Former India team manager Sunil Subramaniam has claimed that a member of the support staff was investigated by, among others, the Antigua police for ‘behaving inappropriately’ with the housekeeping personnel of the team hotel. Subramaniam also lashed out at the BCCI for inaction, saying it was ‘beyond belief’. The alleged incident took place during the first Test between India and West Indies in Antigua from August 22 to 26.
Subramaniam, whose stint as the team manager ended after the Caribbean tour, highlighted the issue in an email to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) on September 25. Subramaniam also alleged that the BCCI hushed up the issue even after the inquiry conducted by the local police, hotel management and an official from the West Indies Cricket Board found the support staff member guilty.
Subramaniam said he was informed about the alleged misconduct by WICB’s manager of operations Roland Holder. “Investigation by the Hotel management, Antiguan Police, Roland Holder of Cricket West Indies and myself along with the team Security manager and logistics manager did confirm that it was indeed a member of the support staff,” he wrote in the email.
He added that the ‘inaction of the BCCI on a matter as grave as this is beyond belief.’ “The matter was handled in such a manner that the team and more importantly the concerned member of the team was spared any embarrassment from any entity that would exploit it for obvious reasons,” Subramaniam wrote. “I am beginning to wonder if this is some kind of old boys club at the CEO’s office that has its own clique to protect or are they dismissive and disdainful about such transgressions in the Indian team?”
Subramaniam was removed as the manager after he was accused of high-handed behaviour with top officials of the Indian High Commission during the tour. He, however, claimed that the support staff member accused of misbehaviour “is still very much a part of the Indian team.”
In a subsequent email, however, Subramaniam backed down from allegations made regarding BCCI not taking any action and requested the CoA to ‘withdraw the earlier email sent’. “The reference to old boys club in the letter was purely in the context of some members of the support staff in the cricket team who were not doing the work expected out of them. As regards the indiscretion of support staff mentioned, it would be best if he has a word spoken to on not to repeat such indiscretions in future. A detailed report as a follow up to the match report will be sent later.”
‘No reason to apologize’
In the email, Subramaniam has also claimed that the Indian team had to skip a training session in Trinidad as they spent four hours shooting for the government’s Swachh Bharat campaign.
Subramaniam was accused of misbehaving with the officials of the Indian high commission in the West Indies. The BCCI had contemplated calling him back midway from the tour, but the CoA let him off with a reprimand after he tendered ‘an unconditional apology.’
Subramaniam, however, said in the email that ‘I have no reason to be apologetic over the issue’ and he had done so only to avoid a ‘ needless controversy in the middle of an already poorly organised tour wherein issues on the teams basic comforts off the field needed to (be) addressed first.’
“Let me set the facts straight. On receipt of a mail on requirement of the Indian Team for the (sic) Swatch Bharat shoot on 10th August…, the shoot which took 4 hours and a practice session was skipped for it, was completed on 13th August. Does any unbiased mind think that the team would have agreed to do that if they did not have my trust and am I really the kind of person to disobey instructions?” Subramaniam wrote.
Subramaniam said he requested the second secretary of the Indian consulate in Trinidad for a written communication from senior BCCI officials to get the team for a shoot. He continued: “Does the BCCI seriously expect team manager to organise the Indian team for such a major off the field event during an overseas tour based on a whatsapp message from an official of the Indian Consulate in Trinidad wherein BCCI’s internal administrative functions are casually messaged that “Mr.Vinod Rai has spoken to Virat Kohli” or on an instruction/communication from the BCCI to the team manager?”
He went on to highlight the logistical problems faced by the team during the tour, saying meals weren’t served on time at some locations while the team had to wait for four hours in the lobby of the hotel in Port of Spain. “The hotel in Fort Lauderdale was substandard, no meals were served on a 4 hour chartered flight from Fort Lauderdale to Georgetown, Guyana, missed baggage’s on the flight from Georgetown to Port of Spain and the team had to wait 4 hours in the lobby of the hotel at Port of Spain, Trinidad before allotment of 12 rooms which incidentally included rooms for the Captain and the Head Coach,” he wrote.
Subramaniam urged the BCCI to appoint a professional logistics manager for the team to avoid such incidents in future. “The role of the current logistics manager is not aligned to industry standards for any professional organisation,” he remarked.