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Ishant Sharma: Angry and suspended but still his skipper Kohli’s delight


Ishant Sharma is earning both plaudits and criticism.

If the bouquets are for his stirring performances with the ball, the brickbats are for the blatant aggression on the field that has not just seen him fined 65% of his match fee but also found him in violation the ICC’s Code of Conduct.

The new-found aggression and maturity (as a fast bowler) has not gone unnoticed.

Dilip “Colonel” Vengsarkar considers the lanky pacer his find.

He said:

“He has been bowling at good speeds, hitting the good length often and getting bounce because of his height and action.”

Amit Mishra had this to say about Ishant’s efforts with the ball in the first innings of the second Test.

“The way Ishant bowled with the new ball was important on a slow track. His effort in the heat, that spell set the game up for us.”

TA Sekhar, India fast bowling coach, said:

“Basically, he is bowling a good line and length. There is an increase in speed from what he used to bowl earlier. After starting (his career) by bowling 145 kmph, he reduced in pace. But now he has gained speed and touching 140. He is expect to give breakthroughs in the first spell with the new ball. Ishant has played a lot of Test matches but doesn’t have a great record. He lacks variation like what Zaheer Khan had and this is something that he has to start working on.”

Another former fast bowler, Chetan Sharma, believes that Ishant is a much improved player now.

He said:

“Ishant is bowling well. I was in Sri Lanka and I spoke to him for half-an-hour. He sounded a very mature fast bowler. There used to be shy bowlers who used to sneak past their seniors in order to avoid a talk with them, but not Ishant, who comes and speaks to you. And that tells you about his confidence. He understands what he is doing. And, he has the backing of a lot of talented youngsters like Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and (Mohammed) Shami. I don’t think there is a problem in the pace department. If a pacer can pick up 2-3 wickets on the sub-continent tracks, then I believe he has done his job.”

Fellow Delhiite, Ashish Nehra, was slightly back-handed with his compliments.

He said:

“I am a big fan of Umesh Yadav — talentwise even though he has not fulfilled his true potential as to what he should have achieved by now. He is somewhat similar to me but my case was more to do with injuries. Varun (Aaron) and Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) are also talented.
But Ishant Sharma, who has played 60 Test matches (62) is the least talented among them but one of the most hardworking guys around.
If Ishant has played so much and for so long, it is a testimony that talent alone can’t be the recipe for success. Talent can only take you till certain point but is nothing without hard work.”

If Nehra is right in that Ishant is the least talented among the current crop of pace men, then Indian cricket is blessed indeed.

Nehra spoke at length about Sharma.

Asked about his higher-than-normal strike rate, Nehra said:

“Look, there is a perception about Ishant. I agree his strike-rate is on the higher side but in last one year, he has taken five-fors in New Zealand and England. So he is improving. Don’t forget, he is only 27 and has already played 62 Tests because he started at 18. We should not put undue pressure on him and start saying ‘drop Ishant Sharma and get someone new’. What will happen if he is dropped? Nothing will happen. BCCI should just ensure that a fast bowler is given enough time and confidence to settle down. Dropping a bowler after one bad series can’t be a solution. A new fast bowler would take at least two series to just settle down.”

The Delhi bowler believes that fast bowlers do better when they enjoy the confidence of their skippers.

He added:

“Look the bottom line is, if you are bowling well, then you need nobody for help. But there will be times when even if you keep a deep point, the batsman will still hammer you. Then you have no option but to listen to your captain and bowl as per the field set by him. Michael Clarke was a great captain till last Ashes and today Alastair Cook has suddenly become a great captain. If you look at history of fast bowler-captain relationships — for example Sunil Gavaskar-Kapil Dev or Mohammed Azharuddin-Javagal Srinath, that has always been the case. When the going is good, nothing matters. Everything comes out when the performance level dips.”

Sharma seems to have no such problems on this score with his current leader, Virat Kohli.

Scribes might have expected some censure from India’s fire-brand captain given that Sharma will now miss the first home Test against South Africa for his aggressive send-offs in the third Test and the war of words with opposition players.

Kohli, however, was unperturbed.

