Mumbai news February 25, 2012

Neglected MCA academy has no support staff

The Mumbai Cricket Association's academy has been virtually shut for the last seven months because of a lack of support staff, Lalchand Rajput, the chairman of the committee that oversees the academy has claimed. Built at a cost of Rs 20 crore in 2007, the indoor facility was originally supervised by the former India batsman Dilip Vengsarkar, with former India wicketkeeper Chandrakant Pandit being the director of the academy.

However Vengsarkar withdrew from the MCA after losing the election for president in July, 2011, while Pandit had to resign as director after joining the managing committee. Rajput, the former India batsman, told ESPNcricinfo that the MCA has not even appointed a replacement for Pandit yet.

"There is no support staff yet," Rajput said. "There is only one bowling coach, Pradeep Sundaram. There is no coaching director. There is no batting coach. There is no physio. There is no trainer. No video analyst. Nothing."

Rajput said he has sent eight emails to the secretaries of the MCA, but all them went unanswered. Their silence was the reason he took the matter to the press (the academy's lack of staff was first reported in the Mid-Day, a tabloid, earlier this month).

The MCA responded to Rajput's public comments by issuing a show-cause notice, asking him to explain his actions. Rajput said he would be replying to the notice in the next few days and that he didn't see why he should be criticised for airing what is his view of the situation.

While MCA officials did not respond to phone calls from ESPNcricinfo, association joint-secretary Nitin Dalal told Mid-Day that the support staff would be appointed by the end of February (India's domestic season ends in March). "The appointment of support staff at the indoor academy is on our priority list," Dalal said.

According to Dalal, the costs of hiring staff has contributed to the delay. "From this year onwards, we have started paying the support staff of various teams on a yearly basis instead of season-wise compensation," he said. "So, we had to consider those costs as well. That is why there was a delay in appointments."

Former India captain Ajit Wadekar was critical of the MCA's decision to issue a show-cause notice to Rajput. "Instead of taking concrete action, the MCA has issued show-cause notice," Wadekar said. "If you are not listening to the man who is in-charge of the academy [Rajput], then who will you listen to? It is the MCA's money in the end but it is sad to see it going down the drain in this manner.

"When you can spend hundreds of crores in refurbishing a stadium [Wankhede], why can't you do these small things?"

Additional reporting by Abhishek Purohit

Edited by Kanishkaa Balachandran

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo