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The Curious case of BCCI

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Umang Joshi:

The BCCI seems to enjoy hitting the headlines for all the odd and erratic reasons. First the IPL -Gate saw the board virtually at loggerheads with Lalit Modi, who was served with a suspension notice over allegations of financial misdemeanor and who is currently being entangled in a legal battle with the board which has created a huge media buzz around the globe. As if this was not enough, our very own majestic cricket board has again created a controversy of sorts by deciding not to send men’s and women’s cricket teams to the Asian Games, scheduled to be held in Guangzhou, China later this year, citing international commitments. This shocking development apparently means that we wont see our Indian players competing at the prestigious Asiad event. This decision shows blatant arrogance on the part of the sports body at the cost of national pride. The big wigs and the honchos reigning at BCCI have once again put commercial interests above sporting spirit under the garb of international commitments. It is pertinent to note that the Olympic Council of Asia decided to include T20 cricket in this year’s Games for the first time at the behest of both India and Pakistan. Having sponsored the game, it was incumbent on BCCI to follow through by sending its most competitive team for the event. It could have surely used its clout to postpone the New Zealand series but this was not the case and it visibly put its commercial objectives and gave priority to minting money over the national glory. The board was so preoccupied with infighting and sneaking a sponsor that it forgot to even send an entry at the prestigious Asian games despite repeated reminders and requests by the Indian Olympic Association. This blatant move has irked the entire nation and has also given much weight and credibility to the theory that the BCCI is solely interested in minting money and raking in revenue at the cost of national pride and glory. This shocker from the board has also deprived and bereft the country of a probable medal since India is a stronghold in Asian cricket. The Asian game which is second only to the Olympic games are a significant and an exalted event and a decision to skip it clearly shows the commercial bent of the board. This is because there is no prize money at the Asian games and also its tacit by the actions of BCCI that it does not wish to play under the aegis of IOA which is regulated by the government and BCCI being a cooperative cum commercial enterprise operating solely on basis of profit. India’s participation in the Asiad,where cricket is making its debut,was being perceived as a huge boost to inject popularity considering the powerhouse that Indian cricket is but this has been rejected by the monopoly of a bunch of incompetent and irresponsible non professionals. The women’s team has no international commitment to fulfill at the time of Asiad so the argument citing international commitments is preposterous and runs flat.

Some even say that the issue is beyond money and the apparent reason is the contentious WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) whereabouts clause which makes it incumbent on players to disclose their whereabouts. The players have to inform the ICC at the beginning of every quarter (three-month period) of the year, a location and time that they will be available for an hour each day in that quarter for dope testing. If a player changes his schedule in between, then he needs to update the whereabouts information to the nodal officer either online or even through SMS. However, if the player is not in the location at the time specified, he will have a strike recorded against his name. Three such strikes and the player will have breached the code and can face up to a two-year suspension from the game. Agreed that the finer details of the clause needs to worked upon and a consensus ought to be achieved but notwithstanding this the Indian players are not special and if players like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and even the likes of Usain Bolt can agree to comply with the WADA norms, I dont see any reason why our cricketers who are pampered beyond measure should refuse to do the same. Even FIFA had some issues with this clause, but they have negotiated the issue with Wada and the ICC should work in tandem with Wada to avoid further conflict. That having said, our men in blue are no 007 Spies that they cant reveal their whereabouts two months before they play and if a country like Pakistan which is a breeding ground for terrorists can send their players to Asiad and hence comply with the norms of Wada, this argument is also not worthwhile to stand on its feet. The heart of a billion people will definitely burn seeing China, Afghanistan and other obscure nations competing while the tricolour would be conspicuous by its absence.

Also I believe that let’s not dilute the primary issue of participation by throwing in the idea of two teams as a practical solution. Participation cannot be half-hearted at such mega-sports events where national pride is at stake and the Asian Games come second only to the Olympics in terms of international participation and reputation. They provide a spectacular and an amazing platform for countries to showcase their sporting talent before an international audience and thus a win here is unmatched and incomparable. BCCI needs to stop thinking them as the owner of Indian cricket and they must rise above petty politics and gain some much needed sense. Also may I use this opportunity to share an interesting trivia that ‘Team India plays for BCCI, not Govt’ and hence any match played by Indian cricket team at the international level is a match played by the official team of BCCI and not the official team of India. The activities of the board including the selection of the Indian team had nothing to do with the Government of India. The board does not even fly the national flag nor use any national emblem in its activities. BCCI is established as a copperative society under an obscure Tamil Nadu Act and has nothing to do with the government . It is an independent body operating without any interference by the govt. and hence they consider themselves as if they own cricket and hence believe any erroneous action as being legitimate. To summarise my verbal brickbats it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that managing cricket is not its only forte, BCCI is adept at playing games to and thanks to the unmatched clout it enjoys it has come winning in all cases including this Asiad controversy.

Finally to put an end to my musing I believe that without India’s participation, the cricket contest at Asiad is most likely to turn out to be a damp squib and if the BCCI truly sees itself as a cricket powerhouse and an organisation that should have a significant say in determining the future of the game, then it is imperative that it starts taking its participation at multilateral, multidisciplinary and glorious sporting events such as the Asian Games a bit more seriously. Even if an iota of patriotism and national pride is left, it should act a bit more responsibly and should review its reprehensible decision again. It would not be an exaggeration to end by saying that BCCI is not Board of Control for Cricket in India rather it stands for Board of Control for Cash in India or rather Bunch of Crackpots, crankbrains and Idiots guided totally by profits and interested solely in minting money and acting as incompetent and irresponsible non professionals in all circumstances.

The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz. A student of Amity Law School, Delhi, he is truly perseverant and pragmatic and a person with vivid imagination and caring soul. He says that he’s consistently inconsistent but a firm believer that courage of conviction is the game-changer in life. 🙂

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