Puducherry will be eligible to play the Ranji Trophy next season after the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) granted Associate Membership to the Cricket Association of Pondicherry (CAP). In its communication on Wednesday, a copy of which is with ESPNcricinfo, the CoA said it accepted the recommendations of the BCCI's affiliation committee, which comprises former India batsman Anshuman Gaekwad and administrator Prakash Dixit. The committee had submitted two reports in April and July respectively following as many visits to Puducherry. The CAP is represented by president GM Arun Kumar and secretary P Damodaran.
The issue of granting membership in Puducherry wasn't straightforward, with three different bodies - Puducherry Cricket Association- Kalaimani (PCA-Kalaimani), Puducherry Cricket Association- Velmurugan (PCA-Velmurugan) and CAP - staking claim to represent the union territory's cricketing activities. An order of the Supreme Court on September 21 had asked the CoA to pass on the reports of the affiliation committee to the parties in dispute. The CoA subsequently invited the three claimants to appear in person on September 27 and make oral submissions. They were also asked to make their written submissions on or before September 29.
In its reports, the Affiliation Committee acknowledged that the PCA - registered as a society in 1968 with the Registrar of Companies and Societies, Puducherry, under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 - "appears to have been involved in cricketing activities in Puducherry for much longer than the CAP (registered in 2003)." However, the committee added that the various litigations between "different factions/groups" of the PCA meant that such an association "cannot be expected to focus on cricketing activity and properly administer/manage cricket in Puducherry."
"The disputes between rival factions/groups of the PCA are likely to create confusion in the minds of budding cricketers," the report said. It further said that even the BCCI, the parent body, would find it difficult to deal with such an sassociation.
In contrast, the affiliation committee found that the CAP "seems to be more organised with some system in place" to develop cricket in the union territory. According to the committee, the CAP had submitted that it was the only active cricket body in all parts of Puducherry, including Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam districts. Further, the CAP had claimed to have conducted under-15 all-India inter-state tournaments, which included teams from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand. The CAP also said it had the support of the Government of Puducherry and had adopted the recommendations of the Lodha Committee.
"The Affiliation Committee also met the vice-chancellor of Pondicherry University, who assured that Pondicherry University is willing to provide the small cricket stadium called Rajiv Gandhi Stadium which is located in the premises of Pondicherry University and enter into MoU with CAP," the CoA wrote.
"In light of the aforesaid, the Committee of Administrators is of the view that there is no reason to not accept the recommendation of the Affiliation Committee and grant affiliation to the CAP. The submissions made and documents submitted by the claimants do not disclose any reason, let alone compelling reasons, to reject the Affiliation Committee's recommendation, which recommendation has been made after two visits to Puducherry."
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun