Edulji, Rangaswamy join selectors in questioning support staff appointments

Cricket

Former India women captains Diana Edulji and Shanta Rangaswamy have pulled up the BCCI management over the appointments of ad-hoc assistant coaches for the Indian women’s team, which they point out were done without the consent of the women’s selection committee.

On Friday both women sent separate e-mails to BCCI chief executive officer Rahul Johri objecting to the process involved to appoint the support staff. While Edulji called the process to appoint the support staff as a “sham”, Rangaswamy questioned why there were no women being appointed.

Edulji is part of the committee of administrators (CoA), which is the supervisory authority of the board till a fresh elected administration takes charge. Rangaswamy will be part of that new administration after being elected as one of the two representatives from the Indian Cricketers Association to sit on Apex Council.

The development comes a day after the women’s selection committee sent an email on Thursday to BCCI chief executive officer Rahul Johri asking why the five-women panel was not consulted before Narendra Hirwani was appointed the bowling coach and T Dilip as fielding coach for India’s forthcoming tour of West Indies.

The Caribbean trip comprises 3 ODIs followed by 5 T20s between November 1 and 20. The head coach of the team is former India opening batsman WV Raman, who was shortlisted by an ad-hoc cricket advisory committee that incidentally featured Rangaswamy.

According to the Indian Express, the email to Johri was sent by Hemalata Kala, the chairman of the senior women’s selection committee, and was signed by four other selectors comprising Sudha Shah, Anjali Pendharkar, Shashi Gupta and Lopamudra Banerjee. Kala and her colleagues wanted to know why they were not consulted before the BCCI management finalised the support staff including the appointment of a trainer, as well as renewing the contract of the physiotherapist.

Incidentally, the selectors were asked by the BCCI management to conduct interviews today for the post of the video analyst that would travel for the West Indies series. However, in her email to Johri, Edulji pointed out Pushkar Sawant, who works as an analyst at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) had already been booked on the flight to the Caribbean and that move because he was chosen by Saba Karim, BCCI’s general manager of cricket.

“I am shocked reading the article quoting the email from Women Selectors to you regarding the sham process being followed for selection of the video analyst,” Edjulji said in her e-mail, seen by ESPNcricinfo. “It is even more worrisome that the person Mr Pushkar Sawant, wanted by Saba and NCA is already booked on the flight to West Indies. The whole process looks like an eyewash.”

Although Johri is top of the BCCI management tree, women’s cricket falls under the purview of Karim, former India wicketkeeper and also a national men’s selector. It is understood that on October 1, the coaching and support staff appointment for women’s team was discussed at the meeting of the committee of administrators (CoA) along with Karim and Johri. Also present at the meeting was former India captain Rahul Dravid, who is director of cricket at the NCA.

According to one of the officials present at the meeting, Dravid agreed with the BCCI management viewpoint that ad-hoc assistant coaches for the women’s team was fine as they could be picked based on the conditions. However, Edulji argued that the BCCI rules dictate that only the selection committee could appoint any support staff. It is believed Dravid said then that process should be followed.

Edulji noted that Karim had defied “repeated instructions” because he wanted to “place” people in positions without “due process.” Edulji called Karim’s actions amounted to “insubordination” and said that rules had to be followed. If not, Johri was equally “culpable” she pointed out. “This is the National Indian Team that is travelling and such shabby treatment is being doled out to them. I wonder if you would do this to the men’s team.”

Edulji also told Johri she had received the email Rangaswamy had sent him overnight saying “established practices” concerning coaching and support staff appointment were being bypassed “deliberately by the powers that be” to “accommodate” the people they had shortlisted.

Rangaswamy told ESPNcricnfo that she was forced to write that email after she had a word with Kala on Thursday. “The selectors were not even aware of the appointments,” Rangaswamy said. “It seems they did it purposely to accommodate person(s) of someone’s choice.”

Rangaswamy said she also wanted to understand the policy of BCCI appointing men to take lead coaching roles of various women’s teams. “Are they averse to women in coaching? As far as possible they must encourage the women (coaches) with the women’s team. If you don’t have sufficient women capable of handling, but when they are equipped and willing why are we not giving them the opportunities.”

Rangaswamy presented two examples of women coaches leading India successfully. In 2005 Sudha Shah, who is on the senior women’s selection panel currently, was the head coach when India finished runner-up at the ODI World Cup. Then former India batsman Purnima Rau was the head coach when the Indian women won the one-off Tests in England (in July) and then at home in November against South Africa. Rau was also in charge when India beat New Zealand to win the ODI series at home in 2015.

Rangaswamy made it clear that she had nothing personal against any individual in the BCCI. She explained the same when Karim and Johri spoke to her today assuring her that the process set in the BCCI constitution will be followed.

Johri was not available for a comment, but it is understood that the management wanted qualified and best hands to oversee the Indian women teams. One official said that as much he agrees with the point that women coaches need to be given exposure, one could just not blindly allow former women players to take key jobs without due consideration.

Rangaswamy said that players like Neetu David and Nooshin al Kadeer, who had enough experience and pedigree could be part of the system and given some coaching roles including at the NCA. “Let them train under Raman or at the NCA zonal camps.”

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