September 29, 2000

Board puts off decision on foreign coach

It is not often that the annual general meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, scheduled for two days, is over in a day. But as AC Muthiah, unanimously re-elected president for a second term, told a press conference at the end of the day in Chennai on Friday, the deliberations were ``remarkably smooth'' and there was ``unanimity in all major decisions.'' The result was that the transactions, which started around 10 in the morning were over by 5 in the evening. And it was a relaxed Muthiah and JY Lele, also re-elected for a fourth term who met reporters at the end of the day.

Not unexpectedly, besides Muthiah and Lele, joint secretary Jyoti Bajpai, treasurer KM Rungta and executive secretary Sharad Diwadkar also kept their posts. There were two changes in the list of the vice presidents. Narhari Amin replaced Manohar Joshi from the West Zone while PK Mishra replaced AN Singh from the East Zone. CK Khanna (North Zone), Kamal Morarka (Central Zone) and KM Ramprasad (South Zone) retained their posts as vice presidents.

On the subject of elections, a lot of interest centered around the composition of the senior selection committee. There were no surprises here too. Madhya Pradesh's Sanjay Jagdale replaced Anil Deshpande from the Central Zone. The others - Chandu Borde (Chairman-West Zone), Madanlal (North), Ashok Malhotra (East) and TA Sekhar (South) - retained their posts.

Naturally there was a lot of discussion at the meeting regarding the appointment of the foreign coach for the national team. Surprisingly a decision on this was put off. Muthiah acknowledged there were four contenders for the post - Australia's Geoff Marsh, New Zealand's John Wright, Australia's Dean Jones and West Indies' Andy Roberts. But he said the board still had an open mind on the issue. He added that it was decided that the board would appoint a committee to interview the candidates and he expressed the hope that the coach would be appointed in time for the Zimbabwe tour of India in November-December. He said that there was a proposal to have an Indian as assistant coach so that he could be groomed to take over in time. Under the circumstances, Anshuman Gaekwad, already appointed as coach for the tournaments in Nairobi and Sharjah will stay on in the post for the one off Test in Bangladesh in early November.

On the possibility of shifting the National Cricket Academy from Bangalore to Chennai, Muthiah said the final decision was left to the NCA committee. He admitted that the Tamil Nadu government had offered land for the purpose but added that the Karnataka State Cricket Association had come up with a similar proposal and it was left to the NCA committee to decide on which would be the better location.

Muthiah said the meeting had decided to take steps to implement the code of conduct for players and officials. In this connection there would be a disciplinary committee which would see that the code was followed strictly. Another important decision taken, he said, was to start a benevolent fund scheme for retired players and umpires. This would provide medical help for all first class players in case of terminal illness. He said this was in addition to the insurance scheme already prevalent for a cricketer sustaining injury during play. Also, the players fees and match allowances for domestic cricket have been enhanced. He also said there would be two new domestic tournaments in the under-14 and under-22 categories at the zonal level.

Muthiah said the meeting had awarded a benefit match for former Indian captain S Venkatraghavan. He said that the tradition was to allot a ODI for a player who had played in 100 Tests. But in Venkatraghavan's case, since he had also umpired in more than 40 Tests, besides playing in 57 Test matches, he had been allotted a ODI. He said on a formal application from Venkatraghavan, a suitable ODI will be allotted.

On the proposed tour to Pakistan by the Indian team, Muthiah said it was subject to the approval by the government. ``We have left the decision to the government,'' he said.

Muthiah said that applications had been received from the proposed new states of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Uttaranchal as also from the union territories of Chandigarh and Pondicherry for affiliation. A committee would be formed to go into the merits of the applications, he said.

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