CHENNAI: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has finalised plans to build six indoor practice facilities in the North East region. While work for the project has already begun, the construction work has been delayed by the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. With the situation improving in the region, the BCCI is looking to restart work by August. They aim to complete it by November or December.
The facilities will be of great importance to the region which sees rain almost throughout the year. The state units, which became regular members of the BCCI thanks to the Lodha panel recommendations, have long advocated for need to have indoor practice facilities.
Though they were inducted into the domestic fold, the gulf in terms of quality and competition is huge between the region and the rest of India. With the region lacking in infrastructure and resources, the BCCI has put focus there. Six states from the region – Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Sikkim – and Uttarakhand, Bihar and Pondicherry have been brought under the direct lens of the office-bearers. President Sourav Ganguly, secretary Jay Shah and treasurer Arun Dhumal have been allotted three states each with a task force in place to oversee the development in the region.
Part of the plan now is to build practice facilities in Itanagar, Dimapur, Shillong, Imphal, Aizawl and Gangtok. The facilities will have three-four pitches, bowling machines, a swimming pool and a gym. "These facilities are much needed because our preparations are often hit by bad weather. Moreover, in the current situation, we can't send players to other states for practice. So having one in each of the states will benefit the players. Each one will cost approximately Rs 6 crores minimum and in some, the cost will go up because it is bigger than the rest," said Naba Bhattacharjee, who is part of the task force for the region.
At present, the region is fully dependent on the BCCI for resources. The BCCI has helped them in providing coaches and support staff for the senior side on a season-by-season basis. With none of the coaches present throughout the season, the BCCI has opened the National Cricket Academy doors for a coaching programme. "We need to have local coaches who can build a strong foundation. That is what is needed in the region now. After the states started playing in the Ranji Trophy, a lot of coaches are showing interest. The first batch was supposed to be at NCA this summer, but because of pandemic, it has been delayed. If the local coaches get empowered, then they can help the game grow in the region. Plus, they are available throughout the year," Bhattacharjee said.
One of the ways it can catch up with the rest of India is through having a strong base in the age-group levels. To have professional coaches will undoubtedly help them cover the base. "It is where we need to focus and that is the plan too. Once we get the resources, we can start focussing on development," Bhattacharjee added.