Mohinder Amarnath, part of the steering committee of the players association, recommended by the Lodha Panel, believes that the body, once formed, could be here to stay.
Amarnath welcomed the idea. “With the recommendations coming from the Supreme Court-appointed panel, we have to respect it. Now that Shashank Manohar is in charge, the BCCI will move in the right direction,” he told The Indian Express.
The Lodha committee in its final report has proposed the formation of a Players’ Association that will allow the cricketers to have “a voice to raise their concerns”. Historically, however, the BCCI has been averse to this idea and always looked at such initiatives as an act of rebellion.
In 1989, the Association of Indian Cricketers (AIC) had been formed with Kapil Dev as its president and former India opener Arun Lal working as the secretary. The cricket board went on the warpath and ensured the initiative fizzled out.
In 2002, The Indian Cricket Players Association (ICPA) was launched in Kolkata with the late Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi taking charge as the president and Arun Lal once again getting the secretary’s post. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath were the star members of the organisation. The then BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya had attended the inaugural dinner but the working committee flatly refused to give official recognition to the body.
As things stand now, India is only Test-playing nation not to have a players’ association. Indian cricketers are not allowed to be affiliated with the Federation of International Cricketers (FICA) as well.
The Supreme Court-appointed three-member committee has tried to address the issue. “While almost all Test playing nations have a Players’ Association, there seems to have been reluctance on the part of the BCCI to initiate such a move, ostensibly due to the apprehension of unionization.
“A very important step towards improving the lot of the players is to give them a voice to raise their concerns and have them discussed with the BCCI. Apart from this, in cricketing matters, the ex-cricketers’ skill, expertise and experience deserve to be utilised for the betterment of the game. As every other Test Playing nation has a Players’ Association, and even the Players’ representative at the ICC is an Indian, it is only fitting that an independent Players’ Association is established,” the committee said in its report.
It has recommended a four-member steering committee comprising former union home secretary GK Pillai (chairperson) and former India cricketers Mohinder Amarnath, Anil Kumble and ex-Indian women’s team captain Diana Edulji “to identify and invite all eligible Ex-Cricketers to be members of the Association, to open bank accounts, receive funds from the BCCI, conduct the first elections for office bearers, communicate the names of BCCI player nominees to the Board and take all necessary steps in this regard”. The panel made it clear that the association “shall be comprised only of Players who have retired from competitive cricket in all forms of the game”.
Lal quashed the apprehension of unionisation. “I don’t perceive an association as a union. The players won’t be there to fight against the BCCI. An association is there for the welfare of cricket. Here we work hand in hand with the BCCI towards a common goal. It’s very unstatesman-like to consider players’ association as a union. “Earlier, we had been unable to explain to them (BCCI) that setting up an association is not a confrontation. We couldn’t get our message across. Players are an integral part of the game and they should be part of the entire governance of the game. It would be very good if it happens,” he said.