Undoubtedly, West Indies tour pull out of India was the biggest controversy of the year © IANS (File Photo)
Undoubtedly, West Indies’s pull out from the India tour was the biggest controversy of the year © IANS

The year 2014 was witness to some controversies that rocked the cricket world. While the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 spot-fixing controversy spilled into this year with the Mudgal panel submitting its report, the West Indies pull-out and Big Three takeover were some of the other controversies that hit the cricketing fraternity. Nishad Pai Vaidya picks 12 controversies of 2014.

1. West Indies leave tour to India unfinished

The West Indies players and the board have intermittently clashed over the last decade with contract related issues. When the West Indies arrived on Indian shores, there was some talk about them not ready to take the field going into the first One-Day International (ODI) in Kochi. Wavell Hinds, the chief of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), had signed an agreement with the board, which accorded pay cuts. Even as the first two ODIs took place, a lot had transpired behind the scenes to resolve the issue. During the fourth ODI at Dharamsala, the players put up a show of unity at the toss with the team standing behind skipper Dwayne Bravo. However, during the game it was announced that the players would be heading back. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) were miffed and initiated steps to penalise the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) legally. While the West Indies players returned for the South Africa tour, Bravo was axed as ODI captain and dropped from the side along with Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy.

2. The Big Three takeover

When it came into force, almost unopposed, N Srinivasan took over as the ICC Chairman Getty Images
N Srinivasan took over as the ICC Chairman © Getty Images

For a few years, the balance of power in world cricket has been firmly in India’s grasp considering its financial clout. However, in the year 2014, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) fashioned a takeover of the International Cricket Council (ICC) along with Cricket Australia (CA) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). Christened as the ‘Big Three’, the trio had proposed that the major executive powers will rest with them. Also, the revenue sharing model was reworked with the trio getting the major chunk. This caused a huge debate with many terming it blackmail. When it came into force, almost unopposed, N Srinivasan took over as the ICC Chairman. In many ways, it formalised India’s control over world cricket.

3. Lou Vincent confesses to role in fixing

Lou Vincent had been under investigation for his alleged role in fixing during a few county matches. He was being probed along with former teammate Chris Cairns. On July 1, 2014, Vincent released a chilling video of confession starting with the statement: “My name is Lou Vincent and I am a cheat.” Vincent was immediately banned for life by the ECB. The fact that a major international player made such a confession shocked the cricket world.

4. Mudgal report and subsequent proceedings

There was a lot of drama in store as the Justice Mukul Mudgal-led panel appointed by the Supreme Court. The panel submitted its report in February this year and contained some supposedly shocking details. It is said to have contained some serious allegations against some leading players. At the same time, Srinivasan came under fire during the investigation. Despite the BCCI’s various attempts, he had to step aside before the Indian Premier League (IPL). Mudgal was then asked to initiate a fresh investigation into the controversy. While the BCCI continued to defend its president-in-exile, the Supreme Court maintained a tough stand and was remained unmoved. As of now, the hearings continue with Srinivasan trying his best to wrest back in the BCCI. However, the ICC continues to remain in his firm control.

5. Pushgate

There was a lot of needle between Ravindra Jadeja and James Anderson during the first Test between India and England at Trent Bridge. India alleged that Anderson had pushed Jadeja when the team headed for a break. Meanwhile, England said that it was Jadeja who had charged at him first. It stoked a lot of fire in the series with both sides filing complaints. In the end, both were reprimanded as the matter dragged along for a while. The Jadeja-Anderson showdown saw a rarely-seen side to MS Dhoni, who was quite expressive during one of the press conferences. In the end, Anderson was fired up to deliver and won England the series after they had lost the Lord’s Test.

6. Kevin Pietersen saga

Kevin Pietersen came out with his autobiography which claimed that bullying was rampant in the England dressing room © Getty Images
Kevin Pietersen came out with his autobiography which claimed that bullying was rampant in the England dressing room © Getty Images

It seemed as if the Kevin Pietersen saga would never end through the year 2014. Following a dismal campaign Down Under, Pietersen was axed from the England side with Paul Downton taking control of the management. The South Africa-born batsman was seen as a divisive force in the dressing room. And despite being one of the better players on the Ashes tour, he was shown the door. That paved the way for him to join numerous T20 leagues around the world. However, with England’s struggle continuing through the year, particularly in one-day cricket, calls for getting Pietersen back has intensified. Pietersen then came out with his autobiography which claimed that bullying was rampant in the England dressing room. Both sides were unrelenting and unmoved.

