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Sight Screen

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

There are times...

...when you think following Indian cricket is a mug's game.
After 8, 10 days of nose to the grindstone-type work away from office, got back today, ignored an enormous pile of stuff in the inbox, thought I'd spend some time catching up with cricket stories, and first crack out of the box, I found this.
Let me see, what does a team trying to repair its reputation and get its act together for a new season need? Some time and place to practise on. Some decent tour planning so you land at the venue with a day or two to spare so you can acclimatise. Some thought. Some consideration.
So what does the Indian team lack? Simple: Some time and place to practise on. Some decent... never mind, you know the script.
Does it strike you that a bunch of schoolboys would do a better job of organizing than the BCCI -- with its tour committee and schedules committee and travel committee and pitches and grounds committee (No practise pitches in MUMBAI??!!!!) and executive committee and all the other committees does?
Typically, such posts attract a standard question: What can we as fans do about it? Typically, the logical answer is the one no one has the drive to implement: Protest. I don't mean post messages on this blog, or on reader forums. I mean, take out a procession to the BCCI office; to the office/home of its president, its secretary, its 'patron in chief'.
The thing is, the BCCI honchos never feel the heat. Selection screw-up? Never mind, if the team wins anyway, all is forgotten; if the team loses, people will boo the team not the selection committee.
Scheduling screw-ups? Duh... so what? Who remembers? Who cares? And if these screw-ups impact on performance and the team loses, who traces cause to effect?
In this connection, I remember an incident relating to India's first ever tour of South Africa. The planning was atrocious, to put it mildly. India arrived in SA one day, played a three day match starting next day, had one day's break, and played the first Test the day after.
Which is not all. The practise match was played on the slowest pitch you ever saw, against opposition so weak, it wouldn't have won a game in Ranji competition -- because we never thought to specify such things as composition of opposition team for the warm up game. The team landed up for nets the day before the Test -- and found no net bowlers available -- because we had forgotten to ask.
The upshot? Madan Lal bowled to the Indians in the nets -- as preparation to take on Allan Donald and company on the fastest pitch you ever saw.
We lost. We wrote of how our team sucks. Of how India can never play Test cricket abroad. Of how India's batsmen cannot play pace on bouncy pitches. Of how we were tigers at home and lambs abroad. And we moved on... to other tours, other screw-ups. Oh, and? I remember writing a very angry column about it at the time. Mails flooded in. You have nothing better to do than criticize the BCCI, said some. You made that up, said others -- but then of course, Ali Bacher in a chat on Cricinfo actually admitted SA had "used the home advantage" in chosing the pitch for India to practise on, and denying India net bowlers.
Point being? Nothing changed then, nothing will change now -- because we as a group do not care enough to make our anger felt, where it should be felt.
Oh never mind... two days from now we will play our next game. And we can then analyze whether we used our power plays right... or messed up the super sub bit... or didnt bat well in the middle, top, bottom, and sides...

20 Comments:

  • Wow...Prem, you opened with all gun blazing :-) Btw read the mid-day column also that I linked to. Seems that the Indian players are also part of the attitudinal problem. I guess thats why GC said that we dont prepare well. Wasn't directed only at BCCI I think.
    Oh and btw, whats with that Amit Shukla column on rediff ? He says that there are some people within already gunning for GC ! And some of these were part of his selection process ? !!

    By Blogger worma, at 11:38  

  • Hmm...I really love this blog..Prem..thank you and to all the other contributors too....
    I am quite upset with what is happening to Indian Cricket..Re: the Sri Lanka Tour..I think we did so-so in the tour but certainly not that bad that we need to criticize Dravid's captaincy. After all it was the first series in the season.. playing against a very competent team who are famous for not losing in their homeground.I think we put up a creditable performance. We now need to take up our performance a notch higher against New Zealand/Zimbabwe. But what is happening is that due to certain decisions politics is creeping in the Indian Team..GC saying our ranking is correct..SG saying forget ICC rankings we are better..VS supporting Ganguly...AK criticizing his exclusion publically..BCCI doing its usual incompetent stuff.. I feel if it continues this way GC will be resigning soon..We need to be successful in this tour otherwise Indian Cricket is in for some lean days ahead

    By Blogger ilovecricket, at 11:47  

  • Welcome back, Prem.. Good to see u again..

