Stuart Binny

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Why isn’t recusal good enough for Roger Binny’s conflict of interest?


Is Shashank Manohar going too far with his conflict of interest reforms?

South Zone selector Roger Binny is under the hammer.

The proposed 29-point-agenda foresees serving notice to selectors who have financial or business interests with players.

Stuart Binny, Roger’s son, is currently a contender for the ODI and Test sides.

He enjoys the support of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli.

Binny Sr. has always recused himself from committee deliberations whenever his son’s case came up.

A senior BCCI official, speaking to Times of India, said:

“I believe he should step down from his post. His work as national selector has been impeccable but with Stuart part of the Indian team, the ‘conflict of interest’ issue might come up in different quarters.

The board is planning to implement the points suggested by Manohar into its constitution and if and when it is done, Roger’s position may directly be in conflict.The rest of the selectors still have one more year on their term and may be asked to continue.”

The precedent cited is that of Manohar’s son Adwait stepping down from his positions in the BCCI soon after his dad took over the board to avoid any conflict of interest.

BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhary said:

“The points made by the president are only suggestions at the moment, which will come up for discussion at the AGM. If the consensus in the board is on incorporating some of these points into the constitution, it’ll be done.

However, regarding conflict of interest over Roger, we are not part of the selection meetings and don’t know if Roger is present when his son’s name comes up for discussion. So it’s very difficult to prove a conflict in this case.”

The said requirements are way too stringent.

What the BCCI seems to imply is that an ex-cricketer can be a selector as long as his relatives are not competing for a spot in any of the sides the national selectors oversee.

Once his relatives are serious challengers, out goes the selector!

The practice of recusal is well-known and is often used to address a perceived conflict of interest.

To provide an analogy:

A university professor whose son or daughter were students in his or her class would not be stopped from teaching their class.

He or she would however not be allowed to set examination papers or mark results of the entire class.

The above is an example of recusal at its simplest.

It is the principle that ought to be applied to conflict of interest issues with national selectors when the reasons why they are in contravention are filial.

Conflict of interest issues, such as above, could be handled on a case-by-case basis.

The rules follow the principles and not vice-versa.

Shashank Manohar is inclined towards a stricter interpretation of the law. Even a perceived conflict of interest is to be summarily dealt with.

An India player is worth much more on the IPL auction block than a junior or Ranji cricketer.

Follow this thread of thought and you’ll understand the reasoning behind the latest BCCI thrust.

The law can be an ass sometimes and a stricter law a bigger ass.

Are the proposed diktats practical given the current dispensation where administrators and ex-cricketers have their fingers in more than one pie?

Can the BCCI attract enough ex-sportspersons to keep its machinery going?

Its pockets are deep enough.

Stuart Binny: Somebody’s son, somebody’s spouse


It must not be easy being Stuart Binny.

His father, Roger Michael Humphrey, was a member of the 1983 World Cup winning squad. He claimed 18 wickets at the Prudential Cup in England, arguably Team India’s greatest overseas triumph, and 17 at the epochal World Series Championship in 1985. He played 27 Tests accumulating five 50s and bagging 47 wickets.

He was the first Anglo-Indian to play for the country. He is now a national selector.

Stuart’s wife, Mayanti Langer, is a TV sports journalist with Star. The daughter of an army-man, Lt. General Sanjiv Langer, she is a BA (Hons) graduate from Hindu College, University of Delhi.

So who is Stuart Binny?

Roger Binny’s son?

Mayanti Langer’s spouse?

Take your pick.

If you know your cricketing onions, you would have guessed that Stuart is purportedly the answer to every Indian fan’s dreams of a seaming all-rounder in the mould of Kapil Dev or Manoj Prabhakar.

Team India has always been on the lookout for a pacer who can bat as well as he can bowl.

Irfan Pathan was supposed to be the next big thing. But he turned out to be an enigma breaking down more often than playing.

Pathan overshadowed Zaheer Khan in the squad when he turned out in Indian colours. His Test statistics read one ton, nine fifties with a round 100 wickets with seven instances of five wickets or more in an innings and 10 wickets in a match on two occasions. All this in 29 games.

He is described as one of the lost boys of Indian cricket by Shashi Tharoor in an article for Cricinfo.

Tharoor writes:

“Of contemporary cricketers, at least two seem in danger of adding their names to this tragically distinguished list. No one who saw Irfan Pathan swinging India to victory in the one-day series in Pakistan in 2003-04, or taking a hat-trick against the same team two years later, or scoring a century against them the year after that, or winning the Man of the Match in a Test in Australia and in the final of the inaugural World Twenty20 tournament in South Africa, would imagine that he could be washed up at 25. And yet he is deemed to have lost his mojo to the point where he is not even in the frame for selection for the 2011 World Cup.”

Bhuvaneshwar Kumar with his gentle medium-pace swing and combative batting promised to be the all-rounder Indian cricket deserves. But he, too, has been plagued by injuries and finds himself waging a comeback battle against the odds.

Binny, however, leads a charmed life.

Selected to be a member of the 2015 ODI World Cup, whence his father famously recused himself when his name came up for discussion, Binny was one of the rebels who joined the Indian Cricket League (ICL) in 2007. He returned to the BCCI fold after two seasons and is now with the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.  He surprisingly has the best figures for an Indian in ODI cricket—6-4 against Bangladesh.

Binny did not feature in a single game in the World Cup and was distinctly lucky to be recalled for India’s recent tour of Sri Lanka. India sealed the Test series 2-1 winning the last two matches. Binny did not play the first game but was swapped in for Harbhajan Singh in the latter two.

Roger and Stuart are only the fourth father-son pair to represent their country in World Cup cricket. The other three are Lance and Chris Cairns (New Zealand), Don and Derek Pringle and Chris and Stuart Broad (England).

Binny has a chance to make sure of his spot as a bowling all-rounder in the upcoming series against South Africa. He is a part of both the ODI and T20 squads.

The 31-year-old believes that he can only improve with more international outings.

He said:

“As Virat (Kohli) said, if I get more opportunities, I would get better – that’s very much true. It is not only more opportunities one gets, but also off-field preparations, that helps. International cricket is a lot of mental pressure. It is about dealing with situations which you have faced in Ranji Trophy, but it is on a much larger and bigger scale, so you have to go out and do the same in international cricket as well. I haven’t made too many changes when it comes to skill work, but I have made lot of changes when it comes to my game in my head.”

Binny’s romance with Mayanti Langer has been compared to the Iker Casillas-Sara Carbonero pairing. The Spanish TV journalist followed her beau during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Langer ,too, was around during this year’s ODI World Cup in New Zealand and Australia. Langer, however, was much too busy with her role to have time for her husband.

She said:

“Anchoring is now my career and I am ready to give my hundred percent for the job. Stuart is a pro while I am a professional presenter, too. Our jobs do not overlap. He is doing his job for the team while I am doing mine. There is no time even to think of doing something else, the job is so intriguing.I have a specific job to present shows. I am a member of the broadcasting company and thinking about the job assigned to me only. He is doing the same for his team, I know. It’s a huge event back in India, the ICC World Cup. I have to be ready always.”

Langer added that live anchoring is a tough job and one has to think on one’s feet.

“You are doing the job as an anchor and commenting on a particular match, but you need to know what is going around the tournament, too. You may try to be as well prepared as well before the match, but unless you know what’s happening round the corner, you cannot excel. Neither you can win hearts of the viewers then.”

Mayanti began her career as a football correspondent. She was a soccer player while in school.

She believes that she’s an original. Ask her about ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ and she’s quick to retort that she began much before that.

Is Mayanti Stuart’s lucky charm? They married in 2012 and Stuart’s career post the honeymoon has been on the upswing.

But it’s for Stuart to change the perception that he’s not just Roger’s son and Mayanti’s husband.

Will there come a time when they will be Stuart’s pater and better half respectively instead?

The forthcoming series against South Africa at home just might settle the issue.

The Big Test: Post-mortem analysis


The carcass that is Indian cricket is laid out on the coroner’s slab. The post-mortem begins afresh.

It all seems to be an exercise in futility.

Every serious Indian cricket lover, ex-cricketer, administrator or even current cricketer knows what ails Indian cricket. But not one wants to make a concrete effort to alter the status quo.

The ‘chalta hai’ attitude comes to the fore.

All this will change when we play in India on our dust-bowls” is the constant refrain.

And that is how it has panned out. The die-hard fans are consoled by wins eked out at home in conditions that suit flat-track bullies.

And the sponsors are happy all over again and our cricketers are worshiped as demigods once more.

What is wrong with Indian cricket?

Why are our players “Lions at home, lambs abroad”?

It is a combination of several factors.

There exists a paucity of quality fast bowlers to take advantage of conditions abroad because Indian pitches do not encourage them. They prefer to be medium fast rather than bowl their hearts out with little reward.

