Calcutta: The Indian Cricket Players’ Association (ICPA) has made its first move towards ensuring the “security of all Test cricketers, past and present, and all current first-class cricketers”.
It was announced Thursday that the association, together with the Medicare Service Club and National Insurance Co. Ltd, will provide free-of-cost medical insurance to the players.
The ICPA vice-president Arun Lal, along with two of the founder members — Ravi Shastri and Sourav Ganguly — were present during the announcement at a city hotel.
Also present were past and present internationals Syed Saba Karim, Sanjay Bangar, Shiv Sundar Das and Amay Khurasia. While Bangar and Khurasia are representing Tollygunge Agragami in the ongoing P. Sen Trophy, Das will leave for England on Friday to play in the Liverpool league.
Lal said that other than the Test and first-class cricketers, those who have represented India in ODIs will also come under the scheme.
“The plan will cover the entire family, that is, the player himself, his wife, children, dependent parents for an amount of Rs 3.5 lakh per year including a cover of up to Rs 50,000 for maternity,” Lal added.
The plan, apart from settling all claims, envisages free-of-cost service in 402 top hospitals in 46 cities across the country. “The members need not pay, as Medicare TPA Services and the insurance company will settle the dues directly with the empanelled hospital,” Lal informed.
“The ICPA is only in its infancy and we are planning to provide similar cover for all former first-class cricketers as well,” Lal added.
Sourav also felt that “the first-class players deserve much more than they get” and this move by the ICPA is a step in the right direction. “I’ve seen players go through really difficult phases following injuries, and this scheme will surely be a big help,” the current India captain said.
Asked whether the ICPA will approach the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for affiliation, Shastri replied: “I don’t know what is meant by affiliation. And I should make it clear that affiliation hardly matters.”
He also took a dig at the BCCI, saying: “Nothing really has been done for the security of the players. It hasn’t happened before, therefore, we should realise not much had been done,” the former India captain said.
He also felt that security can do wonders for a cricketer and the scheme will really be a precautionary blanket for them.
“Moreover, with two of India’s best captains (Sourav and Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi) standing by the organisation, ICPA’s credibility will never be in doubt,” Shastri added.
Lal, meanwhile, added the ICPA network will become stronger with the main office at New Delhi getting connected to regional offices in the near future. “We are also trying to go on-line with the aid of Anil Kumble’s company.”
When asked whether the ICPA will involve themselves in the ongoing contract row, Lal said: “We will not get involved in matters of litigation. But we represent our members and will play the facilitator’s role in clearing the crisis.”
Sourav, however, didn’t comment whether India should be playing against Pakistan. “This is a government decision and we will have to go by it,” the captain said.
Meanwhile, former international Ashok Malhotra who has always been critical of the ICPA, said Thursday’s move is nothing but an “eyewash and is only taking the focus away from the right cause”.
Malhotra, not known to be in best of terms with Lal, said he hasn’t been able to resume procedures of the earlier association which didn’t last long after being launched in the early Nineties, because Lal is not giving the papers back.
He added the earlier association had 350 registered members and Rs 15 lakh is being wasted in the bank.
“It’s been some time since the ICPA was formed, and I bet, nothing constructive has come up,” an angry Malhotra said after a day’s workout with the Zonal Cricket Academy boys at the Eden Gardens.