He said:

“I was very happy with the incident (argument with Prasad) when he was batting. It happened at the right time for us because we had to bowl on Monday and they made him angry. It could not have happened at a better time for us And the way he (Ishant) bowled in the second innings, he didn’t concede a boundary for 19 overs. That’s the kind of pressure he created on those batsmen because of one incident. He bowled his heart out like he has always done when the Indian team has needed to defend scores in Test matches.An angry fast bowler is a captain’s delight. I was really happy to see what happened yesterday and it switched some things on in the right ways. It had to be controlled but in the end it benefitted us.”

The spring in the step is back and very much evident. After two hard-fought series in England and Australia where the Indians came off second-best, they appeared a much more hardy bunch in Sri Lanka. The score-line could very well have read 3-0 instead of 2-1 if the Indians had plugged away as they did in the last two Tests. It is a team sport and moments of personal brilliance and stellar performances can at most win you a Test or two. It takes consistent togetherness and toughness to pull through a gruelling series.

South Africa at home will be the real Test. Can Team India do an encore?

The Why and Que of Kumara Sangakkara and Michael Clarke – II


If Sangakkara is the quintessential gentleman beyond the game, Michael Clarke is the bright young upstart turned elder statesman and guardian of its values.

The transformation occurred under intense public scrutiny where every move and misdemeanour was analysed and dissected.

Pup’s metamorphosis would not have been possible without the support of his partner and wife, Kyly Boldy.

Clarke’s previous choice, Lara Bingle, was an equally high profile personality.

Their three-year relationship which began in 2007 and ended in 2010 was always in the news and not for the right reasons.

It was, perhaps, no surprise that the relationship ended around the time Clarke began his ascension to the throne of Australian cricket.

The ostensible reason for the break-up was an exclusive tell-all interview that Bingle sold to a women’s magazine.

And that’s when the current Mrs. Clarke and then Kyly Boldy boldly stepped into the frame.

From ‘just friends’ to an ‘item’ within months, the former schoolmates fast forwarded to the present with Boldy proving to be an able and capable First Lady of the national obsession.

Just who is Kyly Boldy?

According to her:

“I’d hope that people would think I come across as classy and that’s just because I like to hold myself that way. I guess that’s what I like to embrace and I think that’s a really nice quality in a woman.

And I hope people see me as a fun-loving ‘girl next door’. I’m a lot more of a jokester than everyone thinks – a lot more. I’m always cracking some kind of a joke or having a laugh, and I think people will be a bit surprised to see that really down-to-earth Kyly my family get to see.”

The comparisons to Bingle were evident, at first. They are both models and media personalities in their own rights.

Boldy, however, decided to shun the limelight post her marriage to Clarke in 2012.

The wedding was low-profile.

Boldy certainly has no time or place for the WAG tag used to euphemistically describe sportsmen’s partners.

She says:

“I’m not sure who started it, but they should get a slap on the wrist. Every single wife or girlfriend I’ve met who has been a part of the cricket community has always stood on her own – they have their own jobs, they have their own careers, they all do very, very well for themselves. I wonder what the husbands could be called? I wonder if we could swap this around?”

And she certainly would not like to take any credit for her husband’s success.

“That is so funny. But, nah, I don’t take any credit for any of his success. I see Michael wake up every single day, trying to be the best cricketer he can be, to be a better captain than the day before. The dedication and the passion that he has for his job is something I’ve never seen before and something I really admire. He should get every little bit of credit.

Sure, his family life or his home life might be more suitable for him, and maybe he’s just more comfortable that he feels like he can just go to cricket and do his thing – but that’s not a question I can answer. I am just happy that he is doing so well, and I know he will continue to do well because he wants to.”

She sums up her life with Clarke in these words:

“You have to wake up every single day with your own goals and dreams in life, love, family and career. You can’t take that away from anybody and I think that’s what our family is about.”

Kyly took her job as captain Clarke’s better half seriously enough to learn the rules to the game.

“As everyone keeps reminding me, it (being cricket captain) is the second most important job in Australia so obviously being alongside Michael, that is a huge thing. I’ve matured with age, a girl that has turned into a lady, and I’m trying to do everything the best way I can by learning as I go. I’ve had to Wikipedia the rules because I wanted to go into it knowing something. It makes it so much more enjoyable when you know exactly what is going on. And then you really do start to love the game because you can appreciate what is happening.”

Perhaps, it has helped that Clarke himself was a more mature person when he started dating Kyly.

An older, wiser Clarke refused to talk about his personal life and focused media questions on his cricket.

Clarke also has nothing but praise for his wife’s workout ethic especially her diet.

