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|February 21, 2000||
Wake up and smell the coffeeSujata Prakash
In the latest issue of Wisden, there is a review by Paul Kelso of the book 'Not quite cricket' by Pradeep Magazine. This book delves into the controversial subject of match fixing in the subcontinent. While Kelso feels the conclusions are ambiguous, even though there is enough fire to fuel the smoke emanating, he is concerned more with the 'chaotic world of Indian domestic cricket' that comes to the fore. 'English fans' he says, 'should derive comfort from the fact that there is a governing body making a bigger hash of things than the ECB.'
If anyone from the BCCI is reading this, they should feel at least a little queasy that their propensity for rank bad administration is not a closely guarded secret anymore. The infamy is spreading far and wide and is not confined to a motley crowd of disgruntled fans and media hacks who have nothing better to do than rake up muck.
Magazine describes the domestic scene as 'riven by vested interests' and where the prodigous funds available have been chanelled into stadia and administrators' expenses rather than on pitches and youth development. This is not his biased opinion, but rather a conclusion based on in-depth information provided by cricketing greats.
It's obvious even to a layman that what this translates to is a callous disregard for the game and its betterment. All the BCCI seem to be concerned about is that they have 11 players out in the middle, preferably always with a showman like Tendulkar to draw in the crowds, so that the money continues to roll in. So far they have got away with this style of functioning, but for how much longer can this go on? Already, there are voices saying we should deal with ineptitude the Pakistani way -- if their Prime Minister (or acting CEO) can sack the PCB chief and install another when things are not going right, then why can't we?
It's sad when democratic people start feeling that dictatorship could give us better results. And this happens only when the common man is frustrated, because he thinks his voice is not being heard. Some intervention is needed, but no one knows where that is going to come from. Perhaps the citizens of India should take out a full-page advertisement demanding answers to their questions. If Jagmohan Dalmiya could have the courage to deal with the ICC panel's ruling against Shoaib Akhtar so decisively, couldn't he have dealt with the rot in Indian cricket years back? Was he so unaware of where it all was heading?
It seems so, according to Magazine, who thinks Dalmiya is a 'pragmatist happier to shoot the messenger than face the truth.' This same man who once scoffed at allegations of match-fixing in Indian cricket as 'absurd' and waved them away, chaired the Christchurch summit as president of the ICC, and waxed eloquent about the need to investigate match-fixing and root it out in its entirety. Obviously he couldn't have got away with this attitide there. The working environment in India offers enough scope for an individual in power to exercise his arrogance and dismiss what he doesn't want to deal with. This is the attitude we see from the board today.
The ball is in the court of the BCCI now. It's impossible to believe that they are not aware of which way the wind is blowing. It sounds absurd even to my own ears, but to many baffled observers it seems to be treating the game as its personal fiefdom to develop as it pleases. If this is the case, then hopefully for all of us, better sense will soon prevail. It really shouldn't be difficult for the ruling bodies to nurse their ailing ward back to health. If they have been following the various media reports, they would know it's all a question of imbibing some common sense and lacing it with a whole lot of tender loving care.
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