New Delhi: As Cricket’s biggest tournament, the ODI World Cup is underway in India, the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) is leaving no stone unturned to make the tournament a huge success rolling out a red carpet for players who have come from all across the globe, however, a group of domestic cricketers have been forced out of the field for no fault of theirs, right under its nose, a news report in New Indian Express has claimed.
Ironically enough, only a few days ago the International Olympic Committee during its session in Mumbai agreed to include cricket in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics ensuring its return to the biggest sporting extravaganza since 1900.
The cricketers, who joined the Indian Army (IA) to play for the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) in the domestic tournaments before making it to the national team, seemed to have been left in the lurch mid-way with their employer deciding to revise the sports policy from this financial year. The revision resulted in the closure of a few nodes including Cricket.
The Services team comprised cricketers from three armed forces — Army, Navy and Air Force – in the past. They are competing in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy and are scheduled to take on Odisha in their fourth match on Saturday but the new sports policy meant Indian Army cricketers are not in the team. Unable to pursue their profession in the Army, a few cricketers have even decided to quit the force so that they can represent some other state.
“None of the Indian Army cricketers are representing Services in the T20 tournament. We have been reverted to our parent units. The existing situation has also made a few cricketers look for another option even if it means tendering resignation,” one of the affected cricketers told The New Indian Express.
According to the Indian Army Sports Policy 2023, the review has focussed on energising the sports ecosystem in the IA up to the ‘Inter-Services’ level while devising a separate system for podium finish at the international level through recruitment of proven talent as direct entry havildar and naib subedar. The key focus areas included disciplines having the potential to produce podium finishes at national, and international levels and meet the key result areas of the Mission Olympic Programme of the IA.
It also focuses on the reversion of players and special staff from regimental centres to field units and the closure of all non-performing sports disciplines and their nodes. The nodes that are closed include cycle, rugby, cricket, water polo, gymnastics, golf, tennis and squash.
The Indian Army used to field two teams in the Inter-Services Championships — Red and Green. However, as per the revised policy, the standing Green team will be retained only in athletics, boxing, wrestling and weightlifting. The policy says green teams of other 16 fields will converge 45 days prior to the Inter-Services Championships and after the termination of the competition, the teams will be dissolved and manpower will be reverted to units.