“I can’t believe how disciplined she is with her diet. She’s got that self-discipline to not touch the junk food if she doesn’t want to, whereas if I see it in the cupboard it’s gone, I eat it! I can’t have two pieces of chocolate and put it away, I’ve got to eat the whole bar.”

(Funny how this jells with my personal view that if sportsmen need to watch their diets, they should date or wed models or actresses who do that all the time. Look at Shane Warne’s new, slim, look since teaming up with Elizabeth Hurley—now apart.)

A bad back and an indifferent Ashes series hastened Pup’s early retirement. It, however,  gives the couple ample privacy and time to welcome the first addition to their family with Kyly expecting soon.

While two greats exit the field, they begin anew a home life that demands much more from them than just runs, wickets, catches and wins. It is a second innings away from glory but will require guts nonetheless.

The Why and Que of Kumara Sangakkara and Michael Clarke – I


There’s always something to be said about back stories—the people, the spouses, the families behind a sportsperson’s successes.

Two stalwarts of the game—Kumara Sangakkara and Michael Clarke—retire from the game having announced their exit some time before.

Much has been written about them; tributes have been paid—ad nauseam.

But what about the women in their lives?

Yehali Sangakkara is the talk of the town ever since stunning pictures with her hubby hit the sports pages.

The dynamic and sultry beauty expressed her sentiments about her counterpart returning home.

Speaking to Sony Six, Yehali said:

“He is an extremely messy person, the messiest on earth. But he loves to cook and absolutely loves making pasta at home.We never discussed cricket at home and always made sure there was life away from the sport at home. Conversations revolved around kids and made sure there was life beyond the sport.Kumar is a very relaxed, open sort of person. He has never demanded much. (But) He will have to get used to our routine now. He will of course still play some cricket for a year or two.”

Yehali and Kumara have known each other since their school days. They dated for eight years before settling down.

The wicketkeeper-batsman says:

“In my case, it (marriage) keeps me grounded and gives me a base where I can think my life out, refocus and renew energies for the next day.”

The 2011 MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture is Yehali’s favoured Sanga moment when it comes to cricket.

Here’s a sample of her spouse’s famed words:

“Ladies and Gentleman, the history of my country extends over 2500 years.

A beautiful island situated in an advantageously strategic position in the Indian Ocean has long attracted the attentions of the world at times to both our disadvantage and at times to our advantage.

Sri Lanka is land rich in natural beauty and resources augmented by a wonderfully resilient and vibrant and hospitable people whose attitude to life has been shaped by volatile politics both internal and from without.

In our history you will find periods of glorious peace and prosperity and times of great strife, war and violence. Sri Lankans have been hardened by experience and have shown themselves to be a resilient and proud society celebrating at all times our zest for life and living.

Sri Lankans are a close knit community. The strength of the family unit reflects the spirit of our communities. We are an inquisitive and fun-loving people, smiling defiantly in the face of hardship and raucously celebrating times of prosperity.

Living not for tomorrow, but for today and savouring every breath of our daily existence. We are fiercely proud of our heritage and culture; the ordinary Sri Lankan standing tall and secure in that knowledge.

Over four hundred years of colonization by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British has failed to crush or temper our indomitable spirit. And yet in this context the influence upon our recent history and society by the introduced sport of cricket is surprising and noteworthy.

Sri Lankans for centuries have fiercely resisted the Westernisation of our society, at times summarily dismissing western tradition and influence as evil and detrimental.

Yet cricket, somehow, managed to slip through the crack in our anti-Western defences and has now become the most precious heirloom of our British Colonial inheritance.

Maybe it is a result of our simple sense of hospitality where a guest is treated to all that we have and at times even to what we don’t have.

If you a visit a rural Sri Lankan home and you are served a cup of tea you will find it to be intolerably sweet. I have at times experienced this and upon further inquiry have found that it is because the hosts believe that the guest is entitled to more of everything including the sugar. In homes where sugar is an ill-affordable luxury a guest will still have sugary tea while the hosts go without.”

