Vantage point

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Not Bad, BCCI

The outcome of BCCI's World Cup post-mortem was expected to be either full of bluster or of symbolism. Either heads would roll in some knee-jerk decisions, or something very cosmetic would be done. What the BCCI has delivered though, is much better than expected. There are some moves I disagree with, but on the whole, there are more positives than negatives.

First, the decison to continue with Dravid as captain for the Bangladesh and England tours. Coupled with the show-cause notice to Tendulkar over his statements in the press, this is quite a remarkable move. In keeping with Indian cricket's traditions of parochialism, one would have expected the Mumbai-Cricket-Association-run BCCI to appoint aapla Sachin to the top job, and take his outbursts very seriously. Much like under Dalmiya, Ganguly was Dada. Instead they have stuck with Dravid and treated Tendulkar like any other player. Now in the first place, I think gag orders on players are stupid. And I am not a big fan of Dravid's captaincy. But this decision shows fair-mindedness, one which, might be wrong, but is not driven by petty politics. Give me wrong over under-handed any day.

There are some moves which are laudable. Making it mandatory for cricketers to play a minimum number of domestic games is good, but it will work only if the board does not pad the intervals between official tours with some meaningless ODI tournaments. bringing the number of teams in the Elite division of the Ranji trophy down to 10 is even also a good move.

The biggest positive is, of course, doing away with the crony-ist zonal system of selectors within a year. I hope this is actually done. Much like the removal of the license-permit-quota raj in 1991, this is an essential move which will be unpopular from a political point of view, but is absolutely necessary.

The really stupid move is that of restricting player endorsements. John Wright has written in his book that several players missed training citing ad shoots as a reason. If endorsement assignments really are interfering with training schedules, then missing the training should be penalised. But certain players, who can manage ad schedules even while sticking to the schedule, like professionals should, are being penalised by this move. What's more, such a restriction is probably illegal under the Indian Contracts Act.