The Board of Control for Cricket in India is an extremely powerful organisation within cricket. They control cricket in a country with a huge population and an unconditional passion for the sport. They run the Indian Premier League, one of the richest tournaments in all of sports.
They organise dozens of games year-on-year, often to sell-out crowds. They have a successful team who are currently champions of the world. In these situations, it’s easy to wonder if power and wealth goes to the head. In the BCCI’s case, it certainly does. They seem unable to stop themselves from over-ruling Cricket’s worldwide governing body and making a string of petulant decisions that, not only give their country a bad reputation, but the sport itself.
The latest bonehead move from the powers-that-be in India is to ban a number of young English players from attending the Global Cricket School in Pune. The School is ran by Sachin Bajaj, a development officer with the BCCI, with the trip organised in order to help teach young players about playing on the turning pitches that are prominent in Asia. However, the BCCI suddenly pulled the plug with weeks to go before the trip began. The reason given for this drastic move was that the board was “furious” that Joe Root had made such an impact in England’s recent Tour of India as he had previous experience on Indian pitches.
This seems like extraordinarily bad sour grapes. Cricket is a worldwide sport. Plenty of players move to other countries and experience conditions. Both Dravid and Tendulkar played first-class cricket with Kent and Yorkshire before dominating England on tour on numerous occasions. However, there were no sour grapes – it was simply accepted that they were top quality players and that England were not able to match them. This is a similar situation with Root, who has the makings of a top International player, yet the BCCI have instead decided to bury their heads in the sand, putting England at an unfair disadvantage to the rest of the world in the process.
The BCCI needs to look closer to home when looking at why they suffered defeat to England, as opposed to deflecting the blame. Being able to play in completely different conditions can be vital to a player’s education and has certainly helped past Indian greats such as Dev, Dravid and Tendulkar in the past. Clearly this belief is not held by the BCCI, as all centrally-contracted Indians are now banned from playing English first-class cricket. Presumably this is due to the ridiculous amount of One-Day cricket played in India. Players need practice and experience in the first-class arena if they are to be able to make the step up to Test Match Cricket. In Indian Cricket there seems to be a trend of One-Day specialists who lack the tools to play Test Cricket. This will only continue if the BCCI continue to neglect the longer form of the game.
However, this wasn’t the only BCCI disaster this year. Despite the BCCI generally bullying them around, the ICC, in their wisdom, decided to award the 2013 Women’s World Cup to India. In recent months, the tournament took on extra importance for Indian Society in general. Women’s rights in India have come under huge scrutiny in recent months after a number of high-profile cases. This was a perfect opportunity for India to promote the achievements of women in their country and show the wider audience that they do care. However, with only a week to go before the start, the schedule was changed, leaving teams and broadcasters alike in the dark and ensuring that the competition would not receive the publicity it deserves. This complete lack of respect shown for the premier women’s cricket tournament shouldn’t place any doubt in the minds of Cricket’s Governing body that the BCCI should not be allowed to organise any major tournaments for the foreseeable future.
Obviously, the BCCI is a powerful organisation, but Cricket’s International Governing body has, so far, completely failed to bring them into line. Pushing them away from their Amish-style “Work of the devil” belief on DRS would be a start, considering India are completely alone in failing adopt a system used across the world. Perhaps it is also time for the ICC to start placing sanctions on Indian players. Maybe then the BCCI would see that they are completely out of line for banning players as an excuse for their own side’s shortcomings. The onus is certainly on the ICC, otherwise this sort of action will become commonplace in cricket and the quality of the sport will suffer as a result.