Speaking to Wisden India, Sangakkara elaborated on his partnership with Yehali:

“I met her in Kandy, we were in two schools that had the same founder. Rev Ireland Jones founded Trinity and then Hillwood College in Kandy. I met her there when I was about 16-17 and have been with her for well over 20 years now. And it’s been the best partnership of my life, without a doubt. We have two beautiful children and she’s a very practical, very sensible lady who minces no words in telling me exactly what she thinks of my cricket or what I do or the decisions that I make. Not in any technical sense but in a sense of whether what the thought processes are that go into making these decisions. She has been one of the most important figures in keeping me grounded and ensuring that there is sanity at home. There is order when I am playing. When I am away from home, I have always travelled with them, with my wife and my children. I have been very, very blessed to have her in my life and hopefully, she will decide to stay with me for many years longer.”

Sangakkara’s wife was expecting when the Sri Lankans were attacked in Pakistan. Recalling that gruesome event, the former skipper said:

“Yes, actually my wife was a few months pregnant, quite pregnant by the time we were attacked. So actually I called her and I spoke to her and I said listen, we were driving to the ground and there has been a bit of a shooting but everyone’s fine. Don’t worry about anything. That’s all I told her, I didn’t tell her anything about who got hurt, who got hit and all of this. But unfortunately, there were news items being run saying I got hit in the head and people have died and all these things and she was panicking. I got a few calls and at the end of the day I said listen, I am talking to you, so that means I am fine! But at the same time, I can understand the stress that she was going through. It was easier for us because we knew exactly what was happening but they weren’t getting the news quickly enough or clearly enough. And it was hugely stressful not just on her but all the families and you could see when we landed that the relief they had to have us back and at home in Sri Lanka. It was quite a tough time.”

If  Kumara is the man-about-town, his other half is no less enterprising.

Yehali took over a television microphone when she ‘interviewed’ an Aussie spectator at his final Test in Colombo.

The Australian was all paeans.

He said:

“I love Kumar. He is one of the all-time greats of cricket. I am an Australian but am a huge supporter of Sri Lankan cricket.It’s a sad day to see Kumar retire but we will always remember his great innings.”

Yehali revealed:

“I think he went through the normal process – from school to NCC to ‘A’ team and then to the national team. The process worked and he became mature.We are blessed to have a very supportive family. Kumar’s parents and siblings are very supportive. We have good friends around us who keep us grounded. He always believes in doing the right thing. He says, ‘If you do the right thing, good will follow’. He has always taken responsibility on himself rather than pointing fingers at others.”

To be continued…

Sanju Samson is allegedly the Abominable Salivator


Sanju Samson has allegedly behaved badly.

The India ‘A’ keeper has been accused of salivating spitefully at his Australian opponents’ feet.

The incident occurred in the tri-series final between the home side and the visitors.

India ‘A’ clinched the title, registering their first victory in the series against their counterparts from Down Under.

The Kerala player claimed a catch that the Australians felt was illegal.

This led to an exchange of words when the 20-year-old came out to bat.

Usman Khawaja, the Aussie skipper, said:

“Obviously the guys in our team were disappointed that he claimed he had taken the catch.

Today he spit in front of our player’s foot three times. If you do that the boys are going to get worked up and the umpires were not understanding it. We did try to calm the boys, but they just went on and on.

I am happy if the batsman happens to talk back but spitting is not on. He spit on one of our players when he came onto the field.

If one of our players said something to him, he can say something back but not spitting.”

Khawaja added:

“I do not want to make a big deal about things that happened on the field. I do not want to take away any credit from India. They really played well today and were the better team to have won.

Unfortunately, incidents like that happen. Some incident happened the other day with one of your bowler (Sandeep Sharma). He was coming back and it was fine. I was happy with that. I have seen it all, it is another game, it does not affect me too much.

It is always tough to defend a total of 220 runs. We had our chance when the fifth wicket fell but we have to take wickets to win the game. India just batted sensibly. The wicket was up and down and it was not turning massive. If we had few more runs we could strangle them on that kind of wicket.”

The match umpires and other officials should be filing their report with the BCCI.

An investigation into this kind of unwarranted behaviour and its antecedents should be launched to prevent any such recurrence.

Players behaving badly—spittle-less or not—can only lead to more bad blood in the future and should be nipped in the bud.

It is a gentleman’s game after all.

Lalit Modi wishes to take over the cricketing world


Lalit Modi is a megalomaniac.

The former czar of the IPL wishes to take over the world—the cricketing world.

And that too in style.

Modi and his cronies have envisaged a new world order that does not require the sanction of the ICC, one that affiliates itself with the Olympic movement. The blueprint will do away with ODI cricket altogether and consist of only Test and T20 tourneys.

