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Indian cricket: future perfect?

Over the last nine days, HT raised a number of issues about Indian cricket. BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah responds to some of them in a conversation with Amol Karhadkar. What the nation's cricket lovers say

cricket Updated: Jul 25, 2007 03:20 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times

Over the last nine days, we raised a number of issues about Indian cricket. BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah responds to some of them.

As of today, how are the Board’s plans to professionalise its set-up placed?

The Board has already moved ahead in professionalisation. This is an ongoing process to meet the requirements of enlarging the spectrum of the Board's activities and effectiveness. At present, the Board's work is carried out in the best possible manner, and is effective and efficient.

When exactly will we see the BCCI launch its own website? Isn’t it embarrassing to see state cricket associations having their own website, but not the Board?

The BCCI is in the process of developing and launching its own website. The consultancy for this has been assigned to Accenture, who have appreciable expertise and experience in the subject. The site will not only display important events and activities in cricket but also would like to generate money through the portal. Hence, the best possible care is being taken to make the BCCI's website as informative, effective and popular as possible.

When will the media and communications cell be functional?

The BCCI’s Media and Communication Cell will start functioning in due course of time. Nevertheless, it would be appreciated that the media is being provided adequate and exhaustive details to meet its requirements.

Are you planning to have a centralised administration from the Cricket Centre in Mumbai? Isn’t the headquarters being underutilised?

<b1>Office-bearers operate from their hometowns. Whether centralised or decentralised, it is the promptness and effectiveness of the administration that matters and should matter. However, a full-fledged set-up at the headquarters is well in progress. Even if the office bearers operate from their respective cities, the game is not affected, there is total coordination.

Office-bearers often cite the fact that they are honorary for not doing things, don't you think it is time they were paid?

With the ever increasing Board set up, there will be paid office-bearers as and when the need arises. Yet, there is no reason why honorary office-bearers cannot carry out work. What is needed is sincerity and a dedication towards the promotion of the Board's objective. Paid office bearers don’t necessarily work more efficiently than honorary ones.

Will the decisions taken after the World Cup, including the appointment of paid selectors, permanent managers etc surely be implemented after the Board AGM?

The BCCI is in the process of changing its constitution and set up to ensure that conditions, requirements and qualifications for selectors, permanent managers etc are more stringent and have a result-oriented focus. Again, whether paid or honorary, it is honesty, integrity and dedication that are more necessary and important.

Do you think all decisions eventually revolve around vote politics?

Often, the ruling faction seems to consider how many affiliated units they are making unhappy, like with the reversal of the new Ranji Trophy format recently. In a democratic set up, support and cooperation are necessary for the cause and promotion of cricket. The Board is not a political body and hence the question of decisions revolving around vote politics does not and should not arise. All cricketing decisions are taken on merit and experienced experts from the field of cricket are behind them.

Have the players' complaints about cramped schedules been taken seriously? Shouldn’t the issue be discussed with the ICC?

The schedule is hectic and cramped not just for India. The cricket played does not depend on a team of 11 only. It is not a question of rest. Sometimes, when rest is given to an India player, he plays elsewhere. Nevertheless, the Board is in the process of having a pool of 25 players so that players can be rested when required. As discussed in an ICC meeting, statistics shows that compared to earlier times, current bowlers are bowling less than 25 per cent (of that). This shows that complaints about cramped schedules are rather unwarranted.

Don’t the BCCI and players need to improve their relationship? Why doesn’t the BCCI recognise the players’ body?

It is only hypothetical to believe that the Board does not have good relations with its players. In fact, the Board does have very good relations with them and looks after their best interests. A healthy approach and positive discussions are sustained for this purpose.

Are you serious about the National Cricket Academy and junior cricket? If yes, why have we seen only two annual camps, and no permanent coaches at the NCA?

The Board is definitely very serious about the importance of the NCA and junior cricket. This is being developed with the development of domestic infrastructure.

Does the Board have any plans to revive university cricket?

The universities are members of the Board and the Board is very eager to revive and revamp university cricket. This will necessitate some changes in rules and regulations so universities can function synchronously with the Board for making university cricket more meaningful.

What is being done to improve domestic cricket? Should the Ranji be played on a home-and-away basis?

The Board is interested not only in improving and popularising domestic cricket but also in exploring their market potential. The season has to be conducive to necessitate home-and-away cricket.

With India hosting the 2011 World Cup, what is the BCCI doing to improve spectator facilities?

The Board has been endeavouring relentlessly to improve and upgrade facilities for spectators, to strengthen stadium infrastructure and make the 2011 World Cup as meaningful as possible. This is a matter of prestige for the country and countrymen. Hence, support and cooperation from all levels is essential for the Cup to be a grand success.

An umpires’ coach is a good concept to improve the standard — below par at the moment — in domestic cricket. But is it enough?

It is true that the standard of umpiring requires improvement. Efforts are constantly being made to assign competitive professionals for elevating standards.

What would your message be to fans disillusioned by the team's performances and the problems between the Board and the players, especially on the contracts issue?

Defeat or victory is inevitable not only for cricket but also for any other game. It is because of such elements that interest is sustained in the game. If a team keeps winning continuously, interest, enthusiasm and expectations would not be involved. I would like to emphasise to Indian fans, even though disillusioned, that we should not look at any failure or any disappointing performance negatively. A failure is not the end of the game. We should rather look upon any defeat as a training ground or a lesson in vital skills and strength. The failure to handle such situations for renewing faith and confidence can accumulate to their detriment or destroy the very thing, very spirit, very determination that we all work for, wish for, dream for.

First Published: Jul 25, 2007 01:00 IST