    Yeah it was bad organization.. you think the procession to BCCI office would change anything? You journalists have a more powerful tool than us.. You go BCCI-bashing.. we support u..

    As GC himself said, the system would take some time to change.. may be he should take up the task of prep camps, net practices, airlines booking, press meet arrangements and stuff rather than getting angry and in the end, wasting time..
    But, in the end, it boils down to the performance on field, right?

    By Blogger Raju, at 11:47  

  • Prem
    Precisely my point. But the palyers were indifferent too in this case. That may be because how BCCI treated them so long that they have taken up this "chalega" attitude.

    By Blogger Sriram Vanamamalai, at 11:50  

  • Prem, interesting story here:
    http://content.cricinfo.com/westindies/content/story/216860.html

    Foreign players are allowed to play WI domestic competition.. Remember Vasbert Drakes and Vinod Kambli's stints with SA local sides (with a big eye on the World cup '03)? The former's ploy worked (though he disappeared as fast as he came in).. while the latter couldnt.. Now you can see a stream of international players trying to play the WI CaribBear series.. (I wont be surprised if Dinesh Mongia opts for, say, Barbados next year rather than Lei'shire).

    By Blogger Raju, at 11:53  

  • Prem,
    You want to join me for a 'Dharana' or 'Gherao' at BCCI office?

    By Blogger santa_from_NJ, at 11:58  

  • gp: But support how? I get mails -- and now posts on this blog -- saying well said. Appreciate it, friend -- but it doesn't do anything to address the problem.
    Reminds me of a story. Some folks were once discussing who the greatest orator of all time was -- Cicero, or Demosthenes. Everyone in the group argued back and forth on the lines of.. do you remember that speech Cicero made... wow, that line, made goose pimples stand up on my arms... that sort of thing.
    Then one guy said, look at it this way. When Cicero spoke, we all said, wow, how well he speaks. But when Demosthenes spoke (remember his famous oration, that ended with delendo est carthage?) we did not stop to applaud. We rushed home, we picked up flaming brands and swords and spears and we marched on Carthage and we razed it to the ground.
    That is the thing I keep thinking -- we have brilliant writers doing Indian cricket. What we have not managed to find so far is a Demosthenes, who can inspire the fans to stop applauding, and do something about it. :-)

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 12:14  

  • Prem:

    So what's different? Time and time again the BCCI has proved that its asininefulness is terrific. It's taken them umpteen years to appoint a foreign coach. It woke up suddenly to find out that hey, guess what, physical fitness is important. Give it another few years to realise that proper schedules, proper tour management, etc. are also important.

    The problem is that this amateurishness is a part of the Indian makeup. How many events organized by desis actually start and end on time? The captain of the Indian team himself straggled in at 9 pm when, according to reports, they were instructed by the board to assemble in the morning. Does this not send a message to the others? No wonder Greg fumed. If this is the attitude of our so-called professional cricketers what can you expect from the non-professionals managing the board?

    By Blogger hjrsingh, at 12:17  

  • Prem...I once had an idea, an inception, why can't an alternative body to BCCI be formed in India ? Afer all, there are so many great minds involved with this game. I'm sure if its well conceived even the players can be pursuaded to join. And ICC is anyway spineless, would have to recognise. I once even wrote a mail to Harsha Bhogle about it ;-)...I'm sure I'm not the first one to think on these lines....what d'ya think ??

    By Blogger worma, at 12:23  

  • OHHHOOOOO.....

    here comes prembhai from manhatten end, right arm round the wkt, first one hits the ground hard mahendu tries to get out of line but could not and is bleeding.patron from non-strickers end looks baffled and asks field captain if prem p can bowl few gentles.

    Prem, u r right everyday it looks like public-awareness campaign.Thing is public here is fully aware So what next. I still remember that Durban disaster.
    Also after all this we leaves very few excuses for players to use.