Modi said:

“We’re talking about another cricketing system. There is a blueprint out there, it’s got my rubber stamp on it. I have been involved in it. I say it for the first time, I’ve been involved in putting that (blue)print together. We could take on the existing establishment, no problem. It requires a few billion dollars, I don’t think it would be a problem to get that … into action.

The plan that I have put together is a very detailed plan, it’s not a plan that’s come off the cuff, it’s been taking years and years and years in the making.”

International Cricket Council

International Cricket Council (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fugitive from justice has termed the big three of international cricket, India, Australia and England “snakes”.

Speaking to ABC Network in its documentary, ‘The Great Cricket Coup’, Modi said:

“They are the three snakes of cricket. You’ve got to take their neck off, you’ve got to chop their head off, otherwise cricket will not survive.”

(Modi apparently does not understand that snakes have no necks.)

Modi added:

“For me to get players would be…a switch of a button. There was a report that ran on the front of The Australian newspaper that said $100 million pay cheque for two of your players. I think that’s an easy cheque to write and if that cheque is easy to write then ‘would I get the players or not?’ is a question you should ask the players, not me.”

The heartening aspect of this extraordinary plan is that Modi does not intend to do away with Test cricket.

Also, he does see the need to gain approval from another body, if not the ICC, the IOC.

That is going to be an onerous task.

The ICC is unlikely to relinquish control over a sport that is a money-spinner for the powers-that-be without a fight.

It would be interesting to see how Modi’s plot pans out.

Kerry Packer and his ‘pyjama cricket’ improved cricket telecasting and was the harbinger of fatter pay packets for the players and commentators.

Not that the sport needs more; at least, the Indian players would differ strongly.

But an offshoot of any such attempt might mean that more cricket is played all over the world and the profits redistributed to many more nations much like Sepp Blatter’s FIFA, perhaps, without the endemic corruption and powerplay(s).

More power to Modi.

The Great Cricket Coup‘ is available for viewing here.

 

 

Australia versus England: Who shall have the Ashes?


I really didn’t want to write this article; I haven’t been catching the Ashes—the war of the English roses  and the Australian wattles—a tradition itself within a traditional game.

It’s not that I don’t like cricket or that I’m overly patriotic and catch mostly India games (which I do) but I simply cannot bring up any passion for watching this series.

The Ashes—on television—are a visual treat; the commentating is excellent and there’s everything very attractive about the packaging of a historic rivalry that evokes memories of battles past.

I wish Indian television were able to come up with a better presentation of the  Indo-Pak rivalry but aside from the jingoism it revisits, there’s little to recommend for couch aesthetes.

The five-match series began with the Aussies favoured by one and all. After all, they were the ODI world champs and had thrashed their Trans-Atlantic foes comprehensively in the series Down Under. The pundits predicted that Alistair’s goose was Cooked.

England surprised one and all by winning the first Test. But the Aussies were out for blood in the second and prevailed in a somewhat one-sided encounter.

Steve Harmison in action at the Oval for Engla...

Steve Harmison in action at the Oval for England’s One Day International side against Bangladesh on 16 June 2005 Image created by the author with Nikon D70 + 70-300mm Nikkor G lens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To everyone’s surprise, the third Test ran along similar lines. Except this time, it was the home side that dominated from Day One. The return of Steve Finn implied that England now had three wicket-taking pacers; the weakness of this side has been that the support pacers are  there simply to make up the numbers; they never were strike options.

Can Finn be the Steve Harmison of this side? Remember Stevie, from the 2005 Ashes in tandem with Freddie Flintoff pushing the Aussies on the backfoot in the absence of Glenn McGrath and the first signs of what was to come once  Warne and he exited the greats.

England , not too long ago, were number one; they ascended to that pole position when they beat India at home in 2011. It is a number they have since ceded to South Africa.

Can they lay the foundation for another push at that supreme figure?

The next two Tests are crucial. Has the momentum shifted in England’s favour?

Will the Aussies bite back with venom?

The urn beckons.

 

IPL spot-fixing scandal: Sreesanth, Chandila and Chavan go scot-free, not quite…


With S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan absolved of any  criminal complicity in the IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal and the BCCI drawing a line in the sand claiming that their ban on the aforesaid individuals will not be revoked, Indian cricket fans are in for more courtroom drama involving the BCCI and the freed trio.

