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This month, Bihar made eight changes to the playing XI for their final Ranji Trophy game against Arunachal Pradesh. They still ended the season without a win, finishing behind BCCI’s newer teams Nagaland, Manipur, Sikkim and Arunachal.

Here’s one obvious reason. The season that started with two under-19 teams entering BCCI’s age-group tournament, both claiming to represent the divided Bihar Cricket Association(BCA), has been marked by constant chopping and changing. The game of musical chairs, where 62 cricketers represented Bihar across tournaments, also saw three coaches and a selector being changed within months. There are other reasons that are not so obvious.

BCA president Rakesh Tiwary, a former state BJP treasurer, is at the centre of allegations of procedural wrongdoing and interference in the selection of teams. Tiwary was also named in a sexual harassment FIR filed at the Parliament Street police station in Delhi by an owner of a player management firm.

The charges levelled against Tiwary by his colleagues include holding key selection meetings at his home. Officials and coaches say those who didn’t toe Tiwary’s line were shown the door.

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Former Bihar first-class player and coach Tarun Kumar says he put his foot down when Tiwary tried to influence the selection process. “There would be frequent requests to accommodate relatives of bureaucrats, politicians, businessmen. Such requests would regularly be from Tiwary. As I didn’t agree, I was sacked. Some of the players for the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy were not even fit for club cricket,” Kumar said.

When contacted, Tiwary said the background of players was not a criteria but cricketing merit was. “We won’t play sons of bureaucrats and other such influential people just because their fathers are at an advantageous position,” Tiwary told The Indian Express.

Nikhilesh Ranjan, a Bihar batsman from the 1990s, replaced Kumar for the 50-over tournament, the Vijay Hazare Trophy. After the first two matches, Ranjan was demoted to assistant coach before being sacked.

“In the third match, Pavan Kumar, my assistant, was made the head coach and I was made his assistant. About 30 minutes into the fourth match, the manager called me while I was at the ground. He asked me to go back to the hotel, pack up and leave. Since there is no secretary or joint secretary, the president is in charge,” Ranjan said.

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“In the recently concluded season, two reserve selectors were appointed apart from the three main selectors…this means the BCA was already aware that one of the three main selectors appointed would probably leave in between,” he said.

According to Tiwary, the change in back room personnel was necessitated because the coach was causing rifts in the team.