The BCCI is looking forward to converting the National Cricket Academy (NCA) into a Centre of Excellence — a state-of-the-art facility, designated to be a finishing school for leading young talents. It is learnt that the item is on the agenda, when BCCI president Sourav Ganguly meets NCA director Rahul Dravid and the Academy’s chief operating officer (COO) Tufan Ghosh in Bangalore on Wednesday. BCCI secretary Jay Shah and treasurer Arun Singh Dhumal are expected to be present as well.
The NCA was established in 2000 to nurture top young talents, with the potential to represent India in the future. Of late, though, it has become basically a rehab centre for the injured national team and India A team cricketers. Now that Ganguly has taken charge of the BCCI, former greats like VVS Laxman are expecting an overhaul. During Ganguly’s felicitation at Eden Gardens last week, Laxman had urged that the NCA be transformed into a Centre of Excellence.
“If I have to make one wish to Sourav, it’s just about how he can support, how he can revive the NCA. The greatness of the Indian team is its bench strength. I saw the South African team and it was the most depleted South African team I have seen. It’s because their domestic structure is not strong. Through the NCA, you can produce future champions,” Laxman had said.
With a 40-acre plot that the BCCI acquired for the NCA lying idle near the Bangalore airport, the cricket board has the space to build a state-of-the-art cricket centre. Former NCA chairman Niranjan Shah agreed that it is the need of the hour, while blaming the Committee of Administrators (CoA) that helmed the BCCI for close to three years, for the NCA’s decline.
“See, since the CoA took over, for three years, the NCA was totally neglected. They have talked about its development but never done any development. In my time, we at least purchased 40 acres of land near the airport and they (CoA) haven’t done anything on that. They, also, unnecessarily disbanded the NCA committee comprising members who knew how to run the NCA,” Shah told The Indian Express.
He stressed that the NCA should be a state-of-the-art facility for leading young cricketers a la Cricket Australia’s Centre of Excellence. “At the moment the NCA is housed at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore and there’s not enough space (for its expansion). There’s just one small ground, which is also the KSCA’s property.”
The former BCCI secretary said the NCA should have three cricket grounds, a top-class hostel for the cricketers to stay, practice pitches and indoor facilities. “To convert the NCA into a Centre of Excellence was our dream. There should be two-three Ranji Trophy-level cricket grounds so that a lot of matches can be played. You need a hostel with 50-60 rooms and nice catering services, lots of practice pitches, indoor practice nets, top physios, sports medicine centre… Bangalore was chosen for the NCA because of its weather. We (BCCI) need our own entity at the NCA. We already budgeted Rs 100 crore for the making (overhaul) of the NCA. After 10 years of hard work we could acquire the land,” Shah observed, adding: “It should be the best coaching and rehabilitation centre in the world, where leading young cricketers – U-16, U-19 and A team players selected by the selection committee – can have camps and hone their skills to reach the next level. Also, it should have all the facilities that will allow national team players to go there and train whenever they want.”
Shah hoped that things will improve under Ganguly. “Sourav knows what’s the function of the NCA. He knows its importance. Also, Dravid is there and that’s very good. The NCA has to improve.” He informed that a blueprint is already in place for the NCA’s overhaul. “We laid out the blueprint. We gave all the papers to the state government, detailing our plans. On that basis we got the land.”
The BCCI old hand is also of the view that NCA should have a former cricketer as its COO. “There are so many people with very good cricketing background who can work as the CEO or COO,” Shah said.