Indian cricket team's strength and conditioning coach Shankar Basu's role in the appointment of his protege Soham Desai as one of the new trainers of the National Cricket Academy has come under the scanner with allegations of 'conflict of interest' against the former. There were allegations that Desai was earlier associated with Basu's commercial venture.
In fact, during a sub-committee meeting of the NCA in the capital on Friday, some of the members asked uncomfortable questions to GM (Game Development) MV Sridhar about the process of Desai's appointment as he has been associated with Basu's personal fitness centre 'Primal Patterns'.
Desai, who has earlier worked with Gujarat Ranji team, recently passed an NCA trainers' examination, the question paper for which was apparently set by Basu.
There are questions being raised as to whether Desai's appointment falls in the 'Conflict of Interest' category or not.
It was learnt that one of the committee members today asked Sridhar about Desai's appointment.
"Sridhar was asked specifically that whether Desai is related to Basu's personal gym. Sridhar replied that the candidate stood second in the exam that was conducted by the BCCI. To this treasurer, Aniruddh Chaudhary asked a pointed question: 'Who set the papers for the trainers' exam'? Sridhar answered: 'It was Basu, who set the question paper'," a committee member told PTI on condition of anonymity.
Basu, who is in Chennai with the Indian team, was unavailable for comments. But, when Desai was contacted about his role in Basu's personal commercial venture, he got defensive.
"I will not be able to comment as I am contracted with the BCCI. Why don't you ask Dr Sridhar?" Desai said.
Sridhar, on his part, said that due diligence was followed in Desai's appointment.
"The boy came second in the exam and that's why he got the job. I don't think there is any conflict of interest," Sridhar said when asked about Desai appointment.
CEO Rahul Johri said that he "will look into the matter".
The Committee of Administrators (COA) has been very strict about the slightest of hint with regards to Conflict of Interest.
"The pattern is very interesting. The man who sets the question paper is the Team India trainer. And one of the candidates who topped the exam worked in his personal gym. Now, if this is not Conflict of Interest, then what is. Hopefully, COA will take note of this," a senior BCCI office-bearer said.
Also, there are questions being asked about Desai's apparent inexperience as he has hardly worked extensively with any of the first-class teams in recent years.
There are some of the NCA accredited trainers, who have been associated with first-class teams for a number of years but have not been considered for plum NCA postings.
Being an NCA trainer means that he is eligible to go on overseas tours like India A, India U-19, Indian women's team.
There are Nishanto Bordoloi (Delhi), Rohit Wagh (UP), Pratik Kadam (Mumbai), Rakesh Goel (Baroda) and Sanjib Das (Bengal), all of whom have worked for a considerable amount of time with first-class teams.
Meanwhile, acting secretary Amitabh Chaudhary was grilled by some of the office-bearers as to why NCA chairman Niranjan Shah was not called for the meeting.
Chaudhary, it was learnt, in his defence said that he had intimated the BCCI office to inform Shah but some of the officials in the meeting did not find the answer convincing.
Meanwhile, the BCCI is also planning to appoint headhunting agency Korn Ferry to search for a director of National Cricket Academy (NCA).