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BCCI needs a Cricket Operations Officer
by Sunil Gavaskar
Nov 02, 2007
The confusion regarding the two-day camp for the Indian team before the One-day series against Pakistan underscores the necessity of the BCCI having a Cricket Operations person who can co-ordinate such matters and ensure there are no mishaps that can come in the way of preparation for a series. Despite knowing that the one-day series starts in Guwahati, the plan to have a preparatory camp seems to have been made only a few days back.

That put the Cricket Association of Bengal in a tight spot as they had a Ranji match schedule at the Eden Gardens, and so tried to arrange the nets at the premier club in Kolkata, the Cricket and Football Club. The huge media interest in such sessions meant that the club would not be able to handle it and so that was ruled out and Eden Gardens picked as the venue with the Ranji players shunted away elsewhere. After all, the national team has to get preference over the mere Ranji Trophy, isn’t it?

The moot question though is why is the team not traveling to Guwahati earlier and having its camp there? What better way to acclimatize to the conditions than being there a few days earlier, but perhaps Guwahati is not as glamorous as Kolkata, and probably it does not have the perks that a metro offers. Whatever the reason, the weather being uncertain, Mumbai was also being looked at as an alternate venue for the camp, which again was strange, because the Mumbai weather is nowhere near that of Guwahati at this time of the year, and so acclimatization was out of the question. Luckily, the camp was not held in Mumbai, because the unseasonal rains would have made a mockery of it with the practice pitches being wet.

What all this shows is that unless there is delegation of work and specific job responsibilities given, Indian cricket will continue to work in a knee-jerk reaction manner than in a proper, planned manner. The Cricket Operations person could be given the task of making sure that all this is done in a proper way, so that the players know from before what their schedule is going to be. As soon as the venues and dates are allocated by the BCCI, the Cricket Operations person, along with the coach or Cricket Manager, could look at how the team reaches there and then chalk out schedules not only for the Indian team, but also the visiting team for practice sessions. There is a travel coordinator who travels with the team, and his advice should be taken on not only the quickest and most convenient flight connection, but also with a view to ensure that the players get adequate rest. For, far too often have Indian teams taken flights at unearthly hours when other better times are available, and while one can understand if the team has to travel by a specific airline because of sponsorship commitments, if that is not the case then only a flight that ensures good rest for the players should be taken. It is extremely hard for the players to wake up early and catch a flight after playing in a day-night game the previous day. It’s a good three to four hours by the time the adrenalin stops pumping after a game and while that means that players in a day game will be able to sleep by 10 pm, in a day-night game, it means it will probably be around 2 in the morning when the players will be able to relax and sleep well. So to ask them to wake up early to catch a flight to the next venue is being unfair on them, especially if there are later flights available.

Hopefully for the tour to Australia later on, this has been taken into account as far as the travel schedule is concerned. It is also important that the hotels be closer to the ground and have good gym facilities for the players to work out. When the Australians send an advance team to do so reconnaissance work, it is precisely to see that certain parameters for the players are available, and if not, then to try and make them available. It is attention to detail that has ensured that all that the players have to do is to focus on their game and preparing for it and not to worry about anything else. Not only do the officials of Cricket Australia travel a few months before to the country they are due to tour, but a representative of the Players Association also goes along to ensure that the players’ interests are kept paramount. So one hardly hears of any complaints about accommodation or facilities at the hotel they are staying in, since they have already been vetted earlier by a reconnaissance team.

During the just concluded series against Australia, there were some scenes that were witnessed in the Indian camp about non-availability of suites for the Cricket Manager at some hotels, and all this distraction can be avoided if the BCCI has a person whose responsibility would be to see that everything is smooth for the entire team and it can focus on its game and nothing else. Of course, the person may not be able to do it on his own. Give him some assistants, but make sure that the situation like what we saw does not arise, where nobody is sure what is happening and where. Professionalism off the field will make a huge contribution to professionalism on the field.

 
More Views by Sunil Gavaskar
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