In a surprising move, the Indian Cricket Board is preparing to close down operations of the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore by May-end. The BCCI's general manager for cricket development, Ratnakar Shetty, mooted the proposal at a meeting of the NCA committee in Chennai on April 12.
BCCI sources told HT that Shetty had made a one-hour presentation before the committee, which also included the board's top honchos, president N Srinivasan and secretary Sanjay Jagdale.
In his proposal, Shetty has suggested that the NCA coaching and administrative staff be relieved of its duties, the physios and trainers be retained, and the academy be converted into rehabilitation-cum-training
The reason behind the proposed plan is to cut down on the expenses, with NCA's total budget putting a R16 crore burden on the BCCI every year.
If the plan is accepted by the BCCI and the NCA committee at a meeting in Chennai on April 22, the cost of running the academy will come down to R1.5-2 crore per annum.
When the plan was first revealed last week, the NCA committee could not reach a consensus. It was then that Srinivasan suggested that the members go through the proposal in detail with NCA chairman, Ranjib Biswal. A final decision will be take on April 22 and, it is learnt, the proposal has the blessings of Srinivasan.
“The meeting should be a formality. The NCA expenses have been growing each year and the BCCI wants to cut down on the expenditure,” said a source.
Another reason behind the move is that the NCA is fully operational for only four months, while it tends to the injured contracted players for the rest of the year.
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The under-19, 16 and 25 camps are held for 45 days respectively, but will now be held in regional academies in Chennai, Mumbai and Mohali.
“The BCCI wants to make it a rehab-cum-training centre. If u-16 and 19 camps are not held in Bangalore then there is no need for so many coaches and staff. The board sees no point in paying eight months' salary, when only contracted players will come for rehab,” the source added.
The increasing salary burden of the coaching staff (a 10% hike every year is must) coupled with their accommodation is also seen as one of the reasons behind the move. From June onwards, a local coach with a level-three coaching certificate will work with the contracted players.
However, the NCA will remain the venue for the India, India 'A', under-19 and women's team camps, with physios and trainers attending them. In the absence of the administrative staff, the Karnataka State Cricket Association will make the necessary logistical arrangements, with BCCI footing the bill.
The board has also sought the withdrawal of Rs. 50 crore it paid towards acquiring 60 acres of land for the academy on the outskirts of Bangalore. The land acquisition was stayed by the High Court in February and the deal is now entangled in legal quagmire.
The move has come as a rude shock to the NCA staff, but there were indications much before the actual proposal was mooted. The board had not appointed a director of operations after Sandeep Patil quit in September to take over as the selection committee chairman.