Leave Team India alone, BCCI

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 13:09 hrs

It may sound strange, but at one level I have absolutely no complaints from any of the Indian cricket players despite the humiliating consecutive Test losses on foreign soil. Plenty of frustration yes, but that's about it.

Let me explain that in a slightly roundabout way.

Just go back to the night of April 2, 2011, when captain MS Dhoni lifted the ODI World Cup. The Indian team of 2007-11 laid the claim of being the greatest all-round team ever. No team still has won all three international crowns (Test, ODI, T20).

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Add Dhoni's two IPL titles plus the Champions League and he really seemed to be a man who could do no wrong. The correct thing at this stage would have been to give the entire players a month off to soak in the momentous victory. Winning a world cup is draining and it's difficult to find motivation to do anything else immediately after.

But what did the BCCI do? Force them to play in the IPL within a week.

Now you may well argue that it's the players' fault. They are more interested in playing for money and the IPL, you say. But then get real!

What if the Indian team had got together and decided that they wouldn't have played in the IPL? It would have been seen as a rebellion by the BCCI.

The players would have been arm-twisted into playing and had they still refused, the BCCI would have fixed them in some other way. Everyone is well aware of the vindictiveness of the BCCI.

And do you really think Chennai Super Kings captain Dhoni could have refused? BCCI head honcho N Srinivasan has indirect ownership of CSK and Chairman of Selectors K Srikkanth has been its brand ambassador.

This one of the most blatant conflict of interests in the history of cricket that one can think of, but both have gotten off on a technicality. There may be no legal trouble in being part of both Team India and CSK, but there are huge ethical problems in the whole murky affair.

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Fine. So the IPL is out of the way with its fatigue factor. Then came the trip to West Indies. Dhoni asked to be excused for the entire tour. His request was not accepted and he was asked to play at least the Test series as a compromise.

Why were you so selfish Mr Srikkanth? Here was a man who won you the world cup! Just be graceful and cut him some slack!

But Indian cricket chugged along getting more and more tired and more and more injured. Along came the disastrous England tour.

0-4 is downright humiliating. But the statements of the BCCI and Mr Srikkanth showed that their heads were firmly buried in the sand. Instead of attacking the core issue, the whole thing was brushed under the carpet.

What followed was the Champions League, probably the most meaningless tournament in the history of cricket and an England ODI tour of India for what joy nobody really knows.

This cramped schedule must have been getting on the nerves of most players, but they really can't do anything about it, can they?

Everyone knows that the Big 3 of cricket Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are India's best ever, but are getting on in years and simply have to be phased out.

What stopped them from resting the Big 3 in part or whole and bringing in new talent for the West Indies home tour? There was perfect opportunity when a weak team was playing in India. What did the seniors have to prove with a weak team? This was the time to bring in 3-4 youngsters into Tests.

Dhoni looks tired and fatigued and that is there for everyone to see. Why wasn't he rested for the West Indies ODI tour? How long can you flog a prize winning horse?

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Then came the all-important tour of Australia and the BCCI's slack attitude clearly shows. They either go in for no practice matches, since they don't bring in any revenue, or they organize just a couple of 1, 2 or 3-day affairs.

When you visit South Africa, England or Australia, then you absolutely need about three proper first class matches to acclimatize.

When Dhoni in a press conference talked of retiring from one form of the game, it was blasted in many corners. But it was nothing but a plea for help.

The whole team is tired, fatigued, demotivated and have nothing to really play for. That may be difficult to believe, but just put yourselves in their shoes.

Now that is not to say that Indian Test cricket is not in a crisis. It is definitely seeing one of its biggest crises ever.
But the solution can only come from the BCCI and not the players.

As we continue our endless debates about the failure of the seniors and the small shoes of the juniors; about our inability to play on pace and our absence of a genuine quick; about the financial priorities of all our players… the real culprit is happily sitting in the corner and counting endless wads of cash.  

The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/

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