MS Dhoni has shown yet again that he does not need to say a word and yet can succeed in training the spotlight on something that is apparently very close to his heart. By sporting a pair of wicket-keeping gloves bearing a logo similar to the badge of honour given to Para Commandos, he has made many in and out of India scroll the net to see what the fuss was all about.
Reports that the ICC General Manager (Strategic Communications) has "requested" the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to ask Dhoni to remove the symbol only added to the number of people scrambling to discover more about the significance of the Balidaan (sacrifice) logo on his gloves, made by a recognised manufacturer of sports equipment.
It should not come as a surprise if the sports brand that makes his wicket-keeping gloves has registered the logo so that Dhoni can wear it without restriction. For, with his vast experience and awareness of the rules, the wicket-keeper would not risk an ICC indictment. It will be interesting to see his response to the situation. It will be a good guess that he has made some pre-emptive move.
It is hard not to recall the time in April 1996 when Howard Gardiner, an ICC match referee from Zimbabwe, sought to pull up Sachin Tendulkar for using a tyre-maker’s logo on his bat when he made a century against Pakistan in the Singer Cup in Padang, Singapore. But the Indian team was able to show that Tendulkar was using a bat-maker’s logo, after all.
If memory serves me right, Tendulkar and the Indian team management were able to get documents faxed from India to show that the tyre-maker had also registered a sports good manufacturing unit. And, Tendulkar was able to retain that logo on his bat till 2009. It will not be far-fetched to visualise the maker of Dhoni’s gloves to also e-mail scanned copies of the design being registered.
Strangely, ICC is said to have requested BCCI to ask Dhoni to remove the logo instead of laying a charge on the wicket-keeper. If the guardians of the rules believed he was infringing them, they should have issued the former India skipper a notice of charge under Article 2 (Notification Procedure) of Appendix 2 to Chapter 19 (Clothing & Equipment) in the ICC Playing Handbook.
That ICC reached out to him through a “request” to BCCI is mystifying. There can only be two reasons for such a reaction from the ICC mandarins. One, they were unsure if the glove maker had incorporated the Balidaan logo design. Two, they do not know the rules themselves and hence did not take the steps as prescribed in the rule book.
If indeed, an umpire or the match referee or any member of ICC’s Cricket Operations department has reported this to ICC’s Senior Cricket Operations Manager as an alleged offence, we could get to hear more of this from ICC’s Senior Cricket Operations Manager. After an initial review to determine if Dhoni has a case to answer, a Notice of Charge will have to be issued.
At the moment, we have heard only the ICC General Manager (Strategic Communications) and not a member of the Cricket Operations department. But if the formal process has been kickstarted as laid down by the ICC Playing Handbook, it will be interesting to see how events pan out and the outcome of the drama that has occupied much space on all media.
There have been some references by angry folk to ICC telling Moeen Ali to not wear a wrist band espousing political causes — 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' — and imputing that Dhoni is making a similar mistake. Yet, even if the insignia that Dhoni’s gloves bear are representative of the Para Commandos, it will first have to be determined that it is political, religious or racial.
The onus will be on ICC to prove that the Balidaan insignia on Dhoni’s wicket-keeping gloves is either political or religious or racial in nature. And, if Dhoni or the maker of the pair of gloves is able to show that it has incorporated the logo as its own, ICC’s task will get tougher. We sure live in interesting times.
BCCI, which had taken permission from ICC before the Indian team wore camouflage caps in a one-day international against Australia in Ranchi this year, would do well to ensure that it secures the right clearances for the logos on the equipment that its players use when playing for India in such big-ticket events. That would ensure that the players are not distracted from the cricket.
Be that as it may, it is not unusual for equestrian competitors, drawn from the armed forces, compete in their uniforms. Obviously, it is not possible for cricketers to do that and Dhoni may have found an ingenious way to display his love for Para Commandos, even if he is given a reprimand or has to fork out 25 percent of his match fee as a fine in the process.
Knowing Dhoni, he would be too happy to take a rap on the knuckles, pay a fine and use medical plaster to cover the insignia. He has already made countless Indians search the Internet for the Balidaan badge and read up a bit on the Para Commandos. Any ICC sanction on him would seem a small price to pay for creating so much awareness for the logo and the Para Commandos.