Despite former India skipper Rahul Dravid requesting the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to take age-fraud issues seriously, the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) has reportedly decided to relax the punishment on players found guilty of fudging their age.
The previous punishment was a two-year ban for players caught fudging their age. But as per minutes of the CoA meeting on June 29, the players will now be allowed to participate in club matches/tournaments in the second year.
Also Read: BCCI Announces Two-Year Ban For Age Frauds
Age fraud is a perennial phenomenon facing junior cricket. In 2016, former India captain Rahul Dravid had acknowledged age-fudging as a major problem in Indian cricket and welcomed BCCI's decision to allow a player to compete in the U-19 World Cup only once.
Dravid said in his MAK Pataudi Lecture that the "scourge of overage players in junior cricket" was no different to "fixing and corruption." "Like the issue of bowling actions, it is a similar emphasis on short-term results that has led to the scourge of overage players in junior matches."
Also Read: Age Fraud Hits Indian Football
"That entire exercise begins when a coach alters a player's date of birth so that he can take part in a local tournament. The parents are happy to accept the value of an extra year or two, particularly in junior cricket and, academically, at middle school," Dravid had said.
And state associations of the board aren't willing to abide by the CoA ruling.
A senior state association functionary said that this was completely uncalled for and that it goes against the basic principle of being custodians of the sport.
Also Read: MI Pacer Salam Suspended For Age Fraud
"This is shocking and goes against the very principles of the sport that we are supposed to be the custodians of. Is this not enabling corruption? The BCCI has previously gone to great lengths to root out this menace and it is disappointing to see that all that is being undone," IANS quoted the functionary as saying.
Another state body official echoed the sentiment and said that there was no way that they would allow players to participate in club games before the end of the two-year ban.
"At the state association level we will not implement this relaxation because we cannot permit this apathy. Strict action is the order of the day when it comes to matters such as fudging of age," the official pointed.
The BCCI had in November last year announced that a player guilty of age-fraud will be barred for two years.
"The BCCI has a zero-tolerance policy for age fraud in sport and has taken strict action against cricketers found guilty of manipulating their date of birth certificates while registering for BCCI tournaments," said the BCCI in a statement.
"As conveyed to state associations at the start of the season, BCCI wishes to reiterate that from the 2018-19 season, any cricketer who is found guilty of tampering his/her date of birth will be disqualified and barred from participating in any BCCI tournament for a period of 2 years i.e. 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons," it added.
Interestingly, it is believed that Mumbai Indians pacer Rasikh Salam who was banned for two years for submitting a faulty birth certificate to the Indian cricket board has requested the BCCI to relax his punishment as it was an inadvertent mistake.
(With agency inputs)