NCA’s sheen has faded and we need to look at other alternatives, writes Makarand Waingankar
A sporting nation not only needs to win at the highest level but should also keep on producing fresh talent at the grassroots level. This is the only way we can sustain good cricket teams.
The National Cricket Academy was launched with much ado and it produced Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Mohammad Kaif in the inaugural year itself. However, its sheen is all but lost now and we need to look at other alternatives to rejuvenate cricket in India.
The BCCI had resolved at the last AGM to set up five zonal academies with one additional centre for the North-East area. It has to be said that this vast country needs zonal academies so that many players from different age groups can get an opportunity to improve their skills. The structure that exists as of now merely concentrates on a few performers.
In this light, the decision to shut three specialist academies has come in good time. It wasn’t serving any purpose.
The NCA committee has hardly met in the past six months. Ideally it should have had a meeting in February and the performers of the season should have been intimated about their selections so that they could have worked on the fitness. The camps would have begun from the first week of April. However, since the committee hasn’t met yet, all these modalities haven’t been finalised. To add to this is the fact that barring a few State academies, no State association has a decent summer vacation academy in place. The players who have performed during the season need guidance to go to the next level but if their respective academies aren’t functioning, how will they progress?
The initiative taken by the hon. secretary of the Andhra Cricket Association (ACA), Dr. G. Gangaraju is commendable. The association runs academies at three places under the former Indian wicketkeeper M.S.K. Prasad who is the director of cricket operations. The process of grooming youngsters is simple and efficient. 35 players are selected from each age group. They are provided free food, accommodation, clothing, kit and footwear and above all free education in quality educational institutions. This is praiseworthy because education for cricketers often gets ignored, especially those who start playing from a young age.
Boys of these academies stay within the academy round the year with a good spread of breaks. Each academy is headed by one level C coach and assisted by two coaches, one trainer and a physio. The functioning of these residential academies costs the ACA Rs. 9 crore per annum. What is more, the association also has an exclusive women’s academy in Guntur. Girls of various age groups are selected in batches.
The other State associations have a lot to learn from the Andhra Cricket Association and how they have simplified the process by sheer sincerity in their work.
This academy model should be imitated and made mandatory for each of the State association which receive around Rs. 30 crore per annum.
Technically all associations are expected to spend a certain percentage of their grant on an academy. Not many have done it and some of these State associations have been headed by the bigwigs of the BCCI.
This is a silent reminder to the BCCI officials to clean up the system so that the tournaments continue to have some quality as well!