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India’s disabled cricketers get boost with central contracts

Disability cricket is yet to get official recognition from the Board of Control for Cricket in India despite the Lodha Committee’s recommendation.

cricket Updated: May 10, 2017 18:58 IST
Harit N Joshi
Harit N Joshi
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
International Cricket Council,Board Of Control For Cricket In India,PCCAI
India’s disabled cricketers will get central contracts like their counterparts who fall under the BCCI pay structure.(Getty Images)

While the tiff between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) continues to remain in focus over the new financial and governance models, some landmark decisions have been taken to uplift the country’s disabled cricketers in the mean time.

Disability cricket is yet to get official recognition from the Indian cricket board despite the Lodha Committee’s recommendation. But that isn’t an excuse for the Physically Challenged Cricket Association of India (PCCAI) from fulfilling their duties.

For the first time in the history of disability cricket, the top-20 players have been rewarded with central contracts by the PCCAI — one of the three cricket bodies that run the show for the physically challenged in India.

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The grading was done on the lines of the BCCI for their centrally contracted cricketers. Grade A players would be eligible for Rs 30,000 annually while Grade B and C cricketers will earn Rs 20,000 and Rs 10,000 annually. These amounts are a far cry from what the BCCI coughs up for its players.

“This is just the beginning. It was in the pipeline for quite some time, but we are happy it has finally materialised. This is the best we could start with and we will increase the contract fee as we play more tournaments,” PCCAI’s general secretary Ravi Chauhan told Hindustan Times.

“Our intention was to provide some basic assured source of income to these cricketers as most of them don’t have regular jobs. A lot of them hail from poor backgrounds, so it will help them fund their academics or their cricket,” added Chauhan, who has raised money from sponsors and private entities.

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The PCCAI-affiliated cricketers are set to play against physically challenged cricketers of Afghanistan in Greater Noida from May 22 in three one-days. Chauhan informed that his association has recently struck a hospitality deal with a five-star hotel whenever their team plays in India.

Several people have come forward in PCCAI’s endeavours. Greater Noida development manager Ajay Tyagi has promised to provide the stadium facilities free of cost to disability cricket. Veteran India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has come forward to sponsor the apparels of the PCCAI team while former India skipper MS Dhoni had sponsored the kits and apparels of the team when they participated in a tournament in South Africa.

Former BCCI chief Shashank Manohar had tried to bring all the associations in India devoted to disability cricket cause under one umbrella with former India skipper Ajit Wadekar as its head. But once Manohar quit the BCCI for the ICC chairman’s post, there have been no further talks with the BCCI’s new regime.

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Their hopes are now pinned on the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) and BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri for affiliation.

“We have high hopes from the CoA. Mr Vinod Rai has promised full support to us. The BCCI CEO has also promised to hear us out after IPL. Except India, every national board supports disability cricket. Even Afghanistan, who is not even a full member of the ICC yet, wholeheartedly promotes disability cricket. Our appeal to the BCCI is to take these disabled cricketers into their wings,” said Chauhan.

First Published: May 10, 2017 18:55 IST