New Delhi: India`s squash players at the Commonwealth Games are a "clueless" lot right now in the absence of long-time national coach Cyrus Poncha, who has been inexplicably excluded from the touring squad to Glasgow.
Poncha, who has been the national coach for more than a decade and was part of the side which went to Asian Team Championships last month, did not travel with the nine-member squad that left for Glasgow on Friday. The squash competition starts on Thursday.
The 2005 Dronacharya awardee was at pains to explain his exclusion.
"I don`t know what has happened. I have no comment to make. All I can say is that I am disappointed at not being with the team," Poncha told PTI from Chennai.
Asked whether he could join the players in Glasgow later in the competition, Poncha said "I don`t know if I will be going later. Time will tell."
Foreign coach Subramanian Singaraveloo of Malaysia and female coach Bhuvneshwari Kumari are the support staff present in Glasgow besides physiotherapist Graeme Everard.
The players are bearing the brunt of the suspense surrounding Poncha`s absence.
"It really would have been great to have Cyrus around. We have spent a lot of time with him and share a good rapport. We are missing him here," said a player from Glasgow.
Another player said Poncha should have travelled with the team as he is the national coach.
"We don`t know why he stayed back but the national coach has to be with the team. There is a lot of administrative work at multi-sporting events, something he has experience of while being there at the last Commonwealth Games (Delhi) as well as the last two editions of the Asian Games (Doha and Guangzhou).
The player added: "On the technical front, we guys can help each other as we are alone on the professional tour anyway. But here, we are playing for our country and he could have given us moral support. I hope he makes it here eventually."
Srivatsan Subramaniam, secretary general at the Squash Rackets Federation of India, said there is a possibility of Poncha going to Glasgow at the federation`s cost.
"He would be going later in the competition at cost to the federation and not at cost to the government," said Subramaniam.
The team, led by Saurav Ghosal and Dipika Pallikal, has a good chance of ending India`s medal drought at the Commonwealth Games. The sport was introduced in the Games programme in 1998.