‘Tax break is a part of guarantees by the host nation’

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WC Tournament Director Ratnakar Shetty tells Samrat Chakrabarti the government had cleared ICC’s conditions before the bid

Ratnakar Shetty
Photo: Reuters

The media has shown that the World Cup trophy awarded to the Indian team was a replica and not the original cup as being claimed by the ICC. What is the BCCI’s view?
On 10 January, ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat presented Sharad Pawar the ICC World Cup trophy, which was to be presented to the winning team on 2 April. This was in the presence of the media at the Bombay Stock Exchange Hall. The trophy has been in the custody of the BCCI since then and was presented to the winners on 2 April.

The ICC is a cash-rich body. So, why should the BCCI endorse its claim for a tax exemption worth crores from the Government of India?
One of the pre-conditions of the allotment of the World Cup is a number of guarantees to be obtained from the host government. While bidding for the World Cup, the prime minister of India had supported the bid and assured full support to the BCCI in hosting the event. Among the guarantees are income tax exemptions on ICC income, exemption of customs duty for items relating to the World Cup, etc.

After the IPL that begins on 8 April, the Indian team tour the West Indies and England, and also play them at home and then travel to Australia in December. Don’t you think that the players will be unduly taxed by this gruelling schedule?
It is true that the Indian team’s schedule for the next eight months is gruelling. The commitments after the IPL are part of the Future Tours Programme approved by the ICC for bilateral tours.

In that case, what is the BCCI doing to prevent burnouts?
The BCCI is open to players’ taking rest in order to remain fit and fresh.

What steps is the BCCI taking to ensure greater bench strength to meet the requirements of a hectic schedule?
The BCCI is working on the bench strength of the Indian team, and in the past year, a number of new players have been given opportunities and tried out on different tours.

What is your stand on creating different teams for different formats of the game?
We have not planned different teams for different formats of the game as yet.

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is an example of the talent in India’s small towns. What are you doing to promote cricket in places other than the mainstream areas, say in the Northeast?
The BCCI has the best domestic junior cricket structure in the world and the fact that cricketers from smaller towns have made it to the Indian team on sheer talent is proof of that. We have taken special efforts to popularise and develop the game in the Northeastern states by conducting regular coaching camps and age-group tournaments.

How is the BCCI planning to help grassroots cricket in India after the World Cup triumph?
Cricket has a large following in India. All affiliated units of the BCCI have been advised to use the subsidies given to them to purchase land for playgrounds, set up physical fitness centres and indoor cricket academies in their jurisdiction. The board has also purchased land to set up the National Cricket Academy at its own premises at Bengaluru. We have also set up a National Academy for Umpires at Nagpur.

Samrat Chakrabarti is Senior Correspondent with Tehelka
[email protected]

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