Should India take on Pakistan in the international sporting arena?
BCCI boss Anurag Thakur doesn’t believe so.
The BJP leader, while ruling out resumption of cricketing ties with the rogue neighbour after the latest attacks from across the border at Uri, said:
“Keeping in mind that the government has adopted a new strategy to isolate Pakistan and in view of the public sentiment in the country, we request ICC not to put India and Pakistan in the same pool of the multi-nation tournaments. If the two countries reach the semi-finals and have to clash at that time, it is another situation which can’t be avoided.”
The statement above reeks of political opportunism while ignoring commercial considerations and the future success of ICC tournaments.
While it’s no one’s case that Pakistan is a sponsor of terrorism, to ask the ICC or any other sporting body to accommodate the Indian government’s views would be setting a bad precedent—if accepted.
What happens if Bangladesh or Afghanistan make similar demands? Will the ICC oblige?
What about other sporting events such as the Olympics or World Championships? Are Indian sports persons to refuse to take on Pakistani athletes in group encounters but not in knockout rounds?
Can the US decline to play North Korea or Iran in international competitions?
India last toured their north-west neighbours in a full-fledged series in 2004. The last bilateral series occurred in 2012 with the visitors drawing the T20 series and clinching the ODIs.
India are grouped with Pakistan for the 2017 Champions Trophy.
ICC President Dave Richardson said:
“No doubt we want to try to put India versus Pakistan in our event. Its hugely important from an ICC point of view. Its massive around the world and the fans have come to expect it as well. Its fantastic for the tournament because it gives it a massive kick.”
It’s unlikely that the ICC will oblige Thakur by moving India out of the group. If the BCCI insists on making a political statement in the cricketing world, Team India might have to forfeit their game against their arch-rivals.
The men’s team are the only ones affected. The women’s side are slated to play Pakistan in a bilateral series. Should the tour be called off, their ODI ratings will be affected that may reduce their chances for automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup.
Thakur’s statement was greeted with disdain across the border.
Mohammad Yousuf said:
“I just don’t understand what he wants to say. For the last eight years India has avoided playing us in a proper bilateral series even when relations were better.”
“The ICC keeps on saying it will not tolerate politics or government interference in member boards and the BCCI President is making political statements. Either he speak as a BJP leader or BCCI head.”
An unnamed Pakistan Cricket Board official said:
“It is an out and out political statement from the President of the BCCI. We are disappointed as we have been trying hard for a long time now to normalize cricket ties with India and we have always believed in keeping sports and politics apart.”
In another news report, sources within the PCB revealed that they do not take Thakur’s tirades seriously.
“If they really don’t want to play Pakistan at all would they be willing to forfeit the match against us in next year’s Champions Trophy. No changes can be made now so what is the purpose of such statements except to play to the galleries.
…But for public consumption he (Thakur) gives different statements.”
Were the UN to declare Pakistan a sponsor of terror and impose sanctions, then it’s possible that sporting bodies across the world could declare it ‘persona non grata’, much like South Africa was for its heinous policy of apartheid.
But until then, it’s downright foolish to expect to be able to avoid Pakistan in multilateral contests.
At the same time, to simply claim that sports and politics shouldn’t mix is being naïve in this age of realpolitik.
Sports is a metaphor for war without weapons or bloodshed.
It is also a vehicle for peace such as when the Pakistani premier visited India for the crucial quarter-final encounter during the 2011 World Cup paving the way for resuming cricketing ties even if it was short-lived.
The issue at hand is complex. Simplistic statements from the BCCI chief muddy the waters especially when he must and should know better.
While the Supreme Court continues to flay the BCCI and its associate members for dragging their feet on the Lodha Panel reforms, it has gone quiet on the Western front specifically the CARICOM coast.
It’s been a time of jubilation and turmoil for West Indian cricket.
The Calypso swingers under Darren Sammy uncorked an unprecedented second T20 World Cup win in astounding fashion with Carlos Brathwaite proving an unlikely hero. Their women’s team had the very same afternoon clinched their first ever World Cup in any form of the game.
Sammy , ever the team champion, utilized the occasion to roundly castigate the West Indian Cricket Board (WICB) for its step-motherly treatment of the players.
“We started this journey … we all know we had … people were wondering whether we would play this tournament. We had a lot of issues, we felt disrespected by our board, Mark Nicholas described our team as a team with no brains. All these things before the tournament just brought this team together.”
The WICB President David Cameron was quick to respond.
In a statement purportedly praising the World T20 organisers India and Bangladesh, Cameron said:
“The President would like to however apologise for what could be deemed inappropriate comments made by the West Indies’ male captain, Darren Sammy, in a post-match interview and would like to apologise on behalf of the WICB to the millions of fans who witnessed. The President has pledged to enquire the reason and will have the matter addressed.”
