By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) Around 30 per cent of the 38 state cricket associations are not cooperating with the Supreme Court-approved Indian Cricketers’ Association (ICA) by either not permitting the players’ representatives attend meetings of apex councils or simply “not listening” to them, says ICA president Ashok Malhotra.
As per the new Supreme Court-approved constitution of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), each of its affiliate should have two players’ representatives – one male and one female – in their apex councils. But some states are not recognising the players’ reps and are not permitting them to attend council meetings. The ICA is presently an elected body of former first-class and international players.
“About 70 per cent of the states of states, like Vidarbha, are listening. For the rest 30 per cent, we still have to put it across them, especially the north-east states, some of whom have not convened any apex council meeting so far. They don’t understand the importance of apex council meetings etc.,” Malhotra, a former Test batsman, told IANS.
“In Bihar, for example, infighting going on. We had some difficulty in Maharashtra, too, but they have now accepted our apex council meetings. Hopefully, things will fall in place. Gradually, things are improving. Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) is very reluctant and haven’t invited ICL members to any of their apex council members. They are very adamant and said that they had their own state cricketers’ association,” he said.
“We had to send them a letter, saying ‘you can’t have your cricketers’ association, and that there is only one cricketers’ body, by the order of the Supreme Court, called the ICA. So, the issue is still going on. We have written to the RCA Ombudsman, and are waiting to see how the issue transpires. We have also spoken to the RCA president [Vaibhav Gehlot, son of state chief minister] and secretary [Mahendra Sharma], but somehow things have not gone as well as we all had expected it,” he rued.
Malhotra said when the elections for players’ reps of the state units were held in 2019, it was clarified that if no one player contested in the states, ICA would nominate former players. Since no players’ election was held in Rajasthan, ICA nominated Rohit Jhalani, the male representative, and Sonia Bijawat, the women rep. But the Gehlot-headed RCA hasn’t permitted them to attend apex council meetings.
“We nominated ICA reps in most of the states. We didn’t know all the states’ players. And in north-eastern states, we got represented from around those states because they didn’t have a history of [first-class] cricketers. For example, for Meghalaya and Mizoram, we got the players’ reps from Bengal, Jharkhand, or Bihar etc,” he said.
Malhotra, who played seven Tests and 20 One-day Internationals between 1982 and 1986, says it would take time for cricket reforms, as desired by the Supreme Court, to take place in the states.
“Now, we have got 76 cricketers in 38 state associations. We don’t expect the apex council members to change things overnight; some members want to dictate. You can’t dictate terms; you have to first find your feet, try to mix, and then start talking about what you want to talk, because you are there only for the cricket thing and not for management. The state associations have their own administrators,” he said, clarifying that players’ reps were concerned only with the cricketing aspect.
“We told the players’ reps in the apex councils that they could discuss the selection, about the ways cricket is run, a cricket advisory committee to be made in every state. A lot of states still don’t have cricket advisory committees, which is a must for every state. These were some of things we discussed in a recent meeting with these reps, and they said that they [administrators] don’t listen to them when they try to talk to them,” said the former Bengal and Haryana player.
Malhotra is, nevertheless, satisfied that a majority of 38 affiliates of the BCCI are being “reasonable”.
“These states are listening to their apex council members; they treat them very well. But some of the associations are very high handed. You know how hierarchy works; they call the shots. You can’t change overnight how the state associations work; it will take time. You can see the Delhi and District Cricket Association, they haven’t changed for whatever reason. As long as the ICA apex council members are allowed into meetings it is a big plus for us. At least, cricketers are getting some kind of representation in the state associations,” he said.