Five pills for cricket – Will Jagmohan Dalmiya play old doctor with new medicine for BCCI?
There is an old adage about the fox that consumed the bread even as two monkeys fought over it. The unopposed election of Jagmohan Dalmiya serves to remind us that cricket administration in India shall remain muddled in similar political hues for the foreseeable future. The man from Bengal is happily padding up for a second innings, benefiting from the bruising battle of egos between N Srinivasan and Sharad Pawar.
The space around cricket is filled with a fetid concoction of gases that continue to suffocate and strangle the spirit of the game. Nepotism and narcissist deeds have coloured cricket in shades that even the darkest night might find difficult to match.
Despite the best intentions of the judiciary, the game itself is conducted by the BCCI in a well-practiced bubble of indifference that it has built itself. The body corporate that runs the game in India, without license, appropriates to itself power without responsibility.
BCCI is more concerned about control than cricket or the cricketer
Drawing from a reservoir of unimaginable wealth and a bloating ego, the body that is meant to foster cricket has turned into a cruel ring master. The BCCI is clearly more interested in protecting the fiefdom than it is concerned about the game or the athlete.
Over the last three years, Dalmiya has been cultivating the ground for his rehabilitation at the helm of cricket. Since being defeated by Sharad Pawar in 2005, the man from Alipore had been relegated to the sidelines. At times, it appeared that he did not even have influence within Bengal.
Things have changed significantly though in the past few years, ever since he was conveniently exonerated in 2010 from the embezzlement case. Dalmiya even served briefly as an interim BCCI boss in 2013, but his life came full circle this week with his re-election to the chair.
As political as it is, cricket administration in India is weakened by a lack of choice as evident from the unopposed selection of Dalmiya. It is a pity that even under tenuous circumstances, the BCCI and its inhabitants have little choice but to go visiting an old doctor.
A makeover for Indian cricket is the need of the hour
Spin doctors would like you to believe that Dalmiya could indeed turn a fresh leaf, but that is like hoping to see a quack cure the terminally ill. Cricket in India needs an upheaval, nothing less would do.
It is naïve to expect that the very men that have driven the BCCI down a road of commercial excess can indeed clean up their act and the game. These are men, deeply entrenched into a complex web of favour driven related party transactions.
But now more than ever cricket in India needs a few white feathers to cleanse the dirt that stains every warp and weft that clothes it. The question is if the old dispensation can turn a leaf and embrace the game with love rather than lust.
Going by the recent past, the heady power that comes with controlling cricket in India is an irresistible potion for self-indulgence. The men at the helm now will need to resist the temptations and raise to the challenge of guarding the famed spirit of cricket.
India is an undisputed emperor in the realm of cricket, with everyone else playing wilful subjects, happy or otherwise. It is time that the administration in India deals with the responsibility that comes with such power, without behaving like a drunk delinquent.
Every cloud has a silver lining and perhaps there is some silver to look out for in the election of Dalmiya. The businessman from Bengal is known to offer a vision for the game, a grand dream that could help move cricket forward in India and beyond.
So what are the five things that Dalmiya could do for cricket:
1. Wash the stained IPL linen
One can only hope that the vision also includes a blueprint for the redemption of an immensely successful, yet darkly-tainted Indian Premier League. While it is obvious that fans love the annual summer festival, they are also vexed by the nefarious threads that envelope the circus.
2. Strengthen domestic cricket
The flood of international cricket is threatening the very existence of domestic competition. Yet, it is domestic cricket that lays the foundation for a sustained future. It is imperative for the administration to identify means and methods to keep the circuit alive.
On the one hand, we need to find ways to encourage participation of players when not on national duty and we need to open the gates for people to attend these matches without worrying about paying for the tickets. It is a far better option than to have players perform to empty galleries.
3. Rationalise the future tours program (FTP)
The FTP is an important ingredient in managing international cricket. As it stands now, the schedule seems to be governed more by commercial considerations than by a need for fair distribution of games. India needs to play a leadership role in correcting the anomaly before it is too late. We shall not serve the game well if we keep side-lining teams.
4. Need for transparency
There is no need to underline the need for transparency. Indian cricket suffers from a dark shade of opaque that surrounds the operations of the most powerful sports body in the country. It is a travesty that one of the wealthiest sports entities on the planet is run without the least accountability to its various stakeholders
5. Improve the quality of wickets
Indian cricket will be served well if the board can pay attention to the quality of wickets. It is an age old problem that plagues our domestic cricket. The grounds have turned increasingly hostile to the bowlers, almost relegating them toward extinction. Bowlers have become props to monotonous displays of fair weather batting. It is time to create an even ground for battle between bat and ball or continue watching helplessly as the Indian team suffers insulting defeats in overseas conditions.