NO INDIA matches since February, its showpiece IPL playing out in a bio-bubble of empty stands in the UAE, the world’s richest cricket body is now quietly tightening its belt.
Marking its first big staff lay-offs since the Covid outbreak, the BCCI has decided to not renew the annual contracts of 11 coaches at its premier National Cricket Academy (NCA), including five retired India players —Ramesh Powar, SS Das, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Subroto Banerjee and Sujith Somsundar.
The Indian Express 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. Those who have been asked to leave include domestic stalwart Sitanshu Kotak.
The 11 coaches were employed on one-year contracts that are set to expire this month, on salaries ranging from Rs 30-55 lakh. And at least five of them told The Indian Express that they were not alerted before the decision was taken or given a “real reason”.
Dravid, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and board secretary Jay Shah did not respond to queries from The Indian Express.
“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. Now suddenly, we are told that our services are no longer needed,” said one of the coaches.
Another coach rued the timing of the decision. “We have been told 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,” another coach said.
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.
Apart from helping the men’s and women’s senior teams during camps and rehabilitation programmes, the coaches were involved in training India-A, India U-19 and India U-23 developmental sides.
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 the 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 specialised camps, which are conducted every year,” a coach said.
It’s not as if the BCCI is running out of money, though. According to the last balance sheet made public by the board, it had cash and bank balance of Rs 5,526 crore, as of March 2018, including Rs 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.
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