Sreesanth at Adelaide Oval

Sreesanth at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Delhi court order leaves the field open for the three players to challenge the nation’s premier cricket body and overturn the ban. This may be a long drawn-out process. There is no guarantee that if and when the ban is nullified, the players will be at their best. They have lost their prime years while serving the ban.

Mohammad Azharuddin, Nayan Mongia and Ajay Jadeja cleared  their names by taking on the BCCI via the Indian judicial system. Yet, only Jadeja was able to make a comeback of sorts to competitive cricket.

What must perplex every cricket aficionado is how and why one tribunal found the IPL players guilty and the other did not. The evidence presented in both cases was the same. Strange are the ways of the Indian judicial system and the BCCI.

The BCCI responded to the Delhi High Court’s verdict thus:

“Any disciplinary proceeding or decision taken by the BCCI is independent of any criminal proceeding and has no bearing. The decisions of the BCCI, based on its independent disciplinary action, shall remain unaltered.The BCCI has nothing to do with acriminal case between the police and individuals. The disciplinary proceedings of the board and the criminal case of the police are independent of each other. In certain cases a charge is enough in a departmental inquiry while the same charge is needed to be proved in a court of law.”

PR Raman, a former legal officer with the cricketing body, said:

“The standard of proof in a court is different from standard of proof in a BCCI inquiry. Acquittal in a court cannot have any influence on the BCCI action which was taken independent of court rules.The degree of strictness is different from a court and a domestic/departmental inquiry. The laws in courts are not similar to those in the BCCI. The BCCI goes by its own code of conduct.Savani had found out that they were hobnobbing with bookies. That is enough to prove the players guilty. Talking to bookies is unacceptable under the BCCI code.”

Mohammad Amir pulling on his jumper in the out...

Mohammad Amir pulling on his jumper in the outfield. Taken during Pakistan’s third Test against England in August 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt were handed five, seven and ten years bans by an ICC tribunal. The criminal case that followed wherein the ICC verdict was not made available to the English press to prevent biasing any jury found the above guilty of conspiracy to cheat at gambling and accepting corrupt payments. Butt and Asif were sentenced to 30 and 12 months in prison respectively while Amir was sentenced to six months in Feltham Young Offenders Institution.

The teen-aged fast bowler was freed after serving only half his sentence.

The ICC tribunal and the Southwark Crown Court were one in accord.

The discordant note struck yesterday  will have warning bells going off within the BCCI once more.

English: Mohammad Azharuddin Sangeeta Bijlani

Mohammad Azharuddin Sangeeta Bijlani (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BCCI fires off conflict of interest missive to members


When the BCCI stated that it would accept the Lodha Committee’s recommendations in toto, few believed it would make any substantial difference to its inner workings and the postponement of any decision about the suspended teams CSK and RR only fueled these suspicions.

The first inkling of sweeping changes in the offing occurred yesterday when the BCCI addressed the issue of conflict of interest in a letter to its members requested them to sign a declaration stating that they have no existing conflicts of interest in their capacities as officials with the BCCI or any state association.

The letter states:

“Conflict of interest is not about beliefs or biases. It is about a person’s roles and responsibilities, and the tendency or apprehension of bias that assumes to exist when duties, decisions or actions conflict. Deciding that someone has a conflict of interest is a description of a situation, not a judgement about the person or their actual beliefs.”

It also asks members to declare the absence of “any personal or family allegiance, bias, inclination, obligation or any interest of whatsoever nature, directly or indirectly which may in any way affect or provide any financial or any other benefit to me, my family or close relations or which may tend to interfere with or affect my objectivity, independence, impartiality and neutrality in any decision making process, acts and conduct relating to or arising out of discharge of my office of President/Hony. Secretary of …

It is a pity really that the antics of politicians and certain ‘luminaries’ within the BCCI and other national sports federations have tarred all who have been accused of conflicts of interest with the same brush.

The paucity of qualified people especially ex-sportspersons willing to be a part of sports administration is well known and there is always a possibility that there will be some entanglement of private and public roles and responsibilities.

That’s as it is. It should not be sufficient reason to jettison recent developments as non-viable or unworkable in an Indian context. This has been the bane of any attempt at reforms.

Let us revisit the definition of ‘conflict of interest‘ first.

