What is needed is complete reform of Indian cricket
Apr 5, 2007 - 8:59:17 AM
The Board of Control for Cricket in India - has the dubious distinction of being the only full member of the International Cricket Council - which does not have a website. This, in the 21st century in the home of computer software, is a shocking commentary on the administration that's engaged in running cricket in India. Coach Greg Chappell may have become the fall guy in the wake of India's disastrous showing in the World Cup, the best replacement money can buy can be recruited, younger players can be phased in and older players phased out; but there will be no material change without a complete reform of Indian cricket.
When cricketers past and present meet BCCI officials this week, they must bluntly communicate that the board is the fundamental problem and India's ineptitude in the field partly a manifestation of the greater malaise. Given the money at the BCCI's disposal - obtained directly or indirectly from the Indian people - the millions that play the game in India, they ought to have been world champions or thereabouts a long time ago. This would have occurred if only the sport had been administered proficiently. Australia, with far less financial resources, have achieved sustained excellence because cricket there has been administered professionally.
It takes days, some times weeks for the BCCI to summon a meeting of their members. The executive has to move from the hands of part-timers to full-time employees, from the incompetent to the competent, from the corrupt to the clean.
If the BCCI does not budge - and the chances are it won't easily - the union government must intervene. The centre thinks cricket is of such national importance that it muscled in legislation to force private TV rights holders to share cricket coverage with the state broadcaster, Doordarshan -, so that people who cannot access or afford cable or direct-to-home - TV are not denied contact with cricket; and all political parties deemed such a bill to be equally significant to pass this unanimously.
Both the central government and parliament, who in the name of acting in the interests of the wider Indian public made it compulsory for TV licensees to provide footage to DD, now have a duty to demand on behalf of the same Indian populace why Indian cricket has not dominated world cricket, as it ought to have? And why it degenerated to such depths in the World Cup?
The players concerned are certainly answerable - and heads must roll. Greg Chappell could only take them to the water, but not forced them to drink. But the BCCI is responsible for the snail-paced progress of Indian cricket in the international arena for 75 years, and some times even for the wheels going backwards. From the maharajas to the new barons, they have let India down rather badly. There has never been and there still isn't any blueprint for excellence.
Academies exist for the sake of them, rarely producing any exciting cricketers. Domestic tournaments are uncompetitive and held unsystematically. They are also never integrated with India's international calendar. The programme is flush with one-day internationals, which fill the BCCI and their affiliated state associations' coffers, but achieve little by way of honing skills.
There is typically no sense of tradition. International matches are allocated any and every where to keep various state federations happy and induce them into voting in favour of the controlling faction. There is no exploration of eligibility, no process of making venues compete with each other to earn the right to host important fixtures. Most of the stadiums are not only third-rate - despite the money sloshing through the administrators' fists - but the infrastructure of some of the cities and towns hosting matches is embarrassing.
The lawyers, politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and even policemen who comprise the Indian cricketing hierarchy need to surrender their executive powers. The operations of the board must, within a stipulated time frame, pass to an efficient, knowledgeable and caring corporate structure. Unless this is initiated, Friday and Saturday's BCCI conference will be much ado about nothing.
-, which can be bought online on www.ians.in)
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