parents regarding the impact of Vihari exploring other opportunities leaving the Andhra team had on local players’ opportunities had been brought to their attention multiple times.

They further added, that Vihari’s experience also led the team management to retain him.

Related: Hanuma Vihari says political interference made him quit as Andhra Ranji captain

Alleged abuse of KN Prithvi Raj

The ACA received complaints regarding Vihari’s conduct towards other players, including an incident during the Ranji match against Bengal.

“KN Prithvi Raj, the 17th member of the Andhra Ranji Trophy, did not secure a place in the team on one occasion, despite showcasing commendable talent in various age groups and tournaments,” ACA said.

It further said that during the Ranji Trophy match against Bengal in January 2024, Vihari, serving as the team’s captain, picked an injured player to play instead of Prithvi Raj.

A complaint was received, alleging that Vihari publicly insulted the player during the match, prompting the aggrieved player to lodge an official complaint with the ACA.

The ACA claimed that Vihari had previously been reported for using inappropriate language and displaying misconduct towards fellow players during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy tournament, contributing to division within the team.

Also Read: The politics around Jana Sena’s ’24’ seat-sharing with TDP: Cadre divided over ‘injustice’

Clarification on changing captain

Hanuma Vihari claimed that despite unanimous support from his teammates to retain him as captain, he was dismissed.

Consequently, certain players have lodged complaints against Hanuma Vihari with the Andhra Cricket Association.

The ACA added that there have been allegations that complaints lodged against Vihari were signed under intimidation. The ACA added it will conduct a comprehensive investigation into all the complaints received and will provide a factual report to the BCCI.

They further pointed out that in January 2024, Vasireddy Chandramouli Prasad Chaudhary, Chairman of the ACA Senior Selection Committee, recommended a new captain in light of complaints regarding Vihari’s behaviour.

“Following concerns raised by the selection committee and internal discussions, a change in captaincy was decided upon independently by the selection committee,” the ACA clarified.

“Vihari, in response, expressed his compliance with the decision made by the selection committee,” it claimed.

The ACA expressed disappointment that certain political parties and leaders chose to criticise the association based on unfounded allegations made by Hanuma Vihari on social media. The ACA respectfully urged those seeking to politicise cricket to refrain from doing so.