When former batting star Sandeep Patil was handpicked by the bigwigs of the Indian cricket board last September to head the national selection panel, the move was hailed as a surprise weapon to cure Indian cricket’s on-field ills after two crushing series defeats in England (2011) and Australia (2011-12).
Patil was pulled out of his Director role at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore to replace his 1983 World Cup-winning teammate Krishnamachari Srikkanth as chairman of selectors
After nearly a year, Indian cricket looks good again from a performance perspective. And, the home series loss to England last year now seems only an aberration.
However, what has happened to the NCA where Patil called the shots before his current role? To say it is nothing short of a crumbling house would be an understatement if people in the know are to be believed.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), in their infinite ‘wisdom’ have not appointed a director and important coaches have decided to leave the Garden City in frustration.
The institution set up mainly through the efforts of late BCCI president Raj Singh Dungarpur in the new millennium is now virtually run by a handful of old hands. Less than a year ago, this newspaper had revealed what a strong hand the NCA played in preparing the Indian u-19 team for their World Cup triumph in Australia as well as an earlier tour to that country where no team can succeed without thorough preparation considering the fast tracks.
It is learnt the BCCI has decided to cut costs for the running of the Academy. That is fine to a point, but not to an extent where the future of Indian cricket is at the receiving end.
The NCA cannot be just a rehabilitation centre. It shouldn’t be a mere finishing school either. Ideally, it should be Indian cricket’s centre of excellence where out of favour players can come and tighten up their game and mentor the younger ones whenever the opportunity presents itself. What better time to take fresh guard in a crisis!