Let's put the 'Cricket' back in BCCI
The People who make up The Board of Control for Cricket in India,
Before introducing myself, I would like to say that I find it quite amusing that the word ‘Control’ comes in your name. I’m sure whoever came up with this must have been quite a visionary. Well, I belong to the category which one of you had once referred to as the ‘undefined’ cricket fans – we are the people who are ignored while distributing tickets to important games; we are the people who risk being lathi-charged just to get one glimpse of the players we idolize; we are the ones who sit long hours in stadiums having improper seats and arrangements of sanitation, but still manage to cheer every run and wicket; we are the people who sit through meaningless commercials wondering what happened to the first ball of the over, and, indeed, the last. It is highly unlikely that you would have even heard of us because we happen to occupy the lowest level of the ‘money-chain’ which has become of cricket.
We are the ones Cricket understands nothing about, despite being the ones who understand only Cricket.
It is often said that an administration is doing a good job if it does not grab the news headlines very often. Yet I am not really bothered about what that the Michael Holdings and Tony Griegs (among a host of others in the cricketing fraternity) have to say while blaming you for everything evil in cricket. Your current ‘monopoly’ in the scheme of things in international cricket has as much to do with the lack of spine in ICC and their respective cricket boards, as it has to do with your financial prowess. After all, as a widely read author had put it, “Evil requires the sanction of the victim”.
But what really hurts me is your lack of concern towards Indian cricket, which should have been your priority. Since there is very little likelihood of a Sangakara-like-figure in India standing up against you, I felt it was my obligation to say a few things.
Almost all former coaches and ex-cricketers have pointed out that India play very few practice games while on international tours. Does it then come as a surprise that India is known to start an away tour poorly? Your promises in this regard have been hollow as Poonam Pandey’s.
You are known to leak like a sieve. It’s a shame when the team manager’s ‘confidential’ reports find their way to the media, or when the media comes to know about a player’s downgraded contract before the player himself. But no measures seem to have been taken to stop this or identify the offenders.
You started the IPL, a forum where ‘Talent meets Opportunities’. No, there is nothing wrong with the quality of cricket on offer. It is just that you have stooped so low in bringing the coverage to us. To put it in a language you would better understand, it is a “Lehmann Brother’s Low” or an “Air India Moment of Disgust”.
A few weeks ago Lalit Modi attacked you for doing to ICL (another platform where talent could have met opportunity) what Obelix did to the Romans, what Sehwag does to the bowlers and what Sidhu does to TRP – for destroying it. Not that this came as a surprise to anyone, but the only reaction we received from you was that it does not fascinate you. “It does not fascinate you? Really?” Did you actually think we were asking your opinion about ‘Angry Birds’?
Mumbai Indians had raised a concern questioning the last minute change in auction rules to suit a particular franchisee during IPL 4. I’ve quit wondering what must have happened behind the scenes because we neither heard from the franchisee nor the IPL OC again on that matter. There were evidences floating around that other teams were given directives not to bid for Andrew Flintoff during IPL 2 so that the same ‘particular franchisee’ could bid for him. The story gradually fell below media radar and faded from public memory. People from all quarters have been questioning N Srinivasan’s potential conflict-of-interest in being part of the IPL Organizing Committee despite being a team owner. As Sharda Ugra had put it, if one representative each from BCCI, IPL OC and team owners were to meet, we could have a situation where Mr Srinivasan is in a room talking all to himself. Why isn’t any action being taken on that front?
A section of the blogosphere has not been entirely comfortable with the regular pulling out by India’s star cricketers from international fixtures. Some have even gone ahead and said that you should have stepped in and used your authority. But there is something else which has somehow gone unnoticed with the masses. In the last 5 years, Dhoni has played a solitary match in Indian domestic cricket (Ranji Trophy/Duleep Trophy/Irani Cup); Yuvraj has played 5; Zaheer has featured in 8; Bhajji, just the 2, while Sehwag has played in 7. In the last 10 years, Sachin has played only 3 domestic matches (Dravid and Laxman who’ve played only 16 and 18 respectively look like regulars). Now isn’t the domestic circuit a place where the younger players should deserve to test themselves against the best in India? Isn’t it the place where young ‘talent’ should get the ‘opportunity’ to lock horns with veterans in the first place? If you can decide if our cricketers should be playing in international leagues, you definitely have the authority to decide if they should be playing in domestic or international matches. Is it really difficult to enforce a rotation policy wherein the contracted players get sufficient international and domestic exposure, along with ample time to rest?
In the 2011 Ranji Trophy alone we had 76 centuries scored in 56 matches. Yet, we struggle to find decent replacements for our star batsmen. Is there something wrong there? The pitches in the domestic circuit definitely merit a relook. If we want competitive teams playing in the domestic arena, we need competitive pitches – it doesn’t get simpler than that. 19 matches producing results out of these 56 matches does not present a very good picture, despite it being better than the previous season.
For India to really become a strength in world cricket for any sustained period of time, it should have two teams playing for her – one team comprising the players who try to win on the field; the other, the administration that must try to win off it. You are lucky that the first team is doing exceptionally well and thus have managed to evade the limelight. But you‘ve got to ask yourself, for how long?
I don’t need to remind you of the famous quote from Spiderman that with great powers come great responsibilities. You enjoy a position of great power. You know very well what’s missing.
But we still live in hope (being hopeful comes easy to an Indian cricket fan). Let us put the ‘Cricket’ back in BCCI. Let us make a statement that BCCI can stand for ‘The Board which Cares for Cricket in India’. You owe one to the game.
The people who make up India
Also read BCCI’s reply to this letter.