Indian board on collision course with ICC over support-staff diktat

Shamik Chakrabarty
The BCCI feels the change was made to “hit” India, England and Australia, and accordingly, it has decided to take its protest to the world body. (File Photo)

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is set to protest the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to drastically reduce the number of support staff accompanying teams at ICC events.

Overruling the Cricket Committee’s recommendation to keep the upper limit for support staff per team at 14, the ICC Board, at a meeting in October, decided to bring it down to eight. The BCCI feels the change was made to “hit” India, England and Australia, and accordingly it has decided to take its protest to the world body.

“With regards to the support staff that has to go with the team, the Cricket Committee of the ICC recommended that 15 players plus 14 support staff per team (for ICC tournaments). The ICC (Board), however, has reduced the number of support staff to eight. This is not done. Once the Cricket Committee has decided something which is related to cricket, the next level (of) committees — Chief Executives’ Committee and the Board — have to approve that. When you are going against the recommendation of your own Cricket Committee, why do you have the Committee? When we are spending for them (support staff), then you can’t take a call (based) on some teams that may not require or may not afford (a bigger contingent of support staff),” a top BCCI official told The Indian Express.

According to the official, the reduction targets the Big Three, who usually send a bigger contingent of support staff — coaches, logistics manager, throwdown specialists, masseurs, etc.

“It was done clearly to hit countries like India, England and Australia that send specialist support staff because we feel they need to accompany the team given the competitive nature of cricket today,” the official said.

President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Sourav Ganguly. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

The standard procedure in the ICC is that any recommendation from the Cricket Committee, which is headed by Anil Kumble, goes to the Chief Executives’ Committee and from there to the Board. The Cricket Committee had its full meeting in May and then there was a further call prior to the October Board meeting.

At its Annual General Meeting on Sunday, the BCCI is likely to nominate its representative to the ICC and former Board president N Srinivasan appears to be a strong contender. The AGM will consider a proposed amendment to the BCCI constitution that debars a person aged 70 years and above to be the Board’s representative at the ICC.

“See, representing the BCCI at the ICC is not a regular job that one has to do. It’s not like holding the post of an office-bearer. So, an experienced person who knows the ICC and has contacts can act in the best interests of the BCCI and Indian cricket,” said a Board official.

Few takers for CAC job

Meanwhile, ahead of the AGM, the BCCI is finding it difficult to form a new Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), with a large number of former players being reluctant to take up the job because of the potential conflict of interest issue. As per the BCCI constitution, only the CAC is authorised to pick cricket committees, including selection committees. It is learnt that even two days ahead of the AGM, the BCCI hasn’t been able to make a CAC shortlist.

“The appointment of the CAC is an item on the agenda. But do we have any takers for the job? Last time around, the likes of Kapil Dev, Shantha Rangaswamy and Anshuman Gaekwad also had to resign for some alleged conflict or other. So let’s see, who are eligible, given the (BCCI) constitution and its conflict of interest clause,” a BCCI official told this paper.

The cricket board has contacted some former players to check if they are available. So far, the response is lukewarm.

The CAC, since its inception in 2015, has been a high-profile committee. Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman were part of it, to start with. Tendulkar recused himself from the Committee after conflict-of-interest allegations were made against him. The BCCI ombudsman-cum-ethics officer Justice (Retd) DK Jain subsequently cleared the former India captain of any conflict.

The ethics officer, however, had found Ganguly and Laxman to be in conflict of interest for their multiple cricketing roles. Ganguly is now the BCCI president, while the conflict-of-interest issue is before the Supreme Court, as a plea has been made it to reconsider its rigidity.

ICA’s demand

The BCCI apex council will meet in Mumbai on Saturday and it is learnt that the representatives of the Indian Cricketers’ Association (ICA) to the apex council, Gaekwad and Rangaswamy, will place their demand during the meeting. Sources said Gaekwad will ask for pension for all retired first-class cricketers and a one-time benefit for the players who played between 1950 and 1975. The former India opener also wants medical insurance and pension for the windows of the former first-class cricketers.

Rangaswamy will highlight the wage disparity between male and female cricketers. The ICA has requested for a Rs 10-crore annual budget from the BCCI to run the association.