Dubai: Manoj Prabhakar, the controversial Indian allrounder who was banned by the Indian cricket board for five years for his alleged involvement in match-fixing alongwith a few other prominent names, will eventually receive his benevolent found and monthly gratis (equivalent of pension) after a wait of 15 long years.
Confirming this to Gulf News during a telephonic interview, Ashok Malhotra, president of Indian Cricket Association (ICA), said he has been given ‘‘assurance’’ on this by Sourav Ganguly, President of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). ‘‘After his ban ended in 2005, Prabhakar has served as coach for a number of state teams like Delhi, Rajasthan while he was also the bowling coach of the Afghanistan national team. This shows the BCCI had no other misgivings about his involvement with cricket,’’ said Malhotra.
Life had been rather hectic for the 63-year-old Malhotra, a stylish Indian middle order batsman and member of India’s 1985 Benson & Henson World Championship-winning team, ever since he was elected to head the cricketers’ body - formed last year at the behest of the Supreme Court to look after the cricketers’ interests. The association, incidentally, was a part of the recommendations of the erstwhile Justice R.M.Lodha Committee as part of the suggested reforms in Indian cricket.
We need the likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma to join the association for it to improve the lot of cricketers in the country. The greats of the game in our country have not come from above, but have been a product of our cricketing ecosystem only
The ICA has, for a start, managed to raise a corpus of Rs 6.4 million, comprising largely of contributions from their members which include some of the Indian cricketing legends as well as former cricketers staying abroad, to provide financial relief to 36 former first class cricketers - who had been in some kind of financial distress during this period of COVID-19 pandemic.
‘‘We asked for applications from cricketers who have played less than 25 first class matches - as they will not be elgible for the BCCI’s benevolent fund. For us, even if somebody has played one first class match has also served the cause of Indian cricket and some of them are really struggling for survival. The amount which we will be giving out may be modest but it’s a small step in the right direction,’’ Malhotra said.
The ICA has classified the former cricketers into three categories, based on their age-group and current income, and will be paying them a maximum of Rs 100,000 in Category A, Rs 80,000 and Rs 60,000 for B & C, respectively.
‘‘The board of directors of the ICA has really worked hard to raise the amount and I must especially thank Anshuman Gaekwad - who had put in a tremendous effort behind mobilising funds. Several stalwarts of Indian cricket like Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Mohammad Azharuddin, Rahul Dravid came forward with their contributions, while a handful of them who contributed did not want any kind of publicity,’’ Malhotra said.
Looking forward, the feisty Malhotra feels that the cricketers’ body will raise the bar so that they can join the FICA (Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations). ‘‘It’s not good enough to serve the cause of retired cricketers only. We need the likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma to join the association for it to improve the lot of cricketers in the country. The greats of the game in our country have not come from above, but have been a product of our cricketing ecosystem only. We have placed four demands before Ganguly, the first former captain to be the BCCI president, and hope they will be addressed sooner than later,’’ he added.
ICA’s charter of demand
1. Double the purse for pension of former first class cricketers (right now, only .54% of the BCCI’s annual revenue is spent for the pension fund).
2. Amount of Medical Insurance be raised from Rs 500,000 to one million, or have group insurance.
3. Family or dependant of the cricketer should continue to get the pension after his/her death.
4. The elgibility of pension be lowered from 25 first class matches to 10 first class matches.