7. Ahmed Shehzad pontificates about religion to Tillakaratne Dilshan

During Pakistan’s tour to Sri Lanka, the outspoken Ahmed Shehzad found himself in trouble over some alleged religious comments to Tillakaratne Dilshan. Shehzad allegedly said, “If you are a non-Muslim and you turn Muslim, no matter whatever you do in your life, straight to Heaven.” What made it controversial was the fact that Dilshan was born a Muslim and converted to Buddhism later in life. However, he didn’t seem to take offence to it, if one goes by the video of the incident. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) also did not file any complaint. The Pakistan authorities however took note of the incident and probed it. Shehzad was reprimanded by the authorities, but wasn’t punished with any fine or ban.

8. Moeen Ali shows support to Gaza

With the conflict in the Middle East raging on, Moeen Ali took the field during the third Test against India in Southampton sporting bands with the words “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine.” The ECB had permitted him to wear them. However, the ICC rules stipulate that one cannot make political statements on the field of play. Thus, they banned him from wearing them. It isn’t often that cricketers make political statements on the field of play. Moeen’s gesture came more than a decade after Henry Olonga and Andy Flower sported black armbands to protest against the Zimbabwean government.

9. Shahid Afridi’s alleged remarks on women’s cricket

In March 2014, an interview Shahid Afridi gave became subject to a lot of controversy. A particular clip from that video had him commenting on women’s cricket in Pakistan, where he said, “Our women have magic in their hands; they are good cooks.” These remarks came under fire and he was accused of being a sexist. Afridi insisted that it was only half the answer. He was quoted by AFP, “I am shocked to listen all the stuff and read some on the social media. It was a five-month old interview and my half answer was put on the net, which I feel is an attempt to malign my popularity.” Afridi maintained that he supports women’s cricket.

10. Kieron Pollard-Mitchell Starc altercation

Kieron Pollard (above) and Mitchell Starc nearly crossed the boundaries during an Indian Premier League (IPL) game © PTI
Kieron Pollard (above) and Mitchell Starc nearly crossed the boundaries during an Indian Premier League (IPL) game © PTI

The odd sledge or the tongue-in-cheek has never harmed proceedings. Even when things got heated, players would stay within their limits. However, Kieron Pollard and Mitchell Starc nearly crossed the boundaries during an Indian Premier League (IPL) game. There was a bit of a needle off the previous ball. With Starc almost about to bowl, Pollard pulled away from the delivery. Instead of stopping, Starc directed the ball towards the batsman. In a fit of rage, Pollard flung his bat in the direction of Starc. It was certainly an ugly sight on the field for a sport that is called the gentleman’s game. Both players were fined for that incident.

11. Sri Lanka nearly pull out of ICC World T20 2014

Sri Lanka lifted the ICC World T20 2014 in Dhaka, bringing to an end a drought in winning world events © IANS
Sri Lanka lifted the ICC World T20 2014 in Dhaka, bringing to an end a drought in winning world events © IANS

Sri Lanka lifted the ICC World T20 2014 in Dhaka, bringing to an end a drought in winning world events. However, that nearly did not happen as a few weeks before their triumph, the players had been involved in a dispute with the board over payment. The players had asked for a 20 percent share in the money Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) gets from the ICC. The dispute raged on in the weeks leading up to the World T20 as there was a chance of a second string Sri Lankan team taking the field. In the end, they graced the field and did their country proud.

12. India unhappy in Brisbane

MS Dhoni voiced his displeasure during the press conference about the poor condition of the practice wicket © Getty Images
MS Dhoni voiced his displeasure during the press conference about the poor condition of the practice wicket © Getty Images

India lost the initiative on Day Three of the Brisbane Test against Australia when they allowed the Australian tail to wag. As they approached Day Four, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli were injured while practicing before start of play. Dhawan could not bat soon and a collapse ensued which put India in a tough spot. It was also later revealed that Ishant Sharma and Suresh Raina had to leave the stadium during lunch to get some vegetarian food, which was not on the menu at The Gabba. Dhoni voiced his displeasure during the press conference about the poor condition of the practice wicket, but said that India could have done a lot better to handle the situation.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45 This article first appeared in CricLife/CricketCountry)