Inconvenient scheduling

GUESS at what time the Indian team left Guyana to go to Trinidad ? They left their hotel at 2.30 a.m. for a 5 o'clock flight. Guess at what time the West Indies team that had drawn the first Test leave for Trinidad? At 1.15 in the afternoon to catch a 3 p.m. flight. Not only that but on arrival at the hotel in Port of Spain at 7 in the morning the Indian team was made to wait till well past noon in the lobby till their rooms were got ready. The West Indians came well rested and were quickly into their rooms. This is not to blame the West Indies Board, but to ask who from our Board agreed to such a schedule that put our team to inconvenience?

Would any Board administrator like to be kept waiting for several hours in the lobby for his room to be ready, that too after having hardly slept to catch a flight? If the answer is yes, then ignore this article but if it's a resounding no, as I expect it would be, then surely questions need to be asked why and who was responsible for this scheduling.

For a Board, which is rolling in money and spends it on others as if it is going out of fashion, it is incredible how they are looking to save and pinch the odd Rupee when it comes to our players. Worse still was the knowledge that there was a flight at 10 in the morning, which the team could have taken, and also had a decent night's rest in the hotel in Guyana. Was it that much of a problem to check flights or was the early morning flight cheaper? Fortunately there was no play at all on the last day of the first Test, which meant the boys weren't exhausted, but still the timing irks. And someone should be held accountable. In the past too the Board has been guilty of trying to save money by sending the team on a convoluted route when a shorter but slightly more expensive route was available.

Indian sports administrators will scrimp when it's a question of the players' comforts but when it concerns them they want only the best. That would be acceptable if it was their own money they were using but it's the money that the players bring in that is used for their comforts than for that of the players. Show me an official especially, higher ranking, who has travelled economy class overseas and I will show you players who have travelled in discomfort yet have had no option but to go and play the next day and deliver the goods. Indian cricket has come a long way from the time the teams stayed in railway bogies, something which I believe the railway players in different sports still do, but there are still many in the Board who complain that the players are being spoilt by giving them a comfortable mode of travel and good hotels to stay in.

The Board is sending a two man team to England to have a look at the arrangements there before the Indian team goes there in June and while this is partly due to the fact that the English sent an advance team to check our facilities, it is still a good idea so long as the guys who go there aren't sent as a reward for their voting at the Annual General Meeting of the Board. In today's security environment it makes sense to send an advance party but what do these people know about security? Ideally therefore a security official should have gone since he would have known what to look for and what care to take for the safety of our players.

It is important for the team that is going there to look at the distance of the hotel from the ground and whether it has gym facilities for our players to work out in case of rain. Also considering our players are mainly vegetarians there should be some restaurants where they can get vegetarian food closeby. These are perhaps simple matters but it can mean the boys are that much more relaxed and in a better frame of mind to play the game than worry about where they are going to get good vegetarian food. It is not just playing conditions, but living conditions that are equally important for the players to give their best.

India will be touring New Zealand at the end of the year and the Board must ask the New Zealand Cricket Inc. to send the list of hotels and the airline schedules so that the best comfortable way for the team is booked. Since there are going to be seven one dayers there and that too day-night ones it is all the more important for the team to be well rested before each game and for that it is crucial to get them flights at a civilised hour and so does not take a toll on their energy. So also for the World Cup in South Africa we must find out the best flights for the hotels will be decided by the hosts. It is not too much to ask for but planning well in advance makes it that much easier than trying to get things done at the last moment for then with a party of around twenty people it becomes difficult to make changes.

Accountability is the new buzzword in the Board and we will know whether it is an empty buzz or a serious one only after action is taken against those responsible for the fiasco which affected the team in Guyana and Trinidad.