The BCCI statement for Indian cricket revamping

Posted: April 8, 2007 in BCCI, cricket, new policy statement, rebuilding

Right from morning, television has been covering as its headline story, the new policy of BCCI announced yesterday, to revamp Indian cricket. And as media goes, they want to pick the most media worthy point of the statement, while ignoring everything else.

They are talking about BCCI’s curbs on player endorsements, and whether these are right or not. I guess, that part of the statement is a little harsh, and may get criticism from all quarters. It can even be challenged as a Monopolistic Restrictive Trade Practice, since it simply tells the players, that they have to cut their incomes of they do not get selected for cricket matches. And the players cannot go anywhere else, as BCCI is a monopoly.

So there, I agree that this is one of the tough call portions of the statement.
But really, there is so much more that is creditable, and if BCCI really means what it says here, there are good things that can come out of this policy.

1. Asking zones to set up cricket academies and have them associated with the National Cricket Academy. That is money spent in the right place!

2. Asking for faster and more sporting pitches to come up across the country. Something that I have been shouting about for a long time.

3. Having more India A team games, and especially with countries like Australia, South Africa etc. Yes, get the next gen of cricket ready with some competitive cricket.

4. Making it mandatory for senior cricketers to participate in domestic games. Absolutely necessary. All countries have this requirement, except India. Now its coming in and we should hopefully see much lesser of the ‘guys being rested’! Also it is made clear that performance and participation in domestic cricket and clearing fitness tests, become criteria for selection. Awesome.

5. A limit to the number of playing days in a year, for test and ODI playing cricketers. Yes, that leaves them with time to play the domestic cricket referred above. And leave them with lesser reasons to ‘need rest’!

6. Doing away with zonal selectors and going for professional ones, who will be remunerated for their efforts too. Perfect! A must-need.

7. Doing away with slab wise incomes. Well, this is a yes and no situation. Earlier players were graded and got different levels of incomes. In a classic corporatish structure, this is essential. However, a non-performing senior getting more money, and a performing junior making less, was an anamoly. Worth trying this out.

8. Performance based pay. For ODIs, the fixed amount paid to players is reduced and a large bonus is introduced for winning series. Now, if endorsements are reduced and the direct rewards from playing cricket becomes a significant part of the revenues for a player, hopefully, the bonus will motivate the players to give their best and be focussed on winning, rather than just playing!

9. Focus on youth. They are sending a youthful team to Bangladesh. Makes sense. Even at the cost of losing some games at this time, if we focus on rebuilding the team with an eye on the future, its a great investment. Completely endorse it.

10. Dravid retained as captain. Shashtri as manager / coach. Prasad and Robin Singh as additional bowling and fielding coaches. Dravid as captain is good continuity. The perfect person to be an example for a young team that he will hopefully lead. Very intelligent. As long as he does not insist on Sehwag and Harbhajan, I am okay with him! Splitting the coach’s duties into three is a good step in the Indian context. It reduces pressure on a single person. Shashtri is a good choice as manager / coach. He is smart, articulate, young enough, can speak his mind, does not care hoot for authority, and if he establishes a good equation with Dravid and the team, nothing could be better. He is very commercial so I don’t know if that may come in the way, sometimes. But otherwise, I would definitely prefer him over a Gavaskar (puh-leese.. how can anyone even suggest his name!), Kapil Dev (great captain-leader, but would not make a good coach, especially in terms of offering scientific coaching techniques which are the need of the hour) or puppets like Anshuman Gaekwad / Mohinder Amarnath and the like! Robin Singh and Prasad, I don’t know how they will turn out. Have my set of doubts about their choice. I am just happy that the coach’s duties are split into three.

Many of the above are brave steps. Almost un-BCCI-like. Like they have stepped on their own toes, perhaps reduced their powers to an extent, or their means to be corrupt to an extent, or reduced the earnings opportunities. But if the BCCI sees that they need to nurture the golden baby, so that it keeps delivering for a longer time, then clearly these steps are in the right direction.

The mood of the nation being as it is, with the world cup loss, and the players own voice getting muted to that extent, this is the BCCI’s best opportunity to push these changes through. I am hopeful of improvements, as a result.

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