    By Blogger MAHER, at 12:26  

  • Worma,

    I myself also wrote to rediff during the Match Fixing Scandal days along the same lines your propose. Prem had it published on rediff. Here's the link. Maybe it's time has come.

    http://www.rediff.com/sports/2000/jun/08prabha.htm

    By Blogger mamu, at 12:46  

  • worma: Unfortunately, the problem is you cannot form a parallel body because the BCCI has been recognized, and authorised by the government of India, to run cricket in our country.
    As such, it controls the finances. It controls the stadia, which is more important. And it is officially recognized by the ICC.
    Given this, if a parallel body were to come up, it would do what? It couldn't put a team together because every player knows joining it means the end of his official cricket career. If it got a team together, it couldn't do much with it -- no grounds to play on, and without official sanction, no international teams to play against.
    This is precisely why monopoly is anathema in business -- but hey, is what we have in cricket :-)

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 12:54  

  • Yeah but what gives BCCI the sole sanction to controlling cricket ? Why cant I, making my own W-BCCI go and ask the govt to recognize it ? I guess the only thing is that the names involved with the parallel body should be big enough (and maybe some of them influential enough, yet not politically motivated to hijack the game). Once the goverment gives recognition then the other things can follow. Like BCCI does not own the stadia as far as I know. And there can be parallel state bodies of this new org. The state and national players can then be convinced to join the new org, for the betterment of cricket. I guess the biggest hurdle is the first part itself. choosing the right people...motivated enough...influential enough...yet genuinely wanting the good of Indian cricket...and yes....maybe rich enough (this would be a full time job for some years to come for them ;-)....and ohh yes...the biggest challenge is to make these things happen in the right sequence.
    ..and about ICC....as I said earlier...I dont see any reason why they wont recognise this new board once the above things happen.

    mamu..let me read that...maybe we can restart it. Prem..seriously...do you think its NOT possible at all ? Is it more difficult than the revolution you are asking for ?

    By Blogger worma, at 13:02  

  • Worma & Mamu:
    I totally agree with you guys about the need for an alternate Cricket body.
    What is stopping an enterprising and rich mogul (Murdoch??) from starting a parallel setup ala Packer style?
    Hell, we don't even need the stadiums, most of the money is made through tv rights and Iam sure it's much easier to procure a stadium in other countries.
    If need be, start a parallel ICC body as well and provide the option to existing boards to either dump ICC and align with the new body or risk extinction.

    By Blogger Mr. V, at 13:44  

  • This brings us back to the old debate of whether BCCI actually re[resents Indian cricket or not. I think if the Courts were smarter then, they would have forced the BCCI to revert back from what they said (SK Nair told that the BCCI is a provate bodyy and the cricket team is not exactly Indian) with threats of taxes and removal of all benefits they receive. But the Courts did not go to that extent. Yeah, a separate body would prove to be great but only if it takes off. And the taking off part is extremely difficult. The best thing that can be done is to force the Courts (not the govt, they do ***) to look into the functioning of this body and improve it.

    By Blogger Toney, at 15:21  

  • I thought there was a court case ongoing between BCCI and some individual(Harsh..?) about transparency in BCCI proceedings. Prem had a tab on this one, and there was some hearing also in June(?). Prem am I confusing something ??

    By Blogger worma, at 15:25  

  • Yes. This probably is a better option for now. Let the courts try to do the job first. From what I remember, there was a PIL filed by a couple of Delhi lawyers. We should probably fund them or file other cases to add to the pressure.

    By Blogger mamu, at 15:32  

  • Not trying to pass the buck here, but what happens if the players (or some of them at least. Certainly the big names) decide that they cannot continue playing at a disadvantage until the BCCI gets it's act together? I understand that they have a lot of contractual obligations that they might forfeit on and that it's professional lives at stake, but wouldn't a lot of the public and most of the media back them on this?
    Revolutions are indeed needeed, but revolutions are always messy.
    Maybe it is a little foolish, even self-defeating, to argue over who ought to toss the first match (writer, commentator, spectator, player etc)

    By Blogger Avinash, at 19:33  

  • I have a very revolutionary idea but it involves bloodshed, so I'll keep my mouth shut.

    By Blogger Toney, at 20:51  

  • This is a comment regarding cricket broadcast in USA for the upcoming India-NZ-Zimbabwe series. Directv is the SOLE broadcast rights owner in the USA for this cricket tournament. However, Directv requires 1 year commitment to be able to subscribe for the cricket matches. This is an unfair business practice since this forces everyone who like to watch a particular Cricket series to pay for Directv service for 1 year. I would like to request people who feel the same way to make a email complaint to fcc (fccinfo@fcc.gov) including your name, address and daytime phone number.

    By Blogger Ajit, at 22:10  

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