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Last Updated: May 17, 2007 - 8:46:52 AM
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BCCI's Rs.15-mn World Cup offer for its officials
Apr 5, 2007 - 12:09:10 PM
Dalmiya commissioned this book as part of the board's platinum jubilee a few years ago.

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[RxPG] Mumbai, April 5 - Indian cricket board members from its 30 affiliated associations have been given an unprecedented offer - an absolute free trip to the West Indies, worth a whopping Rs.15 million -, to watch the ongoing World Cup and stay on cruise ships.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India - will bear the entire cost, at the rate of Rs.500,000 per unit. Never before has BCCI offered free trips during a World Cup, said a veteran BCCI official.

'I have been associated with the board for more than 25 years and I don't remember BCCI ever coming out with a scheme like this. It was certainly not there during the 1999 World Cup in England and the 2003 tournament in South Africa,' the official told IANS.

This offer follows some surprise 'gifts' that the BCCI has sent to its affiliated units, a move that has set tongues in the rival group wagging.

In times of national mourning following Team India's disastrous showing at the World Cup - crashing out in the first round - and coach Greg Chappell's resignation, the offer to send officials on a free trip is seen in bad taste.

Besides questioning the move to send officials on a jaunt when the Indian team has been ousted, experts are also asking if this is part of reconciliatory steps by the Sharad Pawar-led BCCI dispensation with the Jagmohan Dalmiya-headed rival group as the benefit of the free trip also extends to the opposition.

'The BCCI has sent to all its affiliated units invitations for the 12-day free trip to the West Indies,' disclosed a top official of a BCCI-affiliated association who got the invite.

'The programme includes stay on cruise ships, hospitality and seats for the two semi-finals and the final in Bridgetown, Barbados, on April 28,' said the official associated with the Dalmiya group.

Pawar lost a bitter, keenly contested battle to the Dalmiya-backed Ranbir Singh Mahendra group for BCCI president's post in 2004 on the casting vote of Dalmiya. But Pawar handed a comprehensive defeat to Mahendra in the 2005 annual election.

Now, those who are affiliated with the Dalmiya group are questioning the timing of the gifts and the offer of a 'free holiday' in the West Indies.

'To tell you the truth, this is nothing but board politics,' said the official candidly.

'While Pawar might stay as president beyond September's BCCI annual meeting as he has one last year left as president, this could well be termed as a reconciliatory move by his group.'

This is not all, the official informed. 'If the affiliated units want to take another person with them also to the West Indies, then it can pay Rs.500,000 for it.'

The official, a well-known Dalmiya supporter, said he was surprised to receive a hefty gift packet. The packets, along with a formal letter listing the contents in the packet, were sent to all 30 BCCI associations.

The most surprising part of the packet, containing six items, were three copies of a book, 'A Social History of Indian Cricket: 22 Yards to Freedom', which lauds Dalmiya's role in Indian cricket.

'I was extremely surprised to receive the book. Ironically, they are giving Dalmiya some free publicity,' he said.

Dalmiya commissioned this book as part of the board's platinum jubilee a few years ago.

The other items in the gift packet included bats bearing signatures of India's World Cup members, a group photograph of the Indian team that went for the World Cup, a silver salver, two Mont Blanc pens and replicas of the 1996 Cup plate.

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