Peeved at directors, ICA head Ashok Malhotra says ‘difficult to work in this space’

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty
| Kolkata |

Published: July 20, 2020 12:32:42 am

Ashok Malhotra is the president of the Indian Cricketers’ Association (ICA). (Express File)

Former India batsman Ashok Malhotra, now president of the Indian Cricketers’ Association (ICA), has said that he is “finding it very difficult to work in this space” as he feels restricted by the four ICA directors. The directors, Malhotra says, have asked him not to make any public statements without discussing issues internally. But he alleges that they have been leaking correspondence with him to the media.

“Sometimes I don’t understand how other board of directors do things. You cannot keep telling me about rules and regulations. I don’t know why stories were planted in the media that I spoke against domestic cricket and Bihar cricket. And on top of that four directors sent me an email, that I cannot go public. The email was leaked in the media,” Malhotra told The Indian Express.

This comes after Malhotra had posted a video, lamenting what he called the BCCI’s lukewarm response to ICA demands. That allegedly didn’t go down well with the four directors — Hitesh Majmudar, V Krishnaswamy, Yajurvindra Singh and Rajesh Nayyar — who, he says, jointly sent an email, asking the president to follow the Companies Act and adhere to the process before making any statement.

“On one side, I’m told ‘you cannot talk to the media’, and then on the other side, you are leaking it to the media. I’m finding it very difficult to work in this space with all of them kind of ganged up.”

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The ICA wants gratis for the former cricketers under its wings, medical insurance, pension for those who played fewer than 25 first-class games, and also for the widows of deceased cricketers. It has also demanded the release of former India all-rounder Manoj Prabhakar’s benevolent fund.

However, according to Malhotra, a major bone of contention for the ICA directors turned out to be the way he spoke on the cricketers’ body having no concern about the Bihar Cricket Association and domestic cricket. Being a cricketers’ body, Malhotra, as per the ICA directors, crossed the line.

In his video, Malhotra said: “The BCCI has lots of things on their agenda like the Bihar Cricket Association; they are talking about domestic cricket… I, as the ICA president or the ICA as a whole, we are not really concerned about it.

“We are more concerned about what we have asked for and the (BCCI) Apex Council’s duty is to deliver.”

Later, Malhotra denied saying anything about domestic cricket. He rather spoke about how he wanted the ICA nominees in the BCCI Apex Council, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy, to be “proactive”.

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In the last two Apex Council meetings, Malhotra said, the ICA demands had been ignored. Some of them weren’t even included in the agenda. He informed that “one of the nominees” spoke to BCCI president Sourav Ganguly outside the meeting, but nothing tangible shaped up. The ICA president himself has spoken to Ganguly. “He (Ganguly) gave me a patient hearing. But nothing concrete has materialised as yet,” Malhotra told this paper.

He confirmed that he wouldn’t be stepping down but said that things hadn’t been hunky-dory in the ICA for the last few months. “It’s been going on for some time now. I didn’t want to wash dirty linen in public. For me, the last straw has been the leakage of the email,” he said.

Although the ICA is an independent body set up as per the Lodha Committee recommendations, it relies on BCCI funding. And many in the cricketers’ body, this paper understands, feel that putting pressure on the Board during the Covid-19 outbreak was uncalled for.

Director’s response

ICA director Majmudar said he wanted the issue (Malhotra’s ire) to be settled internally. According to him, the email was sent to ensure that the right process was followed.

“We don’t want to take on anybody. We want to work for the benefit of cricketers, but we need to follow the process,” Majmudar said.

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