Kolkata: The controversy surrounding the preparation of the Eden pitch took a dramatic turn today as veteran curator Prabir Mukherjee proceeded on a medical leave and termed the CAB's decision to sideline him for the third test between India and England as an "insult."
Mukhejee, who has been preparing the pitch of the stadium since 1985, shot a letter to Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) this morning and sought a "medical leave". He also hinted that he may not re-join at all.
The development came less than 48 hours after the BCCI sidelined the 83-year-old and sent East Zone ground and pitch committee representative Ashish Bhowmick to prepare a customised wicket at the Eden."It was an insult for me," Mukherjee told PTI referring to the appointment of Bhowmick.
Mukherjee is peeved at CAB's attitude and said President Jagmohan Dalmiya had even threatened to suspend him if he spoke about the pitch.
"Nowhere the president has the right to talk about pitches. But here they are threatening to suspend me if I talk about pitches. This is the treatment I get after more than two decades of my service at CAB," said Mukherjee, who is said to have differences with Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Dhoni had demanded a rank turner for the Kolkata Test and Mukhejree had said that such a demand was not logical as two pitches cannot be the same. That had apparently prompted BCCI to send Bhowmik to oversee the preparations.
"I expected some sort of protection from CAB 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 after sending his application to CAB.
"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."
Mukherjee is coping with a mental trauma after loss of his 31-year-old daughter and 73-year-old wife in 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.
Asked whether he would like to come back to Eden after one month, Mukherjee was non-committal.
"I will see after that. You see, I'm old enough and the loss of my wife and daughter has made me really weak." 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.
Even after being thrashed by 10 wickets on a customised Wankhede track in the second Test, Dhoni had insisted for a similar rank turner for the Eden Test beginning December 5.
But Mukherjee had openly criticised Dhoni and said, "Two pitches can never be the same, logically. It's most unethical if the India captain makes such statements in public. He's passing such comments every now and then, which is really unfortunate."