By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
New Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS) The newly formed Indian Railways Cricketers’ Association (IRCA) — the first of its kind in the history Indian Railways — is only for the welfare of retired railways players who, in the past, did not earn as much as the present generation, and the association will always be part of the railways family, IRCA secretary Sampathkumar Srinivasan said.
A former Railways pacer, Srinivasan stressed that he and IRCA president Kishore Kumar Sharma, a former fast bowler, would have discussed with officials of the Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) before their December 7 announcement of formation the association, but for Covid pandemic and the farmers’ agitation on Delhi’s borders.
“We are 100 per cent sure, we will not go against RSPB. We are getting everything from the Railways — our bread and butter and pension etc — so we’ll not go against them. We have formed this association to take care of our former cricketers — like, former Railways coaches, selectors. We are not doing anything against the Railways or the RSPB; IRCA is only a welfare association for retired players,” Srinivasan told IANS.
The IRCA has obtained a certificate of registration from the Tamil Nadu Societies registration Act, 1975 (Tamil Nadu Act 27 of 1975), Chennai, under Section 10, on December 1. At present, it has only seven members, but it plans to go on a membership drive in the near future.
In a letter sent to the RSPB secretary Prem Chand Lochab recently, IRCA president Sharma informed him about the formation of the association, and also requested him to nominate Srinivasan to attend the general body meetings of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). A BCCI Annual General Meeting (AGM) is coming up on December 24.
Srinivasan said that Railways coaches and other support staff of the various teams do not receive anything extra for their work, except TA/DA, unlike the other state cricket associations that pay handsome amounts to members of coaching/support staff.
“If RSPB is not able to pay the selectors and coaches etc, let the BCCI pay them directly, like they are paying personnel of north-eastern states, Pondicheery and Uttarakhand etc. Only the Railways players get money from the BCCI for the Ranji Trophy,” he pointed out.
“This is a golden opportunity for us because the BCCI is directly asking players to represent the Railways. So, we can directly ask, probably, the president or secretary of the BCCI to also grant monthly gratis and insurance cover to former Railways players,” he said.
At present, the maximum medical reimbursement a player, who has played at least 10 Ranji matches, can receive is Rs.5 lakh.
“We want it doubled, to Rs.10 lakh. Besides, we will try and get monthly gratis for players in two slabs: those who have played one to nine Ranji Trophy matches, and those who have played 10 to 24 matches. This way, former cricketers would benefit. At present, the BCCI gives monthly gratis to those who have played 25 or more Ranji matches.
On Monday, RSPB secretary Prem Chand Lochab had told IANS that recognising IRCA was not possible. “Our view has been represented in the Supreme Court [in the BCCI reforms case] and our viewpoint is that we don’t have any such mechanism [to let players form associations]. So, the stand that we have taken in the Supreme Court remains the stand of the department. We have no information about the IRCA; Railways have no concern with it,” Lochab told IANS.
Srinivasan said that the IRCA was formed as per the bylaws of the new BCCI constitution, written by the Lodha Committee and approved by the Supreme Court. He pointed out that the constitution says that only a representative of former players’ association from Railways – besides, the Services Sports Control Board and the Association of Indian Universities — should attend BCCI meetings.
Now, says Srinivasan, IRCA office-bearers would try and meet RSPB officials to put across their viewpoint.
“It was due to the coronavirus problem IRCA president KK Sharma and I were not able to go to Delhi, otherwise we would have met RSPB and definitely discussed this before starting this. We have to approach and take appointment and meet them. Once this farmers’ agitation and the Covid pandemic gets a little better, KK Sharma and I will be in Delhi to meet the president and secretary of the RSPB. We will definitely discuss the issues with them because we all are in the same family, and have to help each other,” he said.