He had earlier tweeted:
The ICC would later join the WICB in reprimanding Darren Sammy and his teammates for their comments that were “”inappropriate, disrespectful and [bringing] the event into disrepute.”
The ICC press release read:
“The board considered the behaviour of some of the West Indies players in the immediate aftermath of the final, and unanimously agreed that certain comments and actions were inappropriate, disrespectful and brought the event into disrepute.
This was not acceptable conduct at ICC events played out on a world stage in front of millions of people around the globe.
The board acknowledged an apology by the WICB but was disappointed to note that such behaviour had detracted from the success of what was otherwise a magnificent tournament and final.”
Flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The gloss of the glorious treble of the U-19 World Cup, Women and Men’s T20 triumphs was wearing off quickly.
It wasn’t all rocky ground for West Indian cricket.
The newly minted BCCI and ICC head Shashank Manohar has been in an expansive mood notwithstanding the BCCI’s travails in the Supreme Court.
The Vidarbha lawyer first stated that he’s not in agreement with the ICC revenue-sharing formula wherein the Big Three—India, England and Australia—share the spoils and the leftovers distributed among the rest of the members.
Then the BCCI announced that bilateral ties between India and the West Indies would resume later this year. The cash-rich Indian body waived a $42 million damages claim against the abandoned 2014 tour. The West Indian cricketers flew home after the WIPA and WICB failed to resolve a long-standing pay dispute.
Late last year, the CARICOM cricket review panel suggested an immediate dissolution of the WICB. The panel was constituted by the Prime Ministerial Committee on the Governance of West Indies Cricket as a response to the crisis created by the damages slapped on the WICB following the pull-out from the India tour.
The panel recommended formation of an interim board to install a fresh governance framework with the assistance of a change management expert.
The WICB rejected the report and its findings unilaterally claiming that none of the members of the board were consulted by the panel members.
Legends of the game were not so forgiving. Coming together under the banner Cricket Legends, Garry Sobers, Viv Richards, Wes Hall, Andy Roberts and others met with Grenada premier Keith Mitchell, chairman of the Prime Ministerial Committee on the Governance of West Indies Cricket and sought the WICB’s termination.
That’s how the matter rests for now.
The following column will pore over specific recommendations from the panel and the WICB’s reasons for rejecting their proposals.
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.
“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 (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.)
“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.
Supreme justice for N Srinivasan.
What they said:
“Individuals are birds of passage while institutions are forever.”
The Supreme Court bench of Justices T S Thakur and F M I Kalifulla read N Srinivasan his rights in a ruling that effectively prevents him contesting for the BCCI top post.
The judges ruled out any person having a commercial interest in BCCI events from being a part of the governing body. Srinivasan has a controlling interest in Chennai Super Kings, an IPL team.
“The BCCI is a very important institution that discharges important public functions. Demands of institutional integrity are, therefore, heavy and need to be met suitably in larger public interest. Individuals are birds of passage while institutions are forever.
The expectations of the millions of cricket lovers in particular and public at large in general have lowered considerably the threshold of tolerance for any mischief, wrong doing or corrupt practices which ought to be weeded out of the system.”
What they really meant:
“…birds of passage…..And your time is past, Mr. Srinivasan. You are not the BCCI and the BCCI is not you.”
What they definitely didn’t:
“Could we have a couple of freebies to the CSK games, Mr. Srinivasan, please?”
Saqlain Mushtaq is on terra firma with regards to the art of spin bowling.
What he said:
“Why not? A person is made of this earth, which has not been discovered completely yet.”
Saqlain Mushtaq is confident that the doosra—the off-spinner’s googly—can be bowled legally without flexing one’s elbow beyond the stipulated limit of 15 degrees permitted by the ICC.
“I have always believed you can definitely bowl it with a legitimate action, working on various aspects of your body. You can bowl the doosra with your fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulder and you can even get it right with your foot positioning. Every individual has his own physique. If you don’t have strong shoulders you can execute it through you wrist and fingers and use elbow to bowl a faster one. In either case you have to have strong control over your wrist and ensure it doesn’t collapse. And without the kink you can safely bowl a doosra within the permitted flex.”
Mushtaq additionally believes that a new mystery ball can always be devised and added to the craft of spin bowling.
“Why not? A person is made of this earth, which has not been discovered completely yet. So when you start thinking and start experiencing deeply, then you start experimenting. And then what you produce, that is a real invention.”
What he really meant:
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust and God created man from clay. The earth and specially the seas have not been fully explored. And who knows what elements may still be discovered? Necessity is the mother of invention. We sub-continental chaps are about jugaad, my friend. We’ll make do somehow, 15 degrees or less.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“And Muttiah Muralidharan is made of plasticine.”
Waqar Younis was unprepared for crackdown.
