Will the Mumbai Cricket Association, Maharashtra Cricket Association and Vidarbha Cricket Association be merged into one state body?
That’s the loaded question the BCCI hopes to discover answers to when the Lodha Committee make a fresh set of recommendations on January 4 next year.
It is believed that the committee is keen on reducing over-representation from Maharashtra and Gujarat in the BCCI.
Gujarat has three Ranji associations too: Saurashtra Cricket Association, Baroda Cricket Association and Gujarat Cricket Association.
Andhra Pradesh has two but Hyderabad could be assimilated into the new state of Telengana.
These reforms could deal a body blow to Mumbai cricket and its rich traditions.
Mumbai have 40 Ranji victories to their credit in the tourney’s multi-storied history.
The record books indicate 16 Irani Cup, two Vijay Hazare Trophy, five Wills Trophy, and a single Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
The Mumbai cricket team was formed under the Bombay Presidency and continued as part of the Bombay province until independence in 1947 when Bombay became Bombay state.
The formation of Maharashtra led to the assimilation of the city into its boundaries and it was made its capital.
Bombay continued as a separate Ranji team and continues to compete separately from Maharashtra state.
The Vidarbha cricket team was founded in 1957.
The Maharashtra cricket team has two Ranji trophy wins to its credit coming in 1939/40 and 1940/41.
Saurashtra are another side that have clinched the national title winning in 1936-37 and were also runners up in the very next season of 1937-38.
Baroda are five-time victors: 2000-01, 1957-58, 1949-50, 1946-47, and 1942-43.
They were established in 1930.
The Gujarat Cricket Association were founded in 1950.
There are 27 teams in the Ranji set-up.
19 State teams are currently participating in the tournament.
The Lodha Committee may also consider disallowing BCCI officials from holding positions in their state bodies.
This is purportedly to prevent a conflict of interest.
The implementation of this would be interesting—to put it mildly.
The ICC too functions like the BCCI with national cricket association heads elected to the ICC executive.
Similarly, the FIFA executive functions by appointing members from its respective confederations:
What the Lodha Committee suggests is that the BCCI should function like the United Nations with country representatives differing from national heads.
This could be workable only if there are sufficiently experienced administrators available to be elected both at the state and national level.
Is that the case?
Is this an attempt to create more positions and thus more opportunities for both experienced and budding sports administrators within the annals of power within the BCCI and its member associations? That surely is not the mandate of the Lodha committee.
This could also be an ‘insidious’ attempt to bring the BCCI under the purview of the proposed Sports Bill which does not envisage more than three terms for an individual at the helm of any National Sports Federation with a cooling off period after two terms. Presidents are exempted from the cooling off period.
Office bearers are also to retire at 70.
The proposed Sports Bill (in 2013) sought to make the BCCI accountable to the general public by making it liable to respond to Right To Information (RTI) applications about its functioning.
Indranil Basu , reporting for CricBuzz, writes:
“The general belief within the BCCI is that the acumen and experience gained from being part of the board helps the administrators run their state bodies better. It is also believed that staying in the loop would only help streamline the system.
Drawing a parallel with the country’s political system, the board members said that it would create a situation where the ministers serving the government would not be allowed to be a part of the Parliament or legislative bodies. It simply can’t work. Today the board has an asset worth Rs 10,000 crore. In the last six years, the board has paid Rs 100 crore as income tax and gets the country around Rs 400 crore worth of foreign exchange every year. When India won the first World Cup in 1983, the board didn’t have Rs 2 lakh to honour its world champions. We are a professional body and deserve that respect, the official said.”
The most ‘damaging’ reform suggested may be the one that would prevent industrialists and politicians from participating in BCCI politics.
That would really set the cat among the pigeons.
When two former India players almost come to blows on the cricket field with the choicest words exchanged, it makes for headline news.
When the two in question, Gautam Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary, have an acrimonious history, it makes for even greater sensationalism.
Tiwary was dropped by his erstwhile Kolkata Knight Riders colleague and skipper during the 2013 IPL wherein he immediately tweeted that it was the worst day of his life. The offending tweet was later deleted with the current Bengal captain claiming that his account had been hacked.
Tiwary now turns out for Delhi Daredevils.
Last Saturday, the two were once more involved in a public fracas during a Ranji trophy game between Delhi and Bengal at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground.
The incident occurred in the eighth over when Tiwary signaled for his helmet.
The Delhi players were incensed believing it to be a time-wasting tactic.
Manan Sharma, the bowler at the time, had something to say to the Bengal skipper.
Gambhir entered the fray abusing Tiwary who retaliated in kind.
That was when Gambhir calling upon his best Hindi film dialogues said:
“Shaam ko mil tujhe maroonga (Meet me in the evening, I will hit you).”
Tiwary, evidently another Hindi film buff, responded:
“Shaam kya abhi bahar chal (Why wait till evening, let’s go out and settle it now).”