Diagram showing the correct grip for bowling a...

Diagram showing the correct grip for bowling a fast ball in cricket. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Except for Mohali, there are very few pitches that offer the fast bowler any help. It is time that the BCCI drew up a plan to create sporting pitches that will dot all the Test venues in India. It should be a mandate dictated from the top.

Imran Khan wished his team to win abroad and at home in all conditions. He institutionalized a culture of encouraging raw pace as well as facilitated  pacy wickets on the north-west Indian sub-continent.

There are no excuse for saying that it cannot be done. Look due north to our ‘Pathan’  neighbours for inspiration.

Fast, bouncy wickets at home would also make sure that our batters adapt quickly to English, Australian or South African ones.

Secondly, the Indian team selection especially for overseas tours has to be such that core players are constantly challenged by the fringe ones. No one should be allowed to rest on their laurels. A place in the side has to be constantly earned. There should be no passengers in the chosen 16.

Fast bowlers should be groomed and rotated so that they do not succumb to injuries.

Additionally, certain batsmen and bowlers with special or limited skills should be set aside for a specific format. You would expect a Ravindra Jadeja or a Stuart Binny to be a useful asset in one-dayers or T-20s. But expecting them to play stellar roles in Tests is wishful thinking. Similarly, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma are well-suited for Test cricket only.

A system that rewards format specialists is the need of the hour. The BCCI could look into that.

Yes, the Indian team would do better if they had all-rounders in the side. But the unfortunate truth is there is none of the calibre of a Kapil Dev or even a Manoj Prabhakar. The cupboard is bare.

The Indian Test team is thus better off with six front-line batsmen and five strike bowlers.

The series in Australia will show if the lessons learned from the unmitigated disaster in England have been absorbed.

If not, the Indian cricket fan can expect his cup of woe to overflow. Certainly not a good augury for the World Cup to follow!

The Big Test: India fail at Southampton, options for Old Trafford


It was the same old story all over again. Ishant Sharma, the hero of the Lords test, looked on dejectedly, while his teammates squandered all his hard work and repaid him with a Sisyphean task for the final Test—if it comes to that.

Sharma injured his ankle and will be sitting out the fourth Test as well.

His replacement, Pankaj Singh, proved to be an inadequate replacement. His time is past though he is a game trier.  A few chances of this bowling went a begging  but if Dhoni was brave and honest with himself, he would have admitted that Varun Aaron or Ishwar Pandey were better bets. You do not replace your main strike bowler with a medium-pace trundler.

Rohit Sharma’s entry into the squad in place of Stuart Binny upset the balance of the squad. Just four main bowlers and two-three part-time spinners is hardly the recipe for a side looking to seal the series.

The Indian skipper does not have a lot of trust in his top order and preferred to either go in with an extra batsman or a couple of all-rounders. This decision seemed sound in the first two tests in retrospect; it was the lower order that saved the team blushes in the first three innings.

It is time MS Dhoni had a hard look at his resources and what he’s trying to do with them.

Gautam Gambhir should come in. Shikhar Dhawan exits.

Gambhir has the gumption and the patience to play long innings. Bring to mind his effort at Napier, New Zealand in 2009.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli stay. Class will tell.

Rohit Sharma goes out. The talented Mumbaikar has even his most ardent fans tearing their hair out in frustration; I am but one amongst them. Duncan Fletcher should have a quiet word with the young man and tell him  that if this continues he will be touring a lot more—with the India ‘A’ side.

Dhoni continues and should back himself to the hilt about being aggressive with the bat.

At the start of the series, Dhoni said:

“I’ve realised that I have to be far more aggressive in my batting because I play much better that way than when I try to play like a proper batsman. It’s important to back your instincts and not think too much about the situation. I shouldn’t look to bat out time because there are other batsmen who can do that. If the ball is in my slot – whether it’s the first or the last – I should go for it.”

Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay have done more than enough to silence all debate.

They were not the most heralded of the Indian bats when the series began. But they have quietly become the mainstays of the line-up.

Ravindra Jadeja, bat and moustache twirled, sits out. Ravichandra Ashwin comes in.

(How the selectors could overlook Amit Mishra and Praghyan Ojha for such an important series is anybody’s guess. Among the back-ups, are two wicket-keepers who may probably never get a game. It is effectively a 15-member squad.)

Varun Aaron and Ishwar Pandey lend much-needed support to Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami.

My side for Old Trafford:

Gautam Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, B Kumar, M Shami, V Aaron and I Pandey.

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