The birth of a long sought-after Indian cricketers’ association -- a meaningful one, that is – seems to be not far off. A few efforts have been made in the past but all those efforts failed, primarily for two reasons. One, the failure of players to remain united at all times and, second, the mandarins of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) successfully pitted players against each other to scuttle their attempts to form associations.
But now, following the recommendation of the Lodha Committee to the Supreme Court, a national players’ association is closer than ever. This association will be formed by a steering committee that has also been recommended by the Lodha Committee as part of its revolutionary reforms recommended for cricket structure and governance. Former union home secretary GK Pillai heads the steering committee, with redoubtable former India opening batsman Anshuman Gaekwad being a member.
“The basic thing according to the constitution of the players’ association is done. The articles of the association and memorandum of the association have been formulated. It’s more or less final. Now the process of formation of the body has to be discussed – it has been discussed earlier too – how to go about it, but still not finalised,” Gaekwad told Outlook.
Around five or six meetings of the steering committee have been held so far, after the initial hiccups in the formation of this committee itself. The committee also comprises 1983 World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev, former India wicket-keeper Bharath Reddy and former India women’s captain Shantha Rangaswamy.
Players’ associations will also be formed at all state cricket associations.
The previous meaningful attempt at forming a national players’ body was made in early 2000s, when the movement was led by former India captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, and included Ravi Shastri, Arun Lal and Atul Wassan etc. But the Indian Cricket Players’ Association (ICPA) fizzled out as the then powerful BCCI administrators cleverly dissuaded the top players of the time to disassociate themselves from the association.
Former India opening batsman Arun Lal, who was vice-president with ICPA, is happy to hear that a meaningful association is about to be born. “At least three strong attempts were made earlier to form a national players’ association. But the BCCI saw those efforts as somewhat antagonistic. Now, I am happy that a players’ body would be formed on the basis of Lodha Committee’s recommendations. Players will now become partners in the game, the country, and the world, and not remain just participants,” Lal told Outlook from Kolkata.
Wassan, too, sees an immediate need of a players’ association. “It’s about time we had an association. There have been wheels within wheels whenever the formation of a players’ body would be attempted. The BCCI never wanted a strong players’ association. Hope, the Committee of Administrators (CoA) take a neutral decision while forming the association. I would love to be part of it,” Wassan, a former India pace bowler, said.
But after the Lodha Committee’s historic recommendations – players’ body was one of them -- were accepted by the Supreme Court, now the BCCI can’t oppose it; instead, it will have to bear the expanses of the formation of the national-level body, as per the recommendations.
“There shall be a Cricket Players’ Association affording membership to all international and most first class men and women retired cricketers. This Association shall discharge assigned functions with the financial support of the BCCI. It shall be brought into existence by an independent steering committee,” the Lodha Committee report has recommended.
Once formed, the new cricketers’ association will have to become a member of the international body -- the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA). At the moment, national players’ associations of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, England, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland, and Scotland are members of FICA.
FICA is a founding member of The World Players Association (WPA), which brings together 85,000 players across professional sport through more than 100 players’ associations in over 60 countries.
All in all, players will, hopefully, finally get their due.