Sachin Tendulkar’s 200th test match is surrounded by a whole lot of unwanted drama, with the sudden scheduling of the upcoming West Indies series and the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) ‘u-turn’ from the tour of South Africa. This is a gist of how the story unfolded- BCCI had issues with Haroon Lorgat when he was the Chief Executive of the ICC and they had agreed to disagree over many issues. For one thing, Lorgat was consistently in the favor of Decision Review System (DRS), and he kept pushing for the DRS much against the wishes of the BCCI. BCCI also didn’t like the fact that Lorgat unfailingly liked to remain in the news . When the time came, the BCCI didn’t want Cricket South Africa (CSA) to appoint him as their CEO. CSA, however, went on to appoint Lorgat and dared to defy the bullying by the BCCI. Since then, the BCCI has not been able to swallow this bitter pill, and it seems they’ve plotted their revenge. With this out of the blue scheduling of the West Indies series, BCCI is clearly trying to send a strong message to CSA, and in fact, not just CSA, but to all the other boards, too. The message is loud and clear- “we’re rich and we know it”.
THE GOOD OLD “BCCI TAMASHA”
The tamasha of favors and counter favors picked up its pace after the introduction of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008. The BCCI re-defined the barter system using cricket and started using the power of money to bully the entire cricketing world. Flashback 2008: Sri Lanka was scheduled to tour England for a test series, but the ‘dollar-eyeing’ men of the BCCI interfered and forced Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to call-off the England tour and instead send their players to play in the IPL. In return, the BCCI promised that Indian team will tour Sri Lanka, providing SLC with an opportunity to make lots of money. Former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who was then the President of SLC, was against this move, and made many attempts to defy this bullying, but he couldn’t succeed. As a result, the tour got canceled and the Sri Lankan players along with many English players played in the inaugural season of the IPL. Arjuna Ranatunga took a firm stand against this trading business and consequently had to step down from his post. Since then, Ranatunga has been criticizing the IPL, but to no avail. Like a true bully, the BCCI doesn’t care too much about the critics; they do what they want to do.
In the last six years or so, the BCCI has also become a neighborhood bank for all those who trade cricket with them. Sri Lanka and West Indies were scheduled to play an ODI series in West Indies during the sixth season of the IPL, but, obviously, the BCCI had some other plans. Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine are all star players of the IPL, and their presence is always a big boost for the tournament. So here’s what the BCCI had to offer- A tri-nation series including West Indies, Sri Lanka and India. WICB and SLC are both financially weak boards and it was almost impossible for them to reject the BCCI’s offer, because it would be a dual loss for them;
They would lose millions of dollars.
They wouldn’t dare mess with the BCCI.
Not long ago, India toured Zimbabwe for a five-match ODI series, and this series was a return gift from the BCCI because ZC voted in the favor Laxman Sivaramakrishnan; BCCI’s man for a post at the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) office. ZC wanted to have a test series, but the BCCI was reluctant and as a result, an ODI series with very few big names and a struggling Zimbabwean side was organized. It was more of a thanksgiving series just to make sure that ZC’s vote will be in their favor, whenever arises the need.
FRIENDS, ENEMIES & LOVERS
The BCCI use money to make friends, and those who disagree; get to face the music from the world’s richest cricketing board. Once upon a time, BCCI and CSA used to share a very friendly relation.
Flashback 2008. When the Indian government wasn’t able to provide enough support for the IPL during the elections, the tournament was shifted to South Africa. BCCI also organized a farewell match for Makhaya Ntini.
This is an old habit of the BCCI – turning friends to enemies then back to friends. Like a business organization, BCCI likes trading favor for favor.
The BCCI is always keen to humiliate the rebels and CSA is no mood to bow down.
The whole cricketing world is waiting for the clash between a promising young side and the number one test team, but, agonizingly, the series is on the verge of getting cancelled or curtailed significantly, and the worst part is; there is no cricketing reason involved. It will be all due to the dirty-politics and the power game. We are all waiting intense for cricket-battles; Steyn and Tendulkar, Morkel and Dhawan, Zaheer and Smith, but we might have to satisfy ourselves with the same old dosage of India vs Sri Lanka.
BCCI is only thinking about the second ‘C’ in their name i.e. ‘control’ and they have sidelined the other ‘c’, the most important one, which stands for ‘cricket’. The board, which is supposed to be driven by ideals of good governance and the good of the game, and whose first and foremost duty is to take decisions that are in the best interest of the Indian cricket, has lost its way. The so-called ‘wise-men’ take more pride in being called the most powerful and dominant board.
This clash of egos will cause much monitory loss to both the parties, perhaps more to CSA, but what about this young Indian side that needs experience and exposure?
South Africa is a very challenging place to go and play Test cricket, and we have seen players grow in stature after performing well there. The Indian team is full of young players, and they are expected to play for a long time to come. Playing in South Africa against the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander would help them gain some valuable experience and this will prepare them for the future. There will be a time (very soon) when these young ‘inexperienced’ players will take up the bigger roles and if they aren’t familiar with all the different conditions, Indian cricket will suffer.
Like many others, this story will soon lose its sheen. The rich men of the BCCI will manage to balance the relationship and all the romantics will move on with the flow of the game.
But, if all this continues, then Indian cricket will only go downhill.