These have not been the best of times if you are the Board of Control for Cricket in India. As if the IPL scandal was not enough, India’s performance in the West Indies and Zimbabwe has once again given ammunition to the people who were having pot shots at the BCCI.
And then in its wisdom, the BCCI has decided not to send a team to the November Asian Games.
Predictably, there have been reactions galore. Michael Ferreira, never one to hold back when there is a chance to take a dig at the game of cricket, has said that the BCCI is drunk on power. Gaurav Kalra has asked the BCCI “who let you snatch my medal?” (Your medal Gaurav?). Suresh Kalamadi, president of the Indian Olympic Association, has called the BCCI money minded. Anil Kumble, always a sane voice in all situations has said that the decision was disappointing.
In fact Gaurav Kalra in his column has put forward an interesting argument. Comparing the careers of Sunil and Rohan Gavaskar, he has stated that while Sunil Gavaskar played 125 test matches and scored 34 test hundreds, Rohan has a googly that even sneaks through the impenetrable defence of his dad. "I have done what you never have. I played for India in Kuala Lumpur at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, Did you dad, do anything similar in your 2-decade-long career?"
If indeed this argument wins, then I am very surprised. Every young person who picks up a cricket bat or ball in India wants to play test cricket. Every young Indian player wants to score test hundreds, take test wickets and win cricket world cups. The thought of winning gold medals or participating in Asian, Commonwealth or Olympic games never crosses any young cricketers mind. I will take the 34 centuries any day to participation in the Commonwealth games.
W hat people seem to be forgetting that Cricket has never been a main part of the Olympic movement. A would be athlete dreams of winning an Olympic medal, a would be cricketer dreams of scoring a test hundred at Lords. Infact even the Asian Games organization committee has not given much importance to the game. That is why the format being tried is the most recent and the less serious format of the game i.e. twenty twenty. If cricket was such an integral part of the games, then we would have seen cricket being played at every games and in the 50 over format. So if the organizers are not that serious about the game, why should the BCCI be?
The most appropriate reaction to this entire mess was by Dilip Premchandran who writes “Instead of whipping up mass hysteria, the media should be asking the question: does cricket belong on the Olympic or Asian Games stage? Or will it be an imposter, as football and tennis are? An Olympic medal should be the pinnacle of your sport. If it's not, you really don't have any business being there. Premchandran further adds “If you grow up kicking a ball in Stanley Park, you dream of doing the Premier League-Champions League double with Liverpool or Everton, and of winning the World Cup with England. The Olympics don't even enter the picture. A kid tossing a rugby ball around in Pretoria today has visions of Currie Cup-Super 15 glory with the Bulls and of a World Cup triumph in the Springbok shirt. It's nothing but arrogance for administrators and commentators to assume that the Olympics should be the pinnacle of sporting achievement. In sports such as athletics and rowing, it is. In others, like football and cycling [the Tour de France is their gold medal], it is not and never will be.” Well said sir.
The next twelve months are very crucial for Indian Cricket. There is the 50 Over World Cup taking place at home. There are tours to South Africa, England and Australia. Indian crickets main prerogative during this period should be to protect its number one ranking in the test match cricket and to win its first 50 over world event since 1985.
No body, not even the ICC, remembers Shaun Pollock and his boys winning the Common Wealth games gold medal in Kualampur in 1998. However Steve Waugh’s Australians winning the cricket World Cup in 1999 is a part of cricketing folklore.
If we take a poll around the country, most cricket fans in India would prefer a World Cup victory to Asian Games gold. And that’s where this argument should end.
So let us actually congratulate the BCCI for taking a right decision for once.
Before the arrival of Rafa Benitez at Anfield, Liverpool football club were hovering in the mid table of the Premier League. Champion league appearances were limited and minimal. No body took Liverpool seriously in England and in Europe.
In his first season, Rafa Benitez got the Champions league back to Anfield. During his tenure Liverpool were the most feared and the most consistent British football team in Europe. Liverpool scored victories over Juventus, A.C. Milan, Barcelona, Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid among others in Europe. Except in his last season, Liverpool always finished in the top 4 and for a brief period in 2008 were favorites to win the Premier League. Manchester United were thrashed three times in a row in 2008-2009 and Liverpool football club were being taken seriously again.
Hence it is only appropriate that I should say “Thank you Rafa”.