Tempers were raised further with Gambhir charging towards the batsman with umpire Krishnaraj Srinath intervening only to be pushed away by the pugnacious left-hander.
The players were later summoned by match referee Valmik Buch.
“I have huge respect for Gambhir for whatever he has done for the country. But today, he crossed all limits by making some personal comments. I was really shocked to hear that. I did not start it at all.”
Gambhir, too, issued a statement:
“At no point did I threaten or push any on-field umpires. Nor did I threaten to beat Manoj up. In fact, I attended match referee’s hearing post the day’s play where he accepted that he doesn’t have any video evidence of me pushing the umpire. On the contrary, the match referee conceded he had video evidence where Manoj is seen pushing Pradeep Sangwan.”
Buch fined Gambhir 70% of his match fee and Tiwary, 40%.
“Obviously they were pressurising me but that does not mean he has the right to abuse me. What I said, sledging in a competitive way is good but you don’t have to sledge taking your father or mother’s name. You don’t want to cross line when you play competitive game.
I spoke to him [Ganguly] and told him about the whole incident. He was very upset because, somewhere his name was also raised.”
Tiwary also took to Twitter—obviously— to proclaim his side of the story.
The Bengal skipper has since upped the ante claiming that Gambhir made racist (read parochial) remarks against Sourav Ganguly and Bengalis, in particular.
“He made racist remarks about Sourav Ganguly and Bengalis. I spoke to Sourav Ganguly and he is very upset that his name has been dragged in the matter. We will never accept anything against Sourav Ganguly.”
“Gautam Gambhir is not saying the truth. If I had done what Gambhir is saying why have I been fined 40 percent and him 70 percent.”
Gambhir may be facing a ban because he shoved aside the umpire Srinath. Cricket is a non-contact sport and simply touching an umpire physically invites censure.
The Delhi skipper released another statement defending himself from Tiwary’s latest allegations.
“On Sunday, Manoj Tiwary stooped to a new low by claiming that I made racist remarks about Bengali community and my favourite India captain and one of the best cricketers I have played under Mr Sourav Ganguly whom I fondly call Dada. Let me categorically state here that these allegations are baseless and Tiwary’s way of sensationalising things through his figment of imagination.
First of all I am a proud Indian who respects all religions, communities and sexes. Then, ever since I have had the honour of leading Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL I have been humbled by the love and affection showered on my team and me by Bengali community. I have said in numerous interviews that Bengal is my second home and the support of the fans is the biggest X factor for KKR. I can’t thank them enough for helping us win IPL title twice.”
“Dada taught Indian cricket to play aggressive brand of cricket and modelled the team to win outside India. His contribution to Indian cricket is unparalleled. Personally, I made my India debut under Dada’s leadership and can never forget the way he eased me into the team dressing room. Besides, I have picked up a lot of things from Dada’s leadership ways and put them in practise for KKR. It is unfortunate that Dada’s name was dragged in by Tiwary perhaps to gain cheap publicity.”
The media is always seeking sound bytes aside from the mandatory tweeted reactions from fans and websites.
Bishan Singh Bedi promptly obliged.
The inimitable Sardar said:
“This is a direct result of the IPL because of the competitive nature that tournament lends itself to for these so-called professionals.
I feel sick. I watched the TV report and this is absolutely shameful. There’s too much of this ‘giving it back’ attitude. All this while it was about giving it back to foreign teams. Now, this syndrome is creeping into the Indian scene. Give back something sane, not insane. And give back something good to the game that has made you professionals.”
“Look, fines are like loose change for these cricketers. You’ve got to ban them for a few games and hit them where it hurts. The ball is entirely in BCCI’s court.
They need to take to drastic steps to ensure such incidents are not repeated. This is awful for the game of cricket. Erring players must be put on the mat. They call themselves professionals. Does professionalism entail such behaviour? We have been too lenient with our big names. This is not the first time Gambhir is involved in controversy like this.”
There may be a bright side to this whole skirmish.
Just when interest in the domestic game is dying out, the passion exhibited by these senior cricketers simply proves the competitiveness of their nature and the intensity of rivalry at the state level.
There is hope yet and fears of spot or match fixing may be ungrounded in these games. (We hope).
That, of course, is not the point readers and young cricketers wish to take away from the sorry episode.
Shyama Dasgupta, in the Economic Times, writes:
“Firstly, about the attitude of the star players–internationals-towards the other players. A `big’ player will usually play domestic fixtures either because there are no assignments or because he has been dropped. It’s one thing for someone who has played just a game or two for India, but for someone to have played at the highest level with some distinction, the step down is a tough one.
They often expect, and get, star treatment from their state associations and from everyone else. It can get quite feudal, says a former cricketer. Another, also a commentator, uses the word aukaat. Worth. To mean that the stars don’t think of players junior to them as being worthy of being peers. Except, that is exactly what they are: members of the same team, playing at the same level.
