BCCI’s ‘no 60-plus staff’ advisory set to affect domestic cricket restart
The Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) and Cricket Association of Bengal are among those who will be affected. Baroda appointed well-known coach Dav Whatmore, 66, as director of cricket this year.Updated: Aug 04, 2020 07:50 IST
Many BCCI state units could be affected by a clause in the 100-page Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) note issued for resumption of training that discourages the use of support staff and ground staff who are above 60 years old.
“Individuals who are over the age of 60 years, viz. support staff, umpires, ground staff, and those individuals with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, weakened immunity, etc., should be considered vulnerable and are believed to have a higher risk of severe Covid-19. All such individuals should be discouraged from participating in the camp activities until suitable guidelines are issued by the government,” reads the SOP document issued to state units on Sunday.
The Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) and Cricket Association of Bengal are among those who will be affected. Baroda appointed well-known coach Dav Whatmore, 66, as director of cricket this year. It was under 65-year-old former India batsman Arun Lal’s coaching that Bengal reached this year’s Ranji Trophy final. Ranji champions Saurashtra were coached by former India seamer, Karsan Ghavri, 69. Saurashtra is yet to finalise its coaching staff for the new season.
The ICC’s SOP says: “Participants, in particular umpires, match referees and support staff, may be considered vulnerable individuals that are at higher risk of severe illness due to CV-19. This includes older individuals (approx. 60+) and people of any age with underlying medical conditions such as cardiac, kidney, diabetes, obesity, weak innate immunity, etc.”
BCA CEO, Shishir Hattangadi, said: “We will write to BCCI soon seeking some clarity whether these are to be followed to the ‘T’ or we can use our discretion. Dav isn’t just a coach; he is overseeing the entire coaching structure too. He is currently guiding the boys online, but we would like to know how to proceed.”
Lal says a practical approach should be adopted. “The guidelines are there to caution you. The rules apply to anyone who is 60 as well as who is 59. It’s not that the one who is over 60 is more likely to get the virus or spread it. No one knows anything about it. Eventually the call will have to be made by the association in consultation with the authorities,” he said.
The Bombay High Court had last month pulled up the Maharashtra government for barring those above 65 from shooting for films and participating in shooting-related work, asking how they could be barred from earning their livelihood.
Age is not the only stumbling block. There may be coaches under 60 who have health issues mentioned in the SOP. “How will you find out who has which ailment? One can self regulate, but we would like to know from BCCI if this is an advisory or guideline,” said a state association official. The SOP has asked states to appoint a Chief Medical Officer to oversee implementation of guidelines. Many state bodies haven’t appointed coaching staff for the new season, which is unlikely to start before December. But decisions could be dictated by SOPs. “Our country is so large and our domestic cricket is so robust that everyone has to travel and play. Till the time it is not safe, it will not happen,” BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said recently.
STATES STUDY SOPs
But will states be able to adhere to the protocols laid down for training? Many state units even have ground staff members who are over 60.
Officials say there will hardly be units which don’t have groundsmen and maalis who are not 60 plus. All of them have been active, even in lockdown, as watering and maintaining the ground is imperative.
Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) secretary, Sanjay Naik, said: “We will have to study the SOPs, meet and decide on the next course of action.”
Everyone agrees the importance of working within the protocol. Baroda began a pre-season camp but had to suspend activities after a player’s kin tested positive. Saurashtra cricket chief, Jaydev Shah, said: “We aren’t even thinking about resuming team training soon. If the SOPs are laid down, we must follow them… I hope by the time we are close to starting the season the health situation would have improved.”
Cricket Association of Bengal president, Avishek Dalmiya, said BCCI’s advisory would first be studied by its medical panel and that there was no hurry to take decisions. “It is presumed that restrictions for individuals above a certain age or with underlying medical conditions mentioned in the advisory is of a temporary nature considering the current situation… Since commencement of sports activities in the state (West Bengal) have not been allowed as yet, and also since there is a considerable amount of time left for domestic cricket to start, no decision pertaining to change of support staffs are being considered at present.
“The coaches appointed for various teams would continue to monitor their respective teams via video conferencing…,” Dalmiya added.
The SOPs prepared by the BCCI medical team wants all players and staff to sign a consent form before resuming training. It is also advised that cricket equipment should not be shared.