BCCI knows to control but can’t manage. Can Canberra win help move on?
The Rohit Sharma controversy, triggered by his exclusion from all three squads to Australia in late October, is the biggest in Indian cricket of late. We will probably never know why things panned out the way they did in a system sworn to secrecy, however, one thing is clear that the Board of "Control" for Cricket in India (BCCI) was in a hurry to announce the squads and in order to reach that objective forgot that Rohit was a very important player to the team, especially in light of the magnitude of the tour, and that it was obliged to make allowances for him.
At the time of the announcement of the squads, the BCCI said it was monitoring Rohit’s hamstring injury picked up during the course of the IPL in the UAE. In normal circumstances, that would have been the right thing to do but in view of the Covid-19 pandemic and the strict quarantine protocols the world over, the BCCI should have shown foresight and diligence.
The right thing to do was keep him in all the squads and if in case he couldn’t get fit in time, in particular for the Test rubber, he could have been sent back home but then the BCCI has its own “controlling” mind. It, to everyone's dismay, instead chose to keep him out of all squads.
Certain relaxations are made towards big players and it’s not unprecedented in cricket either, so it’s really difficult to understand why the BCCI chose not to in the case of Rohit ahead of one of the most important tours on India’s calendar.
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly last month, a few days after the IPL final and almost 15 days before the first ODI in Sydney, confirmed that Rohit had recovered 70 percent.
How the possibility of a quick recovery escaped the BCCI then? The 70 percent could have easily been 90 percent ahead of the 50-overs series.
And if the BCCI was really sure that Rohit's injury was that bad, then to make its decision foolproof, it should have put its foot down and asked Rohit to leave the IPL and go back home and nurse his injury in quietude.
The BCCI couldn’t do that probably because it itself was not sure in regard to the seriousness of his injury. Maybe the BCCI thought he could nurse it better with Mumbai Indians in the UAE than go back to India where there was no respite yet with the Covid-19 cases. Anyway, within days Rohit went on to play the IPL final and score a match-winning fifty, and it really made matters worse, making BCCI the butt of all jokes. And then resentment of Rohit’s fans — justified by all means — turned up the heat several notches.
By the time the selectors added Rohit to the Test squad, the damage was done. The Indian media gave it a totally different colour and made it a Rohit-Virat Kohli issue.
Irrespective of how strong captain Kohli is at present, he is not strong enough to keep out a player of the calibre of Rohit. The speculation was nothing but a big joke.
Now reports say Rohit is flying to Australia on December 8 and by the time the mandatory quarantine protocols get over, he would have missed the first Test. Having been out of competitive cricket for almost one and a half months by then, he will require a few more days to get match-ready in accordance with BCCI’s guidelines, so it’s almost impossible that he gets a game before the third Test.
The BCCI did mess it up, no doubts about that, however, it would really hope that the 13-run win in the last ODI (although a 2-1 series loss) at Canberra on Wednesday does bring some positivity and help fans to move on from one of the most embarrassing episodes in Indian cricket in recent years.
Also by the author: