Bullying and rapping errant cricket boards of other countries is not new for the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI.) They have done it a number of times and achieved unprecedented success and obeisance, too. The Sri Lankans learnt it the hard way; the West Indies paid for it heavily.
All those trying to re-produce the BCCI’s ‘highly successful’ product, the Indian Premier League, were ‘straightened’ out one by one. The methods adopted were never the wisest ones, but they worked, simply because the BCCI has unimaginable amounts of money.
An Indian exit from a tournament can spell disaster for the hosts – as the West Indies learnt when India crashed out of the 2007 World Cup. When India threatens to call off a tour, others boards treble at the thought.
Money makes the mare go and you can add all the cliché’s you want to it. Hey, it’s our money and we will do what we want.
But where does all this money comes from? By and large from the Indian citizens or people of Indian origin, whichever corner of the globe they may be in.
And, forget not, the real chunk of money come from the Indian corporates. No wonder then, when you wake up at 3 am IST to see a match between New Zealand and some other team, the boundary ropes are adorned by adverts from Indian pan masala brands, Indian agarbatti makers, Indian motorcycle manufacturers, Indian mobile comapnies and so on. The common thread is always India.
Simply, because it is the Indian in Tirunelveli, or Dibrugarh or Kolhapur or Bhatinda or wherever, who will get up to see a match between two teams from countries he will never ever visit. Yet, he loves cricket and so he watches. It is on such people that the edifice of Indian cricket is built – he will argue with the guy, who makes his paan on why the ‘new ball’ was taken late or early. He will buy his neighbour a box of sweets when India wins; and curse his beloved son when it loses.
And what happens when the same panwallah and his customer, discover that their favourite game is ‘fixed’ or may have been ‘fixed’. He has been arguing with his best friend on who will win, when the result has ‘already been decided’.
What about the small kiosk-owner, who ekes out a living changing ‘phone batteries’, who cannot get over the joy of his three times removed cousin’s eldest son making it to the district cricket trials? And, then reality returns with the young lad – he was given all of three balls to bowl or face to prove his mettle. And there were so ‘many’ relatives of the officials and coaches that he was never looked at again.
And, yes, for those who did make it – there was another state team at venue – yes, another team from the same state – and the kid had to return back with his cricket whites still spic-and-span, but his heart broken in a hundred pieces.
If all the politicians in Indian cricket – at district, state or national level were brought together at a single venue – my guess is they would outnumber the total number of Parliamentarians we elect every five years. And pray, what business do these gentlemen – I don’t think any woman politician doubles up as a cricket official – have running cricket, when we voted them to run our district, state or country?
The collective authority of our paanwallahs, kiosk owners, students, parents, journalists (yes, them too) and many, many others has never been enough to question the BCCI.
But, "blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth". Some day for sure. They live in the belief, that the good game of cricket, might yet become good – where grounds are fair, selections at all levels are fair, the players are treated like human beings, opponents are respected, where administrators are able, and where politics and politicians is absent; and when the sun shines on the mountains, it won’t be over just a few ‘personally owned’ villas and grounds. And, above all, where the rule of law is the same for all.
Show me a single sports body, that in one single meeting doubles the fees of the sportspersons, and I shall show you Utopia.
Show me a sports body that hikes the largesse in a single meeting, and I will show you a benevolent hostel warden, who without reason gives the students an extra portion of the dessert.
Show me a bully, who does not cries foul when rapped on the knuckles, and I will say, ‘innate understanding of fair and foul in all human beings’.
The weak cry because they can’t fight; but bullies cry, because they know their time is up.
Now that the headmaster has got up, the errant schoolmasters need to stand up and answer. Meanwhile, let the students enjoy and have a laugh, too. For, too long, they have been crying, albeit silently.
It is time for the BCCI to make amends. Admit it; make the changes and move on. No point in spreading misinformation, no point in making empty threats, and no point in fighting a losing battle.
The game did not end with Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement; nor will it die without the current lot of BCCI officials. Cricket will still be cricket.