Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Just 10 days are left for Delhi’s first match of the new domestic cricket season, but the administratively crippled and corruption-hit Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) has not taken a single step towards fielding a team in the BCCI’s under-19 women’s tournament, which gets underway on 22 September.
A few days later, Delhi is scheduled to play its first match of the under-19 Vinoo Mankad Trophy, against Himachal in New Delhi followed by their first Ranji Trophy game against Rajasthan, starting on 1 October in Jaipur. But no steps are being taken for these tournaments too.
Different sets of administrators could be seen closeted in their congested rooms, discussing politics and not cricket over a plate of snacks and tea (and, at times, over a glass of beer). There is no cricketing activity that may tell you that the 2015-16 cricket season is just days away.
It is easy to assess that cricket clearly remains the last priority for the DDCA administrators, some of whom are facing police and governmental inquiries for alleged financial embezzlement.
A whole lot of preparations are required – constituting selection panels, appointing coaches and support staff, selection of teams, ordering playing kit for players, organising coaching camps, booking hotel rooms in different cities and making travel arrangements – for raising, and fielding, teams in the BCCI-organised national tournaments.
Delhi’s first match of the 2015-16 season is an under-19 women’s game against Himachal Pradesh on September 22 – just 10 days from now – and no one knows who will be the players, captain, coaches and support staff of this and other teams. Neither has anybody a clue about about the selection committees.
Interestingly, everyone at the DDCA blames the other for the current mess and also not being able to take cricketing decisions. As one official said, “It can happen only at the Kotla.”
“No one is interested in cricket at the DDCA,” one of the officials told jantakareporter.com. “All everyone wants is to get their kids/relatives into the various Delhi teams. And that is why they are keenly awaiting the result of the sports working committee, to see if their ‘man’ wins or not. If their ‘man’ wins he can easily get their kids selected. So, a lot is at stake in this extremely complicated election.”
Interestingly, only 110 clubs are taking part in this annual election. But the mess in manifold, and several clubs have multiple owners.
Just for comparison, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), which has won the Ranji Trophy a record 40 times, announced its selection committees and coaches for all the men and women tournaments more than two months ago, on June 30 to be precise. It was to ensure that the preparations for the upcoming season could begin effectively. Even Sachin Tendulkar has visited the camps to provide tips and boost players’ morale.
Ideally, the preparations should have begun long ago in Delhi too. A couple of days ago, a meek effort was made to invite some girls to start a preparatory camp at a women’s college ground in south Delhi. But the players were disbursed before the camp could take off, again due to convoluted politics of the DDCA. Till now, there is no clarity as to who would be in-charge of women’s cricket.
Some people within the DDCA allege that the delay is deliberate, and with a specific purpose.
“It has always been a tactic of some people to delay everything, be it the selection of teams, purchase of players’ kits, or anything else. If the selection of teams is delayed till the eleventh hour, it becomes easy to manipulate the selectors and get undeserving players in. And these teams are never announced to the media, so no scrutiny and no accountability for the corrupt selector/administrator,” explained a DDCA insider.
“Similarly, purchase of players’ kits and other items are also deliberately delayed, so that no quotations could be invited and the contract could be given to their favourite ‘men’ for a commission. There are many people in the DDCA whose entire source of income is through various DDCA purchases as they receive heavy commission,” he said.
Corruption and mismanagement have allegedly been rampant in the functioning of the DDCA for many years. But something unusual happened last year: an internal audit report was done in 2013-14. And, lo and behold, a spate of financial irregularities came to the fore, involving some of the top DDCA administrators.
This led to a separate internal inquiry by the DDCA compelling the few clean people to question those allegedly involved in corruption within the association. No concrete action was taken on the damning internal report, which corroborated the findings of the auditor’s report. Yet, all administrators have continued to rule.
Shockingly, the DDCA has failed to submit its accounts and balance sheet for two successive years – 2013-14 and 2014-15 – with the BCCI and with the other government bodies as the DDCA is a company. It is appalling that the BCCI has turned a blind eye to the goings on at the DDCA. Many experts have attributed the BCCI’s apathy towards the ‘shenanigans’ of the DDCA to ‘the vote politics.’
Kirti Azad, a former Delhi captain and an ex-India ODI player, seized the opportunity and even raised the issue of corruption in Parliament.
His persistence paid off as it led to an inquiry by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and the Delhi police. Some officials were monetarily penalised for transgressions a while ago, and that is it.
Amid all this chaos, mismanagement and financial irregularities no one appears bothered about the domestic tournaments and the adverse impact it will have on our cricketing talents.