Then, about the attitude of star players towards umpires and vice versa. Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of stories of bullying and of being bullied.
A senior colleague had once told me about a veteran international umpire who gave tailenders in the domestic circuit out if there was even a whiff of an appeal-what, you are going to score 100 runs or what, he is known to have told an upstart of a No 11 when there was a protest. It’s fair to assume this No 11 wasn’t an international or a former international. Sure, there are umpires who don’t back down in the face of bullying, but there are likely as many who can’t.
These things, the cricketers I spoke to agreed, just haven’t changed. Two of them–former internationals–admitted to having done the same thing in their playing days as well.”
Cricket is termed a gentleman’s game but the only true gentlemen on the field are probably the umpires.
What he said:
“But we shouldn’t leave so much grass where even a 120-kph bowler appears like Malcolm Marshall.”
Indian team discard and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh is critical of the BCCI policy to provide green-top wickets for the ongoing Ranji trophy.
“Our wickets make such bowlers look unplayable. Some of these bowlers end up picking 50 wickets in a season. So you can’t ignore them. When such a bowler is picked for international cricket, he gets exposed while bowling on a slightly drier surface. The ball doesn’t reach the batsman.”
“I feel the wicket should offer help to pacers on the first morning but it shouldn’t get bowlers into a mindset that ‘waah, toss jeet gaye, ab toh mera hi din hai [wow, we have won the toss. Now it is my day]’. There should be help for bowlers but if a batsman applies himself he should also be able to score big. And on the fourth-fifth days, spinners should come into play.
Play on a sporting wicket but don’t play on a wicket where ordinary bowlers are made to look terrorizing. It doesn’t help. We are not taking the game anywhere. You are giving fake confidence to bowlers. Anybody can bowl on such wickets. It is like on a rank turner, anybody can take wickets. Similarly, any seamer who can swing the ball a bit and bowls a good line and length will do well on such tops. But to make it challenging, you have to make the conditions change just like it happens in Test cricket.”
What he really meant:
“It was alright when we had spinning wickets on the first day for home Tests, and we spinners could corner all the wickets. The fast bowlers would just take the shine off the ball. But this means the boot is on the other foot and I can’t kick unshod. Besides, how am I to make the World Cup squad if I can’t get anyone out?”
What he definitely didn’t:
“The additional bounce suits me just fine. My kind of bowling relies less on turn and more on upward trajectory.”
What he really meant:
“Glamour, girls and Gayle, that’s what the IPL is all about.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Take away the cricketers and we’ll still have an IPL.”
The 10th ICC ODI World Cup features 14 teams. Of these, only six to eight teams have a realistic chance of winning the cup.
Discerning followers of the game have short-listed five teams to lift the trophy—India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, England and Australia.
Sourav Ganguly has retired from international cricket.
Sourav Ganguly has not retired from international cricket.
Sourav Ganguly wishes to play in the IPL.
Sourav Ganguly cannot play in the IPL.
Sourav Ganguly will play in the Ranji trophy.
Sourav Ganguly will play for Bengal only if he can play in the IPL.
Sourav Ganguly will play domestic cricket to stay fit for the IPL.
Sourav Ganguly is not confused.
If you don’t like the bracket you’re in, you can re-slot yourself in a higher one. That’s the message Saurav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble have sent out. The four were initially categorised into the 200,000 USD fold. IPL rules allow players to increase their base price and the members of the Fab Five (Tendulkar is the fifth) have chosen to do so.
None of the four were retained by their teams. Speculation as to why the four were not in the initial top bracket is useless. The IPL has done little to enhance reputations. VVS Laxman has struggled, Ganguly shone amidst his team’s inconsistency and Dravid is just coming to terms with T20 cricket.
The BCCI have been roundly criticised for their decision to abstain from the 16th Asian Games at Guangzhou. India are the only major Asian cricketing superpower to not send a team. Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have squads representing their respective countries.
The BCCI bailed out claiming that they did not want to send a second string team since the Games clashed with the India – New Zealand Test and ODI series. The Ranji trophy is also scheduled around the same time—sending a team would rob the tournament of it’s sheen.
Dhoni may be the Indian cricketer with the most endorsements but Tendulkar makes more money per deal than the Indian captain. Dhoni boasts of a Rs. 180 crore deal and has over 20 brands in his portfolio.
Tendulkar has fourteen endorsements and charges around Rs. 6 – Rs. 7 crores per client. Tendulkar has always been selective about his clientele — the number of brands endorsed hovers around twelve to fifteen at a time.
Contrast this to Saina Nehwal’s recent hike in her price from Rs. 50 lakhs to a high of a crore and you can see the yawning difference in how other sports stars are treated in this country.
Keep in mind that cricket has just ten Test playing nations. It’s not quite cricket, is it?