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‘Much-criticised BCCI like a wicket-keeper, hardly gets kudos for its good work’

The BCCI’s efficiency in organising domestic tournaments and looking at the welfare of its cricketers have contributed to the good health of the game in India.

cricket Updated: Oct 26, 2017 11:45 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BCCI,Board of Control for Cricket in India,cricket
Gujarat players celebrate after beat Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy final at Holkar Stadium in Indore in January 2017. Organising domestic tournaments is a huge task on the BCCI.(PTI)

Sometimes the BCCI must feel like a wicketkeeper whose mistakes are caught but good work goes unnoticed. The wicketkeeper’s job involves 540 sit-ups in a 90-over, six-hour day and desperate scrambling to collect wayward deliveries and wild throws, not to forget intense concentration every delivery. (INDIA vs NEW ZEALAND - FULL COVERAGE)

As he is central to play, the keeper must clap (to encourage teammates), chirp (to distract opponents) and assist the captain with the DRS. The keeper is also expected to know which way Kuldeep Yadav is turning the ball even when the batsmen don’t have the foggiest idea. Despite all this, the keeper is rarely recognised or rewarded and remains the perennial ‘side’ hero, never the main lead.

The BCCI, like the wicket keeper, hardly gets credit though every lapse is ‘breaking news’. In an eco system that is stridently judgemental, critics/fans and the media are quick to pull the trigger.

But the BCCI does a lot of good stuff. Seen from a helicopter view, if India is about to become the No 1 team in the world across formats, then the BCCI is doing something right. Also, if Indian cricket’s economic health is robust, the BCCI deserves a nod of appreciation.

BCCI’s operational efficiency

Judged on operations efficiency, the BCCI’s performance is outstanding. Running cricket in India and organising matches for 28 first-class teams is a massive task. The BCCI supports the biggest cricket structure in the world with age-group tournaments at under 14, 16, 18 and 23 level for men/women and Duleep, Deodhar, Ranji, Vijay Hazare and Mushtaq Ali tournaments for seniors.

For every game, from October to March, it’s not just a matter of putting 22 players on the field. What happens before every toss is a complex exercise. Match officials (umpires, referees, neutral curators, video analysts, scorers, anti-corruption officials) are posted weeks in advance, each person directly informed on a ‘closed’ email system accessed by a private password. Flights are booked and travel/hotel arrangements made.

Approved match balls (SG Elite) are couriered to venues and every game is filmed, the action captured by six cameras. All matches, whether played in Allur or Ahmedabad, are scored ‘live’ and ball-by-ball updates in real time are available on the BCCI website.

Huge tournament structure

By putting together an elaborate tournament structure, the BCCI provides players a platform to display their talent. It has also invested large sums to create infrastructure away from metros to take cricket to tier-2 cities. BCCI’s latest focus area is the North East, which till now was football territory.

The BCCI’s greatest achievement is looking after players -- its key stakeholders -- and providing them financial security and a commercial lifeline. That Virat Kohli’s team is suitably rewarded with central contracts, generous match fees and hefty IPL contracts is well known.

But not many are aware that this year almost 1,000 first-class players could earn close to Rs 40,000 for each day of Ranji Trophy. All registered players, at every level, are medically covered and retired players receive monthly pensions ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 37500. And best of all,if a centrally contracted player (for instance, R Ashwin last year) misses IPL through injury, he still gets paid through insurance!

(The author is a sports administrator and former BCCI media manager. Views are his personal)

First Published: Oct 26, 2017 11:37 IST