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Money talks: A Board within the Board?

Come August and you might just be able to apply online for trials to the Indian cricket team! Well, this might sound a little weird but that's what one was given to understand.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2006 15:57 IST

Come August and you might just be able to apply online for trials to the Indian cricket team! Well, this might sound a little weird but that's what one was given to understand at Thursday's media conference here to announce a new BCCI talent hunt project.

Lets start at the beginning and given what we know of the BCCI, it's always about money. Apparently, the world's richest cricket body is accepting a certain undisclosed fee to begin a new joint venture with Investors in Cricket (IIC), a private body, through which the new partnership will spot future Indian cricket stars.

Confused -- you thought the BCCI, the state cricket bodies and the talent research development officers and the plethora of selectors were already there for that? Well, the BCCI is also confused. The glitzy announcements of the partnership have been made without anyone having a clear idea of what it's about.

Already, we have conflicting statements with BCCI Vice-President Lalit Modi (in a press briefing in London) calling it 'a talent hunt programme' and Board secretary Niranjan Shah calling it "just an entertainment show that'll bring in more money." Logically, the pragmatic Shah is probably closer to the truth.

Incidentally, the BCCI representative at the press briefing here was the head of their talent subcommittee, Kapil Dev. Neither of the men who were supposed to have been there, Lalit Modi and IS Bindra, were present.

At the briefing, we were various given to understand that this partnership was a serious scouting undertaking (which obviously would mean that the BCCI has no faith in the system in place it runs) that could be anything from an important supplement to the existing system to being an almost parallel one.

But Shah, talking to HT, called it a "fun project" that was meant to "just promote cricket and had nothing to do with the domestic system".

Most strangely, the media release promises the winner of this cricket talent hunt among other things, a place at the Indian national trials, whatever that might be, as we haven't heard of any direct trials to the Indian cricket team. Maybe something else is on the horizon.

When asked about the trials these said "national trials", IIC officials, after initially trying to defend their statement, accepted that they were as confused as anyone else. "What we mean is that we'll fast track the player into the big league. We don't guarantee them a place anywhere but it'll be about talent-spotting," said IIC's Dalip Pande.

Both he and Kapil denied that this was being conceived as a parallel system to the TRDOs but on the face of it, and the way it is being advertised, what else can this be?

Except of course, for the irrepressible Shah. "We have the BCCI's domestic cricket structure and nothing parallel to it can come into existence," he said.

"We have just given them a Memorandum of Understanding to operate. It'll be officially passed at the Working Committee meeting. And I think there's no harm in it. We are getting money from willing investors and it'll only promote cricket."

Hope the investors know this.