Former India cricketers Manoj Prabhakar, Ajay Jadeja, and Ajay Sharma say they are hopeful of getting their long-pending dues from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) after former captain Mohammed Azharuddin’s dues were cleared by the Board a few days ago. (More Cricket News)
A few days ago, Prabhakar wrote to new BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, his former India teammate, and requested him to have his long overdue benevolent fund released and also have his monthly gratis, which retired international players and first-class cricketers receive, started. The monthly gratis was started in May 2004 while the benevolent fund was stopped a few years ago.
“...I must say that the treatment I am getting [from the BCCI] as a former international cricket player is not good, and I expect that being a [former] cricket player, you will take up my cause on a priority basis,” Prabhakar, 56, wrote in his November 19 letter sent to Ganguly. Ganguly took over as BCCI president on October 23.
In December 2000, the BCCI had banned these four players for various periods for their alleged involvement in the match-fixing scandal. Azharuddin and Sharma were banned for life while Prabhakar and Jadeja, along with then Indian team physiotherapist Doctor Ali Irani, were banned for five years. All the players have since been accepted back in the official fold by the BCCI’s affiliated state associations.
Azharuddin was given a clean chit by the Hyderabad bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on a technicality in November 2012 and, based on this judgment the Central District, Tis Hazari Courts in Delhi cleared Ajay Sharma. Prabhakar and Jadeja served their bans of five years.
The BCCI had held back the benevolent fund of all the banned players and didn't start their monthly gratis. Despite the benevolent having been discontinued a few years ago, the players who have not received their money are entitled to that, as the clearance of Azharuddin’s dues testifies. The banned players, in all fairness, will also be entitled to the one-time monetary benefit that was given to players in 2013.
After his ban was over in November 2005, Prabhakar served as coach for various teams. He was the bowling coach of the Gautam Gambhir-captained Delhi when the team won the Ranji Trophy title in 2007-08. Besides, he has been the chief coach of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, and the bowling coach of the Afghanistan national team.
Azharuddin, 56, entered politics and was elected to Lok Sabha on a Congress party ticket from Moradabad in 2009 and recently won the president’s post of the Hyderabad Cricket Association. Jadeja, 48, captained Delhi and was appointed captain-cum-coach of Haryana after his ban was over, besides doing media work. On the other hand, Ajay Sharma, 55, has turned to coaching.
“If Azharuddin’s dues have been, am sure mine would also be released. I have also written to the BCCI. They have been waiting for the BCCI AGM to take place to decide this issue. Now the AGM is over. But so far there’s no intimation from the Board. I have already made a representation to the Vinod Rai-headed Committee of Administrators, and now probably I’ll have to write to Ganguly as well,” Sharma told Outlook.
While writing its judgment in Ajay Sharma’s favour, the single judge bench of Tis Hazari Courts wrote: “It is also directed that the defendant, i.e. the BCCI, will release the fund and allowance in favour of the plaintiff, if he is otherwise entitled, and he will not be debarred from taking part in the activities of the defendant or its associates on the basis of the orders dated 05.12.2000.”
In his letter to Ganguly, Prabhakar points out that he had written several letters to successive BCCI presidents and other officials, but all in vain. He says his hope was renewed after Ganguly became BCCI president. Ganguly and Prabhakar have appeared together for India in a solitary international match, a One-day International against the West Indies during the 1992 Benson & Hedges World Series in Brisbane.
Prabhakar further writes that cricketers have “high hopes” from Ganguly and expect resolution of many issues lingering for years. “I am amongst those who would like to highlight my personal issue of the non-release of my benevolent fund by the BCCI since the year 2004 and also exclusion of myself from ex-cricketers’ pension scheme,” he writes.
“In the last many years, I haven’t received any positive response [from the BCCI] in this regard which always creates a big doubt not only in my mind but also of others who are related with cricket. It [the non-release of benevolent fund] is against the spirit of law, as I was allowed to participate in cricketing and other related activities, but my benevolent fund has been denied and I am also not included in the pension scheme for former cricket players,” says Prabhakar. “I hope to hear a positive reply from you soon.”
Prabhakar had earlier written several letters to several former administrators. These included DDCA president Arun Jaitley and general secretary SP Bansal, BCCI presidents Sharad Pawar and Shashank Manohar, Board secretary N. Srinivasan, and Vinod Rai, head of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators. “Even after so much of correspondence with the BCCI as well as the DDCA, I am unable to get my benevolent fund, which really hurts me, especially when I have served the Indian cricket team as well as domestic teams with dedication and have shown good results,” says the former mercurial all-rounder.