Veteran Indian opener Gautam Gambhir was today handed a suspended four-match ban from first-class cricket for his ugly confrontation with Delhi Ranji coach KP Bhaskar earlier this year, a punishment he said will abide by.
An enquiry committee constituted by Delhi and Districts Cricket Association administrator Justice Vikramjit Sen, comprising chairman Madan Lal, Rajendra R Rathore and advocate Soni Singh found Gambhir guilty and termed the batsman's behaviour as "serious" and "inappropriate". However, Sen decided to "suspend the punishment for a period of two years ending on 30th March 2019" conditional on Gambhir accepting this order and not committing any similar transgressions.
"Having learnt of an incident, which occurred when the team from DDCA was in Orissa, in which an altercation between Gautam Gambhir and Bhasker Pillai had transpired, and pursuant to a complaint received from Pillai, I met both persons on 10th March 2017. The matter could not be amicably and satisfactorily resolved.
"The Committee Members agree that considering the above facts and circumstances that have come to light, Mr Gambhir's actions towards Mr Pillai with premeditated intent to humiliate the coach were highly inappropriate and of serious nature. It is recommended that such inappropriate behaviour requires to be penalised not only in a proportionate manner, but in a manner that has a deterrent effect so that it is not repeated and such issues are taken seriously by all team members," Sen said in a statement.
"The Committee members feel the necessity of deterrent effect of penalties on account of such seriously inappropriate behaviour to inculcate discipline within the team and in the interest of the game of cricket. Having such considerations and findings as above in mind, the Committee Members recommend that Mr Gautam Gambhir should not be allowed to play in 4 (four) First Class matches of the Delhi team at the start of the next season, i.e. 2017-18 on account of his deliberate and pre-meditated inappropriate behaviour," he said.
In his reaction, Gambhir said he will abide by the decision. "I have seen honourable Justice Sen's order and will abide by it," Gambhir told. It means that Gambhir may not serve the sentence at all, if he does not commit any similar transgression in the next two years.
Bhaskar and Gambhir had a heated altercation after Delhi's campaign ended in the Vijay Hazare Trophy in Bhubaneswar earlier this year with allegations of former India captain abusing the coach, something he has categorically denied. The committee came hard on Gambhir for his "unruly" behaviour.
"It is evident from the above that the actions/conduct of Mr Gambhir on 6th March 2017 against the coach and the confrontation were pre-meditated as he called for the meeting after the match at lunchtime on a day when he was not even playing the match and he had remained in the hotel, since about lunchtime.
"It is further evident that Mr Gambhir intended to use some very sharp/inappropriate language and admittedly the arguments between the coach and Mr Gambhir were expected to be so 'heated' that he thought it prudent to save some of the younger players from witnessing it and therefore sent them outside the dressing room before starting the confrontation," the statement said.
Gambhir, on his part, has made multiple allegations of Bhaskar making youngsters like Nitish Rana, Unmukt Chand and Pawan Negi "insecured" and "playing with their careers". Acting on Gambhir's complaints, the committee also recommended the formation of a grievance redressal forum.
"The Committee also recommends, in view of the significant grievances raised by Mr Gambhir during the hearing, which seem to have been given vent to in an inappropriate manner on account of lack of a proper grievance redressal system for the team members, that a grievance redressal system within the team is urgently required," the statement read.
"It is also recommended that disciplinary action rules and mechanism of imposing penalty are required to be formulated to inculcate discipline in the team members and for predictability and deterrence, where players know that an act of indiscipline would have serious repercussions and are therefore deterred from committing them."
The committee observed that the position of a coach deserves respect and dignity from his players. "The position of a coach among the team members is of high respect and dignity. It is a serious disgrace to a coach to be humiliated in front of team members by one of the team members even though if it is a senior player.
"The actions of Mr Gambhir, however well intended, cannot be said to be in the interest of the team, or its performance or the game as it was done on the very last day of the season and therefore could not have been any corrective effect. The actions of Mr Gambhir were not in the spirit of the game," the statement said.