Ravi Shastri (left) and Sunil Gavaskar © Getty Images
Ravi Shastri (left) and Sunil Gavaskar © Getty Images


By Nishad Pai Vaidya


Controversies have the power to mar even the best of moments. The year 2011 witnessed its fair share of controversies. Here are some of those issues that captured our attention and left a bad taste in the mouth:


1. DRS: To use or not to use?


The umpire Decision Review System (DRS) was subjected to a raging debate as financial powerhouse Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) refused to accept it as a standard practice. Throughout the year, there were decisions that supported the argument for the use of the system and then there were others that exposed the fallibility of technology. The England-India series, in particular, highlighted the limitations of the Hot-spot and various dismissals suggested that we are far from a clear-cut system. In the end, technology is man-made and humans are fallible. To expect a human creation to be perfect is unreasonable.


2. Vaseline Controversy


The fall-out of the Hot-spot fiasco resulted in allegations on the use of Vaseline on the edges of the bats. Michael Vaughan, the former England captain accused VVS Laxman of applying Vaseline on his bat so that thin edges would go undetected on the infrared- based technology. The fact that he pointed a finger at a player of the stature of Laxman, whose integrity is unquestionable, raised a furore in the country. Such was the anger at the statements, that the makers of Vaseline started an add campaign highlighting the use of their product. The advertisement was specially addressed to Vaughan and had a cross marked on a bat suggesting that their product wasn’t meant for it.


3. Chris Gayle and WICB dispute


While the West Indies continued to build a young team, their best batsmen, Chris Gayle traveled around the globe hammering bowlers and minting money in the shortest format. Gayle has been out of the West Indies team since the World Cup following a dispute with the top brass of the West Indies Cricket (WICB). Even as the New Year approaches, there are no signs of a settlement as both sides are unwilling to compromise.


4. Vinod Kambli: Digging old graves


Former India cricketer, Vinod Kambli was back in the limelight when he voiced his suspicions on India’s defeat in the 1996 World Cup semi-final. His breakdown on television was dramatic to say the least and it prompted a war of words with the then Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin. Kambli was cornered as several players questioned the timing of his statements. It started a long round of television debates and blame games but in the end, the controversy died its natural death.


5. Shoaib Akhtar: Controversial even in retirement!


Whether he is on or off the field, the former Pakistani paceman doesn’t back away from a controversy. His autobiography, aptly titled “Controversially Yours” was an example of his ability to get into unwanted tussles. The sensational claims and opinions on Indian batsmen, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid raised temperatures of their fans. However, as always, the two star batsmen were dignified as they didn’t think it fit to respond. That in itself was enough to silence Akhtar and probably affect the sales of his book.


6. Shahid Afridi retirement and comeback


Shahid Afridi led Pakistan with fight and valour to take them to the semi finals of the World Cup. However, his hold over the reins didn’t last long as his relationship with coach Waqar Younis took a hit. Unhappy with the management, he announced a conditional retirement at the end of the West Indies tour. When Waqar gave up the top job and Ijaz Butt left the office, Afridi made a sensational comeback against Sri Lanka. The sight of the Pathan with his arms in the air in jubilation still lingers.


7. The Ravi Shastri– Nasser Hussain war of words


As discussed earlier, DRS was an enigma throughout the year. The debate touched a new high when Ravi Shastri and Nasser Hussain argued BCCI’s stand on air during the Nottingham Test between England and India. Hussain called the BCCI’s stance a “disgrace” to which Shastri responded by saying that England were jealous of India’s position in world cricket. The public argument between such respected commentators disappointed fans from both sides and that in itself was a “disgrace.”


8. Shane Warne’s fight with Sanjay Dixit


Shane Warne, the architect of Rajasthan Royals’ fairtytale triumph in the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) didn’t enjoy a good time during the fourth edition. The lowest ebb came when Rajasthan didn’t get the surface they hoped for on their home ground for two games. A furious Warne and the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) secretary Sanjay Dixit had a long verbal duel and there were allegations of Warne abusing the RCA chief. Warne’s outburst attracted a disciplinary proceeding. It was a sad end to Warne’s momentous IPL journey.


9. Anil Kumble’s exit from the National Cricket Academy


Anil Kumble’s resignation from the top job at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) was a sorry development in Indian cricket. Kumble said that his suggestions were not implemented and it led to him putting in his papers. It was sad to see a cricketer of his stature leaving the nursery of future talent-where he may have been a great asset.


10. Gavaskar-Shastri’s BCCI connection


Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri have been television commentators for over a decade. In the aftermath of the Shastri-Hussain tussle, allegations of Gavaskar and Shastri being paid to make pro-BCCI statements surfaced. The allegations were strongly refuted by both of them, but it created quite a stir.


(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 21-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)


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