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BCCI issues guidelines to state associations on age fudging

In its drive to fight age-fudging at the junior level the BCCI has asked all state associations to apply regulations more stringently while admitting players at the Under-19 level. Starting from the 2016-17 season, players who enter competitive cricket at the Under-19 level will need to submit at least three documents to attest their date of birth, while the age-verification programme [AVP] and the Tanner-Whitehouse 3 method [TW3] to test bone maturity will continue to be implemented at the Under-16 level.

"There are some cricketers who enter at the Under-19 age-group level. Such players should submit at least three documents to support their date of birth if they are to be considered to participate in the Under-19 tournaments directly without having entered the BCCI circuit at the Under-16 level," Ajay Shirke, the BCCI secretary, said in an e-mail to the state associations on July 1.

The move came after the BCCI decided last month, during a working committee meeting, that players who have represented India in one Under-19 World Cup cannot take part in another edition of the tournament, even if they meet the age criteria to do so.

Age-fudging has always been a controversial topic and was in the headlines last December after former India captain Rahul Dravid, in his MAK Pataudi Memorial lecture, said the "scourge of overage players" in junior cricket was no different to "fixing and corruption."

Despite its efforts, the BCCI has been largely unsuccessful in tackling age-fudging and players have faked birth certificates to gain entry into junior cricket. According to Shirke, it was the responsibility of the state associations to put an end to the problem of fake certificates. "You are requested to discourage cricketers who submit birth certificates issued just a few years before," his email said. "As per the Government of India rules, the birth has to be registered within one year of the birth of the child."

In 2012 the BCCI decided to adopt the Tanner-Whitehouse 3 method [TW3], which determines the age of a child based on the growth of bones in the hand, especially the wrist. The margin of error in this method is six months. Prior to that the BCCI had relied on the Greulich & Pyle method [GP method] at a certified hospital, but the margin of error in this method could be up to two years. In 2012, the BCCI also introduced the age-verification programme [AVP], which is overseen by Dr Vece Paes, a former Olympic hockey player and one of the leading sports medicine specialists in the country.

Shirke said that both methods will be used to ensure player eligibility at the Under-16 level. "Under-16 is the formal entry point for players participating in the BCCI Junior Tournaments and they have to undergo age verification process to be eligible. The age-verification process involves bone rating - TW3 method. Only those who pass the bone rating are eligible to play in the Under-16 tournaments."