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CAB back-pedals on age-fudging
THESE ARE FACE-SAVING TACTICS, ALLEGES SNEHASISH GANGULY

Calcutta: After taking a welcome hard line on age-fudging in the Ambar Roy meet, the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) has back-pedalled and almost condoned the unfortunate instances at a working committee meeting on Thursday.

The CAB had decided to suspend 13 coaching centres and 42 under-14 players for one year and two years, respectively, for age-fudging on December 19.

With 12 of the 13 coaching centres appealing against the ban, the CAB working committee decided that the centres will avoid suspension if they shell out a token amount of Rs 25,000. They will also have to declare that they will take complete responsibility if they are found guilty again in future.

If the coaching centres fail to dish out the money and don’t give the letter, the decision to ban them will remain.

“For now, we are not banning the coaching centres. Instead, we are imposing a penalty of Rs 25 000. If they fail to make the payment within three days, then the ban stays,” CAB joint secretary Subir Ganguly said.

“The coaching centres will also have to declare that they will have to take responsibility if such instances are repeated. If the coaching centres are found guilty in future, they will be banned for 10 years. The players, on the other hand, will be suspended for life,” he added.

Samar Paul, the cricket committee chairman, informed that PC Ghosal CCC was the only coaching centre that didn’t appeal. “We didn’t receive any appeal from PC Ghosal CCC… So their ban remains.”

While 12 of the 13 coaching centres will go scot-free by paying the nominal fine, the youngsters will have to bear the brunt. Very often some of these players are made to take the field at the insistence of the coaching centres. The CAB’s U-turn certainly doesn’t send out the right signals to those involved.

Nobody is willing to go on record but the buzz is that the CAB acted under pressure once Sourav Ganguly’s Videocon Centre for Excellence was among the centres that were suspended. Sourav, though, is not involved with the day-to-day running of the coaching centre.

Asked why CAB backtracked from their earlier decision and took a lenient approach, treasurer Biswarup Dey said: “The decision had its merits and demerits ... We discussed it thoroughly. The fact that it was the first time that such a menace had happened influenced us...”

The clubs had mixed feelings about the decision. While Sambaran Banerjee of Mainland Sambaran Cricket Academy welcomed the move, Snehasish Ganguly of Videocon Centre for Excellence ridiculed CAB.

Banerjee said that the clubs should learn a lesson from this episode. “It is a good decision… Banning a club is not the solution. It was not helping Bengal cricket at all. If some players hide their age and play, they should be punished. The others should not take the blame. They have every right to play. The coaching centres should learn a lesson from this episode,” said Banerjee.

Snehasish, on the other hand, said the move is a face-saving tactic for the CAB.

“The decision is absolutely rubbish. First they impose a ban and, three weeks later, they suddenly waive off the ban and impose a penalty. It doesn’t portray a good picture. These are face-saving tactics.

“When the CAB sent us the letter intimating us about the one-year ban, I wrote saying that CAB had approved the team list. I think the other clubs have also sent a letter on these lines. That’s why they have backtracked.”

He also pointed out that CAB should provide guidelines to the clubs in order to stem the rot.

“If they want a declaration that the clubs will take complete responsibility if further instances of age-fudging happen, then they should also give us some guidelines on how to prevent the players from fudging their age. I think the yardstick must be the same,” remarked Snehasish.