Wikipedia states:

“A conflict of interest (COI) is a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple interests (financial, emotional, or otherwise), one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation of the individual or organization.

The presence of a conflict of interest is independent of the occurrence of impropriety. Therefore, a conflict of interest can be discovered and voluntarily defused before any corruption occurs. A widely used definition is: “A conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgement or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.” Primary interest refers to the principal goals of the profession or activity, such as the protection of clients, the health of patients, the integrity of research, and the duties of public office. Secondary interest includes not only financial gain but also such motives as the desire for professional advancement and the wish to do favours for family and friends, but conflict of interest rules usually focus on financial relationships because they are relatively more objective, fungible, and quantifiable. The secondary interests are not treated as wrong in themselves, but become objectionable when they are believed to have greater weight than the primary interests. The conflict in a conflict of interest exists whether or not a particular individual is actually influenced by the secondary interest. It exists if the circumstances are reasonably believed (on the basis of past experience and objective evidence) to create a risk that decisions may be unduly influenced by secondary interests.”

Conflict of interest is best understood in the judicial context. It’s probably no surprise that Shashank Manohar, a lawyer by profession, was and is one of former BCCI supremo N Srinivasan’s staunchest critics.

“Judicial disqualification, also referred to as recusal, refers to the act of abstaining from participation in an official action such as a court case/legal proceeding due to a conflict of interest of the presiding court official or administrative officer. Applicable statutes or canons of ethics may provide standards for recusal in a given proceeding or matter. Providing that the judge or presiding officer must be free from disabling conflicts of interest makes the fairness of the proceedings less likely to be questioned.

In the legal profession, the duty of loyalty owed to a client prohibits an attorney (or a law firm) from representing any other party with interests adverse to those of a current client. The few exceptions to this rule require informed written consent from all affected clients, i.e., an “ethical wall”. In some circumstances, a conflict of interest can never be waived by a client. In perhaps the most common example encountered by the general public, the same firm should not represent both parties in a divorce or child custody matter. Found conflict can lead to denial or disgorgement of legal fees, or in some cases (such as the failure to make mandatory disclosure), criminal proceedings. In the United States, a law firm usually cannot represent a client if its interests conflict with those of another client, even if they have separate lawyers within the firm, unless (in some jurisdictions) the lawyer is segregated from the rest of the firm for the duration of the conflict. Law firms often employ software in conjunction with their case management and accounting systems in order to meet their duties to monitor their conflict of interest exposure and to assist in obtaining waivers.”

Wikipedia also lists the following methods for mitigation of conflicts of interest:

Removal

“Blind trust”

Disclosure

Recusal

N Srinivasan, in an attempt to retain his position as BCCI president, has placed his CSK shareholdings in a ‘players’ trust‘.  This, however, did not cut any ice with the Supreme Court since the remaining 71% shares were still owned by India Cements in which he and his family members hold a controlling interest.

Disclosure and recusal sometimes go hand-in-hand where the (usually prior) disclosure of a conflict of interest may lead to the official abstaining himself from any deliberations where a personal stake could affect the outcome.

The stakes are high. The aforesaid letter is just the beginning.

The next step would be for the BCCI and state associations to set out code of ethics and conduct for players, office bearers and umpires.

Will N Srinivasan see the writing on the wall and step down from the ICC?

IPL Governing Council buys time for all concerned, except the fans


Trust the BCCI (more specifically, the IPL Governing Council) to appoint a working group to look into the recommendations of the Lodha panel.

Franchises’ input into the process is ostensibly the reason touted by the council.

It is an excuse to buy more time. It does not come as a surprise; the BCCI is split into two warring factions, one for ICC chief N Srinivasan and the other against.

The BCCI has six additional weeks to arrive at a decision.

“The show must go on,” says IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla.

It’s evident that there will be another IPL next year with eight teams, not six.

There will be yet another auction, the players and support staff will be happy that they are not monetarily or otherwise affected, the Supreme Court verdict will be honored—if not in principle.

The question on everyone’s mind: What is N Srinivasan going to do?

His position as ICC chairman is even more untenable by the day.

Can he pull yet another rabbit out of his hat?

The governing council’s decision has given him time to ponder his limited options.

If the BCCI (and the ICC) is serious about clearing the mess that is the IPL, the India Cements strongman has to exit.