What he said:
“This crackdown is going to affect the preparations of teams for the World Cup especially those teams whose bowlers are being reported.”
Former Pakistani pace bowler Waqar Younis believes that the timing of the clampdown on suspect bowling actions is inopportune and adversely affects the World Cup chances of the teams whose bowlers have been reported, specifically his country’s.
“I am not sure about the timing of these new laws being enforced by the ICC. The new protocols and technology to test bowling actions could have been done after the World Cup.”
Three Pakistani off-spinners—Saeed Ajmal, Muhamad Hafeez and Adnan Rasool—have been placed under the scanner in the past month.
“When bowlers are reported at any level for suspect actions it obviously affects their confidence. I know Hafeez is concerned after being reported. So it does affect your preparations for the World Cup.
I don’t know because cricket has changed in the last decade or so, laws have changed and so have bowling actions. Spinners now use more variation and different deliveries because they are being tested constantly in all formats with the growing popularity of T20 cricket.
One can understand when the ICC rule for bowling action is being stretched so far but I still have my reservations about the timing of the new protocol for bowling actions.”
On the doosra:
“The doosra delivery is an unorthodox delivery but staple for spinners and it adds value to the game. I think the ICC needs to look at this aspect. Whoever bowls the doosra will always bend his elbow more than the allowed 15 degrees because it is natural. Secondly the medical aspect while testing bowling actions should also be taken into consideration.”
What Younis really meant:
“The Pakistanis are losing their match-winning spinners because of the crackdown. What are we to do if the ball we invented—the doosra—is outlawed? Play marbles?”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Let’s hope this whole affair reverse swings.”
What he said:
A fake Quinton De Kock Twitter account was in the news with leading dailies attributing the above tweet to the chubby-faced South African opening bat.
Saeed Ajmal has been banned with immediate effect from all international cricket after his bowling action was deemed illegitimate by the ICC.
Bio-mechanic analysis revealed the the Pakistani off-spinner flexed his elbow as much as 35 degrees against the permitted 15 degrees.
The bowler can apply for a reassessment anytime once his action has been rectified. However, he is permitted to take part in domestic cricket under the supervision of his country’s cricketing board, the PCB.
Maninder Singh, a former India left-arm spinner, squarely blamed the ICC for the current mess.
“”The problem started with Muralitharan. The menace should have been stopped then. If that had happened, all boards would have taken steps to prevent this.Now it (chucking) has become a norm, it is like ‘if he (Murali) can do it, anyone can’.”
On young bowlers choosing the wrong role models:
“This has ruined careers. Whether you call it 12 or 15 degrees, it is to be blamed.”
On why English and Australian bowlers are not called that often:
“People there are basically honest, and they will own up. We don’t, and in fact start backing them.”
Former India all-rounder Madan Lal said:
“”Even in my academy, so many boys bend their elbows. They see lot of cricket on TV and try to imitate them. It gets difficult to correct them once they are set in their ways.”
English: Saeed Ajmal in the field during a 50-over warm-up match against Somerset at the County Ground, Taunton, during Pakistan’s 2010 tour of England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Saeed Ajmal’s reactions:
“It is disappointing to learn the result of the biomechanic test in Brisbane but I have not given up. I don’t see the ban as a major problem as I know I can work out on the flaws and make a comeback.
Obviously, I have to follow their advice but from what I know is that once we get the full medical report, we have a right of appeal and to challenge these findings.
I want to play in the World Cup and see my country doing well and I will do whatever it takes to be ready for the tournament. I am a fighter and I know what I have to do to get back into international cricket before the World Cup.”
Bishan Singh Bedi tweeted:
Speaking to the Times of India, Bedi said:
“”It was inevitable. But it’s a decision taken too late, when all the damage has been done and Ajmal has taken so many wickets in international cricket.
What was the ICC doing till now? All those batsmen who lost their wickets to him, all those teams which lost a game because of an Ajmal spell, should they now come forward and say we have been wronged? If they can’t, then what is the point of rehabilitating these bowlers.”
“Most people who claim to be mystery spinners enjoy an unfair advantage because they are being allowed to bowl illegal deliveries.What is the point of correcting their action in a laboratory and then letting them loose? Is the ICC a reformatory school? A chucker cannot reform. He is merely rendered ineffective.”
What the Fake Quinton De Kock really meant:
“Saeed Ajmal can’t bowl! Saeed Ajmal can’t bowl! With or without his 35 degrees of hyper extension…Ajmal can’t bowl…”
What he definitely didn’t (or did he?) :
“I’m famous, not Quinton De Kock.”
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has ruled that from July 2011 onwards, all men players are to wear sleeveless Tees and shorts while representing their sides on the cricket field.
The rules apply across the board and are applicable for international as well as domestic games.
It is the ICC’s desire to make the sport ‘more attractive and presentable’ to the Rest of The World.