Ajit Agarkar, Mumbai's leading fast bowler, flew back from Cuttack on the first day of Mumbai's match against Orissa because he was disappointed at being dropped from the final XI. Agarkar was part of the 15-man squad and had played in the last game against Karnataka, but following the team meeting on Monday, he was told by the trio of captain Wasim Jaffer, coach Sulakshan Kulkarni and selector Ravi Thakkar that they had decided to pick Aavishkar Salvi ahead of him.
"They did not tell me before going I am not going to be the part of the eleven. I do not expect to not play Ranji Trophy for Mumbai," Agarkar told ESPNcricinfo. Agarkar had missed Mumbai's first two games of the season with a thigh injury and went wicketless in the third-round Elite group match against Karnataka, played at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai.
"My only issue is if they had decided beforehand in Mumbai they could have easily told me and I might not have gone to Cuttack," Agarkar said. "For someone who has been around for this long, just telling him night before the match that he is not in the playing eleven is not what you accept."
With Zaheer Khan included in order to prove his fitness for India's tour of Australia, the selectors had a tough choice to make between Agarkar and Salvi.
Once he had decided to return to Mumbai, Agarkar followed protocol and called Nitin Dalal, the Mumbai Cricket Association secretary, requesting permission to return home. "I asked him and the team management to allow me to go. I was feeling very dejected and me sitting there in the dressing room sulking and with the young guys around would only add unnecessary pressure."
What hurt Agarkar more was that most of the selection committee, along with the pair of Jaffer and Kulkarni, had known him for a long time and he felt he deserved a call in private. "The captain knows me since last 20 years, since my school days; the selection committee chairman (Milind Rege) actually got me [a job with] Tatas; Abey Kuruvilla, another selector, has played cricket with me and Sulakshan Kulkarni has played Ranji Trophy with me. Anyone of these people could have told me before the squad left for Cuttack."
Agarkar was not worried about the potential repercussions of his decision. "I am hurt because after one match you are telling me that I have become that bad for Mumbai Ranji Trophy team then obviously there is something more to it than just cricket." According to Agarkar, he would've accepted the decision if only the selectors had called him and explained their plan in advance.
Salvi had missed out on Mumbai's last two matches - against Rajasthan as he was not well and then against Karnataka Mumbai chose to play three spinners, with Agarkar getting the nod ahead of him.