Nothing the BCCI does surprises anyone anymore. In the public eye, the board is a law unto itself and doesn’t seem accountable to even the national government. The latest move is its decision not to send the Indian team for the Asian Games to be held in Guangzhou in China in November this year.
While the BCCI has cited a tight international schedule, such a thing has not stopped it from making quick changes in the past. One instance that comes to mind is the way a two Test series was held with South Africa in India at short notice when our ICC No. 1 ranking was at stake.
Then there was the 2008 IPL, which was held in no time thanks to the launch of the rival ICL. The BCCI moved at lightning speed and set up the IPL, conducting 59 matches at many venues without much fuss. Clearly the BCCI acts fast and can fix scheduling issues only when it has an agenda to follow or where a lot of money is involved.
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The Olympics or Commonwealth or the Asian Games clearly feature nowhere in the list, nor does national pride. The ICC doesn’t seem to be interested in pushing cricket for the Olympics and the BCCI couldn’t care less for the Asian Games.
What about a second-string team?
Is it a good idea to send a second string team for the Guangzhou Games? Thanks to T20, at least 20-25 Indian players play international matches every year. Won’t it be a good idea to send a second batch of players? That way everybody is happy. The cricket schedule is kept intact and India gets represented. It will also prove to be a valuable exposure for youngsters.
But the BCCI’s latest move is part of a general trend where the national Indian team is squeezed dry like a lemon while all other forms of cricket (domestic, women’s, under-19) are given a step-motherly treatment. The sad part is that even the women’s team won’t be participating in the Asian Games. That totally defies logic.
Why isn’t there even a national debate of any form on the issue of sending a team to the Asian Games? The BCCI informs the country at the last moment and nothing can be done further.
It is interesting that the BCCI, which was formed as a “private club” has so many rights and privileges. The “club” is not required by law to make its balance sheets public, even though it makes more than Rs 1000 crores a year. The tax breaks it receives (especially for the IPL) is laughable.
Divide and rule…
There is no way that other forms of cricket will be promoted the way cricket is run in India today.
The only solution is for the Sports Ministry to split cricket in India into various authorities:
Cricket Games Committee: This will be responsible for campaigning for the introduction of cricket in the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games apart from sending teams for the Asian Games. The BCCI can give the list of players available. Hundreds of players play domestic cricket in India and there’s no need to deny them a chance of participating for the sake of the 14-15 in the national squad.
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Women’s Cricket Board: This will promote women’s cricket in India. They can organize more tours and work on selling things like the national sponsorship which the BCCI has done a bad job of. Why should women’s cricket get secondary treatment within the BCCI?
Domestic and Youth Wing: This can be part of the BCCI, but focus on the under-19 and domestic teams. They can focus on developing and grooming the bloc of cricketers which do not play international cricket.
It’s no just about “Team India” (Read: The Men’s National Team).
There are many other “Team Indias” in India and it is they who deserve a better deal.
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.