The BCCI has decided not to renew the contracts of 11 National Cricket Academy (NCA) coaches, four of them former India players, in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, because of which there has been no activity at the academy in Bengaluru for the past few months and no plans for a restart in the foreseeable future. The BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said the board would advertise for the positions and the people not retained can also apply again.
These coaches - former players Subroto Banerjee, Shiv Sunder Das, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Ramesh Powar, Mansur Ali Khan and Sitanshu Kotak among them - were on one-year contracts for salaries ranging from INR 30 lakh to INR 50 lakh [$40,750 to $67,900 approx.]. They were informed by Rahul Dravid, the NCA boss, that they would not be needed after the deals end on September 30. The other members of the coaching staff to lose their jobs are Rajiv Dutta, Apurva Desai, Atul Gaikwad, Subhadeep Ghosh, and T Dilip.
According to Ganguly, the board was simply following the rules laid out in the BCCI constitution. "Their (the coaches') term has expired," Ganguly told ESPNcricinfo. "As per constitution, new advertisement has to be given and they can apply again. That's the rule."*
On their part the coaches remarked there was no clear reason conveyed to them.
"It came as a shock, because there was no warning, when Rahul called me and said he had some bad news for me," one of the coaches told ESPNcricinfo on condition of anonymity. "There is no cricket (because of Covid-19), so they probably don't want to continue with us. The people who were on long-term contracts are still there, but we have been told to go."
"It is unfortunate, but the contracts have not been renewed," a senior BCCI functionary told ESPNcricinfo. "The idea was to engage them for a whole year, and not on a piecemeal basis, when the NCA got them to work when they were free. So they worked with the national teams - India women, India Under-19, India A, Women's Under-19s, Women's A team - and for our national camps, across age groups, for women and men, which are conducted at NCA throughout the year.
"A lot of good work was going on, with these coaches and all the other people, in the educational wing, where (former India cricketer) Sujith Somasundar is in charge. I hope we consider re-employing them when work resumes at NCA again."
While Dravid was unavailable for comment, one of the coaches we spoke to explained how closely the former India captain had worked with the coaching staff to "try and take Indian cricket to the next level".
"Rahul had handpicked all of us (coaches), and it was done with a plan in place. We have made plans and programmes together, to try and take Indian cricket to the next level, become the best in the world for a long period," one of the coaches said. "We have had meetings twice every week through the pandemic too. Work has been going on.
"Maybe we will be taken back later, but there are no guarantees."
The coaches in question were hired around a year ago by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators, who were in charge of helming the affairs of the BCCI till October last year, on Dravid's recommendation, with an agreement to work 120 days during the course of the year.
In the past, before Dravid took charge, the BCCI would appoint coaches on an ad-hoc basis, mostly as consultants. Former cricketers would be roped in for short stints to guide all age-groups. However, once Dravid was appointed as NCA's director of cricket, he put out a roadmap part of which his vision to provide exposure and growth to Indian domestic coaches.
Along with Saba Karim, Dravid shortlisted candidates they thought could serve in different positions. These coaches were then rotated at India A, women's cricket and Under-19 levels in addition to their responsibilities at the NCA to help them gain the experience of being on the road and understanding the wider challenges of coaching.
*This article was updated at 10am GMT with quotes from Sourav Ganguly.
Shamya Dasgupta is senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo