New Delhi: While the Mumbai and Kerala Cricket Associations have already made their displeasure known at the scheduling of the Vijay Merchant Trophy (U-16) for the upcoming 2018-19 season, they aren’t alone. CricketNext has learnt that almost all state associations are in a fix on how to go about preparing for the age-group tournament in just over two months. The tournament, which generally starts in the first week of December, has been scheduled to start on October 3 this year as per the fixture of the domestic season unveiled recently.
The BCCI age verification programme sent by General Manager Cricket Operations Saba Karim to the state associations on July 16, in possession of CricketNext, has made matters worse for the associations. The documents says that all state associations will contact the radiology centre in its home venue to undertake a digital X-ray of the left wrist and hand of players in the second week of September. And as per rules, players need to be registered 15 days before the start of the tournament.
Speaking to CricketNext, a senior state association official said that this scenario is a race against time for them, complaining the board was working against its own associations and future India stars.
“Alienating your only stakeholders in execution of all the tournaments organised by you, i.e. your core business is very bad form,” he said. “But this is what the CoA and the professional management of the BCCI have done. This has prevented information from the grassroots from reaching the decision makers and when the decision makers have absolutely no experience of organizing a tournament of this magnitude, there will obviously be issues.”
As per the Age Verification Programme (AVP) module, the radiology centre after conducting the tests on the youngsters will mail the X-ray images directly to the BCCI AVP department. This will be followed by the state associations sending the scanned original birth certificate of the players who have undergone X-ray.
After this, the AVP department will send the X-ray images to two BCCI AVP radiology consultants for the TW3 bone age rating who will analyse and interpret the data. After this they send the reports back to the BCCI AVP department who will then inform the state associations the result and eligibility of the players tested.
The whole process will involve testing 20-25 players from each of the 35 teams that are eligible to play the tournament with over 700 applications being sent to the BCCI AVP department for testing. And all this needs to be done in approximately two weeks as the test must be taken in the second week of September since the tournament starts in the first week of October.
Another state official regretted that this process will mean that if the test finds a player ineligible, he will have no second chance of getting his tests done this season. In such a scenario, he feels that postponement of the tournament is the only way forward.
“The associations are required to finish the process by the second week of September while they are required to register the players 15 days before the start of the tournament,” he said. “In all the other years, this would be done and the tournament would take place in November/December. Now, even if you take a week for the AVP, it leaves one with only a week for registration and this is in the eventuality that the inter districts get over in time for this. However, there is one other situation that the BCCI provides for but in this context it may prove to be utterly useless and that is the matter of appeal.
“In case a player was held to be ineligible on account of the AVP results and it was felt that there may have been some error, there was sufficient time for second verification to be done for the player concerned but in this timeline there does not seem to be enough time for anything. This is an unfortunate scenario and there seems to be no magic wand to fix the issue in the given timeline and postponement of the schedule for U-16s is the only way forward.”
An official of a third state association said that having the U-16 tournament at the end of the season through the years was for a reason and the ongoing monsoon makes matters worse.
“Every year, it is the U-16s that have been the last age-group to be activated and this is on account of various reasons, including academics. The state associations accordingly plan their inter-districts and other such tournaments and organize their U-16 tournaments at the very last and in turn, the district-units organize their cricket accordingly. Therefore, it is to the chagrin of all those working at the grass-root level that they are struggling to make sense of the scheduling.
“Most of the states are in the grip of the monsoon and though it may not have occurred to the ‘new’ BCCI administrators that cricket is not an indoor sport, the associations are struggling with grounds in the face of the monsoon,” he signed off.
CricketNext tried to get in touch with GM Cricket Operations Karim for a response, but he asked the reporter to get in touch with the media cell as he was in the UK.