Whether the CSK and RR franchises are terminated is moot. The Supreme Court verdict is less harsh than what the rules dictate.

Teams have been terminated for less.

The BCCI has painted itself into an inglorious corner with its inability and unwillingness to clean up its Augean stables.

It waited for the Supreme Court to burn them down, instead.

Is it now delaying only for the Supreme Court commission to drive the final nail into its coffin when it completes its investigation into the allegations against IPL COO Sundar Raman?

That will be Judgment Day indeed.

Umesh Yadav will not slow down despite Dhoni having his way


Mahendra Singh Dhoni is an ass.

An ass who has won Team India two World Cups and a Champions Trophy but an ass nevertheless.

Nothing else can explain why the famed leader of men in colored clothing would castigate his fast bowlers for straying while bowling quick in ODIs.

The wise men of Indian cricket were quick to follow his lead and have relegated Umesh Yadav to the India A squad.

Sir Andy Roberts rushed to Yadav’s defense.

Trust a fast bowler to understand another.

Roberts said:

“Look at Australia, Mitchell Johnson was nowhere in the last five years, but he went back, worked hard, strengthened his body and used his pace. Johnson wasn’t about line and length, he was all about pace and that’s what got Australia back to the forefront. Pace!

Yadav is India’s genuine fast bowler and I don’t like this idea of you telling your fast bowlers you must bowl line and length, you don’t sacrifice pace for length and control, all one needs to do is work hard in the nets to better his control.

Well that’s selectors for you (on Yadav’s demotion)

He (Yadav) has the pace and not too many fast bowlers have pace. You don’t just make fast bowlers. You have to be born with it.”

Yadav, however, has no intention of slowing down.

He said:

“As a genuine fast bowler, the margin of error is very less for us. It’s not easy for a fast bowler to bowl consistently in one area. It’s easier for a medium pacer to maintain line length at 130-135 km/hr. Many times boundaries go because of the pace at which I bowl. At times, I try different things and when that doesn’t work, it costs me a few runs. Everyone is different. I can’t bowl like Mustafizur Rahman and he can’t bowl like me. My release point is different from that of a medium pacer’s, If I change that, I will mess up with my bowling. I am in this team because of my pace. I have taken wickets at the international level with pace.”

On the Bangladesh defeat:

“It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for the defeat. We were playing continuously for the last 8-10 months so may be fatigue was an issue. Obviously we could have done a lot better. Having said that, Bangladesh played some good aggressive cricket. The pressure was definitely on us. They had nothing to lose. Mustafizur bowled well in the first two matches. We had never seen him before – how he uses the slow ball, how he uses those cutters. After the first two matches we got to know about his strengths and played him well in the last match. Unfortunately, the series was over by then.”

On the India A selection:

“Yes, I would have a bit of rest as I am playing continuous cricket for last eight months. However, the selectors feel I need to bowl before the Sri Lanka series. They must have thought something about me and Varun (Aaron). May be they thought we must have match practice before the Sri Lanka series. So I am prepared for that. I will try to utilize this short break to refresh myself and then be ready for the India ‘A’ assignment.”

On India’s World Cup campaign:

“When I started my cricket, I had a dream to be part of a World Cup team. I wasn’t a regular in the team before the West Indies and Sri Lanka series. However, I had that confidence and attitude that I could be part of the team. When I got the chance for West Indies series, I grabbed it with both hands and showed what I can do for the team. Only thing in my mind was to contribute in winning causes. I am glad I did that whenever the captain threw the ball to me.

We were bit tired during the triangular series after the long Test series. So we didn’t perform as well as we would’ve liked. But yes, it gave us a good opportunity to assess ourselves and what we needed to do in the World Cup. For instance, mid-wicket and deep square-legboundaries were quite long in Australia and it wasn’t easy to clear them if you hurry the batsmen and use short deliveries properly. We did exactly that. Before the tournament, nobody expected the Indian bowlers to perform that well but we knew what we were capable of. To bounce out the opposition was brilliant.”

It would have been so much nicer and smarter if MSD would have a chat with his fast bowlers on these lines instead:

“Guys, I know you cannot be accurate always and may go for runs. But what I want from my pacers are wickets and wickets quickly and at crucial junctures. If you can give me the breakthroughs and an average of 2-3 wickets per game, I will be mighty satisfied. After all, bowlers (and catches) win matches.”

That, my friends, is the way to go.

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