A famous rockstar once quipped, most likely not in complete earnest, “Right now, we are bigger than God.” It was not long before he was handed the ultimate ‘punishment’. He may have committed no mistake, but the BCCI has made a fair few and it would be wise to take heed of the fate reserved for high handedness. For, judging by its latest step, it appears as if people in the BCCI think they are bigger than cricket.
Call me a cynic, but once again it looks like an incident of considerable significance will pass by without much ado because it would be politically incorrect to play it up. Or, maybe, the news is yet to truly catch fire. At the time of writing, its night on Saturday and maybe the Sunday morning papers will make merry with it. At any rate, it has been reported that BCCI will not spare its players for the Australian Big Bash Twenty 20 league. Reason being, it clashes with India’s domestic cricket season.
Ladies and gentlemen, kindly take notice of that. I never knew that the BCCI cared so much about Ranji Trophy! Aside from that heart-warming aspect, it is a contradictory stand. Advocates of the IPL have defended the alleged mercenaries it has spawned like Andrew Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen, Dirk Nannes among others on the grounds that a player has a short shelf life and should be allowed to pursue what few commercial avenues accrue to him, especially if they don’t regularly represent the international team.
Not an argument without merit. In that case, Indian domestic players and internationals should also be allowed to pursue offers to play in the domestic leagues of other cricket playing nations. The Big Bash league has the official sanction of Cricket Australia, just like the IPL. Bear in mind also that it’s ONLY domestic commitments that Indian players would be unable to meet if they head to Big Bash and NOT international matches. At least, if I understood the 2011 international calendar properly.
If we add up the equation, it indicates that IPL is more important than international fixtures in other nations but the Indian domestic season is more important than an Australian T20 league!
There have been allegations that Lasith Malinga retired from Test cricket so that the Sri Lankan cricket board would not be able to stop him from playing in the IPL. Those are somewhat uncharitable allegations, but the ‘crime’ proposed to be committed by Indian cricketers is far less serious in comparison. It could be argued that a season or two of Big Bash would give them international exposure they may never get and help them develop as cricketers.
Specious argument, you say? Well, it is also a specious argument to suggest that you can prepare for tours to England involving Test matches by playing in a Twenty 20 competition organised in Indian conditions. It may be a harsh thing to say so, but is the BCCI simply trying to ensure that other Twenty 20 competitions don’t grow to threaten the IPL’s viability in anyway?
The threat may be as far away as North Pole from South but then, to quote the famous Shakespeare line, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. BCCI is determined to leave no stone unturned in reinforcing its domination of the economics of cricket. It also seems to be so supremely assured of its pre-eminence in cricket that it now believes it can get away with daylight robbery. Given the lack of much outcry, it well may.
Either cricket must be as apathetic with regard to its fate as the Indian establishment is with regard to terrorism or it must worship BCCI as the holy deity. But the right now considers its ends more important than those of cricket and one hopes it doesn’t have to learn the truth the hard way.
(Madan Mohan, a 25-year old CA from Mumbai, is passionate about writing, music and cricket. Writing on cricket is like the icing on the cake.)
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