Kochi: The Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) will establish a center of excellence, modeled on the National Cricket Academy, with an objective to identify and train talented youngsters.
The training center, to be set up in Ernakulam, will have all modern facilities meeting international standards.
The youngsters will be under the tutelage of noted coach and former international cricketer Dav Whatmore.
The association has reached an agreement with him for a period of five years, KCA secretary Jayesh George has said.
Whatmore, who took over as the coach of the Kerala cricket team last year, will be retained for the next season, he added.
The training program is envisaged for players in the U-17 category. Around 35 youngsters identified by a scouting panel headed by Whatmore will be enrolled and provided full-time coaching at the residential center. Whatmore will visit the center thrice in a year to provide technical inputs and review the players’ progress.
Former Indian Test player and Kerala Ranji team’s coach Tinu Yohannan will be in charge of the routine training program. BCCI Level 3 coaching certificate holders Biju George and Jayakumar will also be roped in to help out at the academy, Jayesh said.
The concept design of the center, modalities for the training program and the facilities to be put in place would be finalized with inputs from Whatmore. He is currently busy preparing the Kerala senior team for the upcoming Vijay Hazare Trophy.
The KCA has not yet finalized the site for the center. The grounds at the Federal Institute of Science and Technology (FISAT), Angamaly, and the Mar Athanasius College, Kothamangalam, are under consideration.
An expert team led by Whatmore had visited both these sites and held talks with the college authorities.
The center will have net-practice facilities, gymnasium and swimming pool. There are plans to arrange housing facilities for the trainees adjacent to the center. The KCA will take care of their education. Stress would be laid on providing training and coaching with modern equipment including bowling machines.
Grounds at Rajagiri Public School and St Paul’s College, Kalamassery, upgraded by the KCA under a lease agreement, would be used for training.
The KCA has so far established as many as ten academies in different parts of the state. The new center will have select players from these academies as well as those came through the KCA’s Talent Research Development Program. Preparation camps for various age-group teams, including the state senior team, will be conducted at the center.
It was under the guidance of Whatmore that Kerala made history this season by reaching the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy for the first time. The Center of Excellence would be looking to spot talented players at a young age and groom them to bat and bowl for long periods in multi-day matches, a vision envisaged by Whatmore.
Curbs on KCA lifted
The sanction imposed by the Supreme Court barring the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) from releasing funds to the KCA, in connection with issues related to the implementation of the structural reforms framed by the Justice R M Lodha Committee, has been lifted. After a gap of two years, the BCCI has allocated a fund of Rs 16.75 crore to the state body.
After the interim committee appointed by the Supreme Court directed the BCCI to stop funding to state associations till the latter accept the Justice Lodha Committee reforms, office-bearers of the KCA had met the four-member panel of administrators led by former comptroller and auditor general of India Vinod Rai as well as the BCCI chief finance officer and got the income and expenditure statements for the previous years verified.
The association also declared that the Lodha panel's recommendations regarding eligibility criteria and tenure limit for office bearers were complied with.
The decision to freeze financial transactions between the BCCI and state cricket associations had halted all the development activities undertaken by the state body, including the construction of stadiums and other infrastructure development works.