Former India Test batsman Ashok Malhotra fired a fresh salvo at the Indian Cricket Players' Association on Monday, contending that its "much-vaunted" insurance scheme for first class cricketers is useless, as they are already covered under similar plans introduced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
"Take for instance my case. I'm insured by both, the BCCI and Cricket Association of Bengal. So, how can I benefit from a fresh scheme? After all, a person can avail of only one such scheme," Malhotra, a coach with the eastern zone of the National Cricket Academy," said.
The former middle order batsman also went hammer and tongs at Ravi Shastri, who had reportedly launched a verbal assault on him for "questioning the credibility of people like ICPA president Tiger Pataudi, Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar".
Shastri had reportedly said recently that "his (Malhotra's) singing is music to the ears of the hierarchy of the BCCI. He was made coach of the India 'A' team and Indian team in Dhaka in the absence of John Wright... . His continued singing makes me worried for John, who might be replaced in the middle of his tenure".
Claiming that 'people' like Shastri and Arun Lal (ICPA vice-president) had never done anything for cricketers, Malhotra said, "The former was already behaving like a dictator, with the ICPA only a few months old. I feel sorry for cricketers who have reposed faith in such people."
He said he was never against the ICPA, but only raised some pertinent queries about the Association of Indian Cricketers, that was formed in 1989, but now lay defunct.
"I opened a pandora's box by enquiring about the Rs 15 lakh [1.5 million] in AIC's account, which is now untraceable. I also asked about the list of 350 members who were members of the earlier body," he said, and claimed that Arun Lal, who was AIC secretary, had not cared to reply to his letters.
Joining issue with Shastri, Malhotra said he has "deep respect" for Ganguly, Tendulkar and Pataudi. "But I was shocked when both Shastri and Arun contradicted Tiger when the latter said that the ICPA would not get involved in the contract dispute," he said.
Malhotra asserted that he became coach of the India 'A' and, later, the senior national squad "in his own right".
"I'm one of the five 3-level coaches in India. I have also played a considerable amount of Test and first class cricket," he said, and alleged that he had been eased out of a television commentary assignment because of his stand on the ICPA.
"Only because I have been consistently raising these issues I was eased out of a lucrative television commentary assignment," he claimed.
"Do these people (Lal) and Shastri have time for ICPA? Or will they involve themselves with the association's work only during a break from television commitments?" he asked.
He, however, expressed total agreement with legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev's opinion that instead of forming a new union, efforts should have been made to revive the AIC.
"Kapil Dev is a knowledgeable man on this issue, as he was the president of the AIC. I am glad that he has said just what I have been saying for long," Malhotra said.