The world’s biggest cash-rich cricket body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BBCI), is quietly tightening its belt. In its first big lay-off since the COVID-19 outbreak, the BCCI has decided not to renew the annual contracts of 11 coaches at its premier National Cricket Academy (NCA).
These also include five retired India players — Ramesh Powar, SS Das, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Subroto Banerjee, and Sujith Somsundar.
The Indian Express said it has learnt that former India captain Rahul Dravid, who had handpicked the team after taking over as Head of Cricket at NCA, informed the coaches last week about the termination of their services. Domestic stalwart Sitanshu Kotak is one of those who have been told to leave.
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Post-pandemic there have been no India matches since February and the Board’s showpiece IPL is being played in the UAE’s empty stands.
The 11 coaches were employed on one-year contracts due to expire this month, on salaries ranging from Rs 30-55 lakh. At least five of them told The Indian Express that they were not alerted before the decision was taken or given a “real reason”.
The paper said Dravid, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and board secretary Jay Shah did not respond to queries.
“We received a call from Rahul (Dravid) two days ago and he informed us that BCCI has decided not to renew our contract. There was no real reason given to us. He said he tried his best to retain us, but he couldn’t do anything further. For the past three months, we have been attending webinars and planning activities for after Covid-19. Suddenly, we are told that our services are no longer needed,” said a coach.
“We have been told about this at a time when many state associations have already appointed coaches for their teams. It will be tough for us to get new assignments in this Covid time,” said another coach.
Cricketing activities at the NCA had come to a complete halt since the Covid lockdown in March. However, earlier this month, BCCI-contracted players were given the option of training at the Bengaluru-based academy.
In 2019, on Dravid’s recommendation, the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators had recruited these coaches to manage the heavy workload at the country’s premier academy.
With the NCA also involved in identifying and nurturing talent, the coaches were drafted to work for 120 days a year.
“The NCA doesn’t function for a full year. So it was decided that we have to give 120 days to NCA where we work with seniors, India-A, India under-19, India under-23, and other specialized camps, which are conducted every year,” a coach said.
According to the last balance sheet of BCCI made public by the board, it had cash and bank balance of ₹5,526 crore, as of March 2018, including ₹2,992 crore in fixed deposits. In April 2018, the BCCI signed a five-year broadcasting deal with Star TV worth Rs 6,138.1 crore.