Shillong, Feb 12: The North East Cricket Development Committee (NECDC) held its third meeting here today with one of the proposals studied being the creation of a ‘North East Premier League’.
The NECDC is a coordinating body of six states from the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI’s) New Area Development Programme (NADP) – Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.
The North East Premier League could start this year with participation of all six NADP states from the region. A broad framework with modalities worked out by professional experts is being considered in order to gain the BCCI’s approval as all such tournaments are possible only with the governing body’s nod.
The meeting was chaired by NECDC co-convener Naba Bhattacharjee.
Those attending decided on a rotation policy and constitution of a joint team for the zonal academy camps for the BCCI’s North East/Bihar zone in the different age categories for both boys and girls, to represent the zone at the all-India level inter-zonal tournament in Bangalore against the other five BCCI national zones.
The meeting also decided to impress upon the BCCI to accelerate infrastructure development without further delay.
A tournament for senior and U-23 women is also proposed within the zone besides an inter-state tournament for those in the North East/Bihar zone in the off season in addition to clinics for umpires, online scorers, video analysts and coaches’ courses in all six states followed by joint course by the National Cricket Academy.
Meghalaya has been at the forefront of pushing the BCCI to pay more attention to developing cricket in the North East and having each state as a separate playing entity rather than clubbing them all together.
Meghalaya won three of five three-day U-16 Vijay Merchant NE/Bihar zone matches last year at home, but just one out of five 50-over U-23 games in Bihar in January.
Last year the BCCI finance committee recommended Rs 50 crore to be spent on developing cricketing infrastructure in the region.
In June 2016 then BCCI president Anurag Thakur was one of three high-profile visitors to Shillong in the space of a few weeks, following former Indian cricketers Venkatesh Prasad and Dilip Vengsarkar. He promised then that the foundation stone for a new indoor facility would be laid within three months and a plan, budget and 12-month timeline be put in place. None of that happened.
Although the Meghalaya Cricket Association had received approval for a stadium and indoor practice facility from the BCCI, the required land is something that the state body has to sort out on its own, which it is finding it difficult to do.
Cricket facilities are desperately needed across Meghalaya. Vengsarkar noted that Shillong has just one cricket ground and, with 200 matches played on it every year, there is “not a blade of grass on the wicket.”
(Photo of the NECDC representatives contributed)