Post-2000, it's only been politics in Indian cricket!

Last Updated: Mon, Nov 17, 2014 13:00 hrs

BCCI chiefs have been rarely former cricketers with the Maharaja of Vizianagram being a rare exception. In the 1990s also we had graceful politicians like Madhavrao Scindia, but after that the decade was plagued with the match-fixing scandal and things got even more politicized. Jagmohan Dalmiya took over in 2001 and things did get pretty stormy. It did not appear so at first. Dalmiya, captain Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright formed a successful partnership and Indian cricket came out of its match-fixing era. We recorded a number of great victories and the Indian fan's faith in the game was fully restored.

Dalmiya's biggest moment of Indian politicking came during the infamous tour of South Africa in 2001 where match referee Mike Denness banned six Indian players and accused Sachin Tendulkar of match-fixing.

That round was won by Dalmiya and Denness found himself no longer a match referee. However things started to unravel in 2004 when Dalmiya stepped down. Master politician Sharad Pawar tried his best to depose him. In an intense battle in 2004, Dalmiya protégé Ranbir Singh Mahendra beat Pawar by just one vote, like losing in the last ball of an ODI match! But in 2005, Pawar turned the tables and took charge. Dalmiya had a roller-coaster ride. He was expelled from the BCCI for misappropriation of funds. Dalmiya approached the High Court and won the battle there. He clawed his way back into the Cricket Association of Bengal and also managed to become interim President in 2013.

After Dalmiy's earlier exit, the focus shifted to the intense spat between Ganguly and coach Greg Chappell. Initially, Chappell got his way and got Ganguly out of the way. Then Chappell himself was ousted Ganguly clawed his way back into the team, but even that didn't last. Dalmiya. Chappell. Ganguly. They all had unceremonious exits.

Pawar also found himself involved with one controversy or the other but was totally overshadowed by the spat between IPL head honcho Lalit Modi and then central minister Shashi Tharoor. What began as an exchange on Twitter ended up with both being ousted from their respective posts. The IPL itself has been riddled with controversy since the very beginning and one has totally lost count of its many scandals.

The BCCI was the biggest opponent of the T20 format but after the floating of the Zee-backed Indian Cricket League, it was forced to launch the IPL. But not before venting its ire on legend Kapil Dev and a host of other players.

When N Srinivasan took over as BCCI President, the controversy and politics continued. Kochi Tuskers Kerala shut down. Deccan Chargers went bankrupt. Earlier, the Rajasthan Royals had barely escaped expulsion.

There was the 0-8 debacle and the nexus between Srinivasan and captain MS Dhoni and their conflict of interests between Chennai Super Kings, India Cements and Team India. Then came the match-fixing scandal that involved Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan. Former India player S Sreesanth was the most sensational name that came at that time. To complicate matters, the Supreme Court has also revealed that the Mudgal report looking into the match-fixing saga has named Srinivasan, Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra and IPL CEO Sundar Raman.

Now there is a total mess at the top. Srinivasan has been suspended and we've had three interim chiefs in the form of Dalmiya, Shivlal Yadav and legend Sunil Gavaskar. Meanwhile, instead of sacking coach Duncan Fletcher, Ravi Shastri has been brought in as team director. There has never been this level of confusion and politics at the top and things seem to be getting even more complicated.

In fact the only "Mr Clean" in the last decade plus has been Shashank Manohar, who was President from 2008-11. He has been a harsh critic of all the wrongdoings that have been happening in Indian cricket. So it is actually amazing to note that amidst all this politicking, 2007-14 has been probably the greatest-ever age for Indian cricket.

We won our only T20 World Cup, our only ICC Champions Trophy "outright" and our second ODI World Cup. We achieved the ICC Number 1 ranking in all three formats of the game: Tests, ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals. We registered our first ever 4-0 Test whitewash. We recorded the first ever double century in ODIs and repeated that feat three times.

The sad part is that should we win the 2015 ODI World Cup, then all of the current politicking and controversy will also be forgotten. Such is the nature of Indian cricket. 

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here