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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Team India trainer Shanker Basu under the scanner as ‘Conflict of Interest’ concern rocks BCCI and NCA

Two-day strength and conditioning camp for trainers at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru once again raises ‘conflict’ questions on India trainer Shanker Basu.

cricket Updated: Feb 18, 2019 20:51 IST
Baidurjo Bhose
Baidurjo Bhose
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
File image of India trainer Shanker Basu (second from right).
File image of India trainer Shanker Basu (second from right).(Shanker Basu/Twitter)

The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) decision to hold a two-day strength and conditioning workshop at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru under the watchful eyes of India trainer Shanker Basu has once again raised questions of ‘conflict of interest’ and the one under the scanner is Basu himself. A part of the national team set-up, Basu is also the director of Primal Patterns Holistic Fitness Studio — a private chain of gyms that specializes in strength and conditioning training apart from providing personal training to fitness enthusiasts and physiotherapy treatment.

Primal Patterns Holistic Fitness Studio was earlier in the news when Soham Desai was recruited as one of the new trainers at the NCA. For those unaware, Desai was a part of Primal Patterns and his recruitment had seen BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry question the process followed and it was found that Desai had passed the test in which Basu himself had set the question paper.

And on Monday, Desai was leading Group D of the four groups in the two-day strength and conditioning workshop at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. Interestingly, Vidhya Sagar — an alumni of the Primal Academy for Sports Science (PASS) — was also part of the workshop. This isn’t all. While Basu is himself not a director of PASS, his son Arjun Basu is along with Anurita Basu.

“This is not the first time that issues of conflict of interest and favouritism have arisen with regard to Basu. It is shameful to note that the late MV Sridhar had to resign in the matter of the appointment of Basu’s protege at the NCA and passed away soon thereafter while Basu continues to work in the same manner unabated. Is he misusing his proximity with the Indian captain without his knowledge?” a BCCI official enquired.

Interestingly, Desai or Sagar aren’t the only ones who are a part of the NCA workshop and have worked closely with or under Basu. AI Harrsha too is an alumni of PASS and was part of Group B at the workshop on Monday. Vivek Ramakrishna who led Group C at the workshop and Group B lead Naresh R are also rumoured to have worked with Primal Patterns in the past but the same couldn’t be confirmed.

Harrsha’s link with Basu doesn’t end at being an alumni from PASS. He was Royal Challengers Bangalore’s strength and conditioning coach in the last edition of the IPL and will continue this year as well as per team and cricket operations manager Avinash Vaidya. “Yes he is continuing as the trainer for RCB in the upcoming season of the IPL,” he told Hindustan Times.

And if sources in the know of developments is to be believed, Basu — a former trainer with RCB — is the one who decides on who gets to train RCB in the cash-rich league. “Basu takes the call and provides the team with a strength and conditioning coach,” a source told Hindustan Times on conditions of anonymity.

Even before one can moves ahead, the latest development in this matter of conflict comes with Team India manager Sunil Subramaniam’s son Siddharth Sunil passing the CSCS (NSCA) examination to become a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist at Primal Patters — as per their Facebook post on February 8. And to think that the team manager is expected to submit reports after every tour to the BCCI.

Siddharth Sunil being congratulated by Primal Patterns after completing certification.
Siddharth Sunil being congratulated by Primal Patterns after completing certification. ( Facebook )

While one doesn’t wish to question anyone’s integrity, but questions of conflict definitely arise when the son is undergoing courses at an institution whose director is under your supervision. But the India team manager made it clear that there was no question of conflict and that he was happy that his son was working under someone like Basu.

“There cannot be a more honourable man than Basu. He is the reason why all of us are fit. He has revolutionised fitness. He won’t give a damn if someone is my son or nephew. Sidhu has just started his career and has four or five years of internship to go before he even thinks of anything. I am more than relieved that he is reporting to someone like Basu who will make a man out of him,” he told Hindustan Times.

When contacted, Basu said that he was not in a position to comment unless permitted by the BCCI.

A senior BCCI official told Hindustan Times that it was sad how things were panning out. “It is shocking that the Indian team’s manager who is supposed to submit a report on the affairs of the team to the BCCI management had his son enrolled in the academy run by the other two directors of Basu’s company, also by the name of Primal Academy for Sports, apparently controlled by Basu’s family.

“Given the influence of Basu in Indian cricket’s vertical of strength and conditioning, can you expect Sunil to give an adverse report about Basu who may be able to influence decisions to engage the services of his son? I am sorry to say that the Indian cricket scene continues to sink to greater depths than ever imagined,” he said.

For a fitness studio that is so well-known across the country and has been behind the successful transformation of so many individuals, athletes and non-athletes, it is surprising that the ‘Success Stories’ section of the website is blank. This even as someone like a KL Rahul and R Ashwin had in the past openly spoken about how Primal Patterns has been an integral part of their journey. While Ashwin tweeted on the same, Rahul had posted a video on Instagram.



“Basu has been using the Indian players to promote his academy and it is a wonder that he has been allowed to function as the trainer of the Indian cricket team while being a director of a company that not only owns the gyms that are being endorsed by some Indian players but which is also earning revenue by supplying a trainer to RCB since the time Basu was asked to choose between RCB and the Indian team. Is this not a blatant disregard of the Lodha Committee reforms prescribing rules on conflict of interest?” a board official enquired.

“Why is a blind eye being turned to anything and everything connected with Basu? Whose protection does he have?”

Coming back to the workshop, the lack of transparency has been surprising with the mail for the workshop being sent directly to trainers associated with the various state teams and the NCA and not going to the state bodies. To make matters worse, while the board’s professional set-up planned the workshop, state teams are caught in a fix as they are preparing for the Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy that will be played from February 21 to March 2.

Interestingly, the U-23 men’s one-dayers — February 13 to March 4 — and the U-19 women’s one-day league — from Feb 10 to March 1 — is already on and that saw some of the state associations request GM Cricket Operations Saba Karim to postpone the workshop to March, accessed by Hindustan Times. But to no avail.

“The lack of transparency in the working of the BCCI is getting very frustrating for all the stakeholders including the employees, the office bearers and the state associations. I find it shocking that there is a workshop of trainers at the NCA a couple of days before the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy is to commence. So many teams are left in the lurch without the trainers.

“What sort of convoluted logic has been applied to schedule such a workshop at this stage is another mystery. Do they not realise that in contacting and calling the trainers directly rather than work through the state cricket associations, they are clearly creating an unhealthy work environment for all concerned and disregarding domestic cricket during the season,” a board official told Hindustan Times.

A coach of one of the Ranji Trophy teams put forward a question for the board. “So we as state level coaches are not allowed to have our own academies, but he as a trainer of the Indian team can have his gym and place his students from his family’s academy?” he enquired.

At a time when the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) have been charged with ensuring transparency in every step of functioning of the BCCI, this is indeed an area that should have been looked into by either the CoA or the other professionals in the set-up like the GM Cricket Operations or the CEO Rahul Johri. A senior board official rued the lack of professionalism in the whole approach.

“Saba Karim and NCA COO Tufan Ghosh have a lot to answer for. On the one hand you claim that you are having a successful season and on the other you yourself are disrupting the teams. Most importantly, no one has bothered to explain how they decided about who all would be present for this workshop.

“Is someone trying to create a cozy club of strength and conditioning professionals? Who is driving it? Are the physio and trainers of the NCA involved? Where is the vision for this important aspect of the National Cricket Academy? I am sorry to say but the levels of confusion and incompetence are breaking new ground every day and the only loser here is Indian cricket,” he signed off.

First Published: Feb 18, 2019 19:02 IST

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