The way to go, BCCI

Munaf Patel, who hails from Ikkal, a village in Bharuch District with no facilities for cricket, had to go to Tankaria, a bigger village nearby, to practise with a cricket ball.-AP

The BCCI's new initiatives are primarily aimed at giving the requisite facilities to talented youngsters in rural areas.

There is good news for the young cricketers from India's small towns. The BCCI has decided to promote cricket academies in every state and has told the associations to make these functional within three months.

The associations have also been told to build indoor cricket schools. This laudable move by the BCCI will be a big boon to the players from the East Zone and some of the coastal areas as they can't play outdoors for four months during the monsoon. The indoor facilities will also come in handy in the height of the summer season in most parts of India as the monsoon and the heat prevent the playing of cricket outdoors for six months in a year.

The National Cricket Academy (NCA) is producing qualified coaches at a good rate and it's imperative that they be employed. Hopefully, the state academies will provide that opportunity.

The NCA appears to be very keen on conducting courses for coaches, but very little has been done to find out whether these qualified coaches are utilised by their associations. The BCCI will have to ensure that the associations adhere to the conditions mentioned in the letter regarding the promotion of state academies and do not instead opt for non-qualified coaches.

It's not that non-qualified coaches are detrimental to the growth of cricketers. But when it has been decided to train coaches in a uniform pattern, employing non-qualified coaches could create problems. These non-qualified coaches will coach the way they had played. And when the qualified coach also steps in, the players will be pulled apart by two very different coaching styles and the coaches' egos.

The associations have also been informed that they must have board and lodge facilities so that players from the districts can be accommodated during the off-season camps. As things stand, teenagers need more time to get their technical faults rectified. They will get this if the associations start their cricket activities in three months.

The problem these teenagers face is that during the off-season they don't get to practise and the inter-state tournaments begin within a month after the monsoon. Less than a month of practice is not sufficient for them to do well in the tournament.

The BCCI has also insisted on having a software for video analysis. This is very important for the players as most of the time they are allowed to practise without getting their faults identified. Consequently, they perfect their mistakes to the long-term detriment of their careers.

How will the BCCI ensure that the academies are running as per plan and what will be the process of monitoring? The NCA has no tool to monitor the progress made by its trainees once they graduate. There should be a proper technical coordination between the state academies and the NCA.

Any system has grey areas when it starts functioning, but solutions can be found. Techno-administrative modules have to be drafted in such a way that the grey areas are reduced and the academies run smoothly. If managed properly, the state academies will contribute immensely to Indian cricket.

The majority of players in the present Indian team are from the districts. For example, Munaf Patel comes from a small village called Ikkal in Bharuch district. The cricket facilities there are so meagre that Patel would go to the slightly better-off Tankaria, a village nearby, to get to play with an actual cricket ball.

While Munaf has made it to the Indian team, there has been no change in the ground conditions or the cricket that is played in Ikkal as I saw a few weeks back though I got to see some really fiery fast bowlers. But Munaf's success motivated a wealthy Tankaria resident to provide the village with a ground of several turf pitches and a lush green outfield.

The state academies should now look for potential players by having talent resource development officers in the villages. Only then will the BCCI's concept of having state academies reap dividends.