Let Indian cricket continue to march ahead
These are times when cricket in India has shown the ability to create suspense and excitement on the field and off it and both at the same time! What else can one say of the current scenario where the Indian Premier League as it hotted up towards the end stages of the preliminary phase had created enough ups and downs, unpredictable outcomes and drama to crave for attention. Where will Sanju Samson cart the next six now or Can Basil Thampi crash through the defence with another yorker? ...formed some of the key moments to cherish even as the teams jostled for space and ways to rise to the top. Not to be outdone seemed the BCCI officials elsewhere as they wrestled with the Supreme Court orders and the ICC's adverse decision on revenue-sharing and governance. The key concern at one stage was would these officials in their anger stop India competing in the forthcoming Champions Trophy in England by delaying the naming of the team and their mule-like stubbornness. The last date for sending the team-list had passed the April 25 date but that it did not shake the Board men to action or so it seemed nor did the ICC spring to any hasty decision. What would be the next news-making step, seemed the immediate suspense.
Any stoppage of an Indian participation would have been a disaster for the players and their careers. That would have been unpardonable. Fortunately for Indian cricket, better counsel prevailed and the country is now already ready with a known and tested team (even if it meant a wait for the new and enterprising young talents identified in the ongoing IPL) to defend the title. Indeed, seeing the focus on Indian cricket there is pride on one side and a touch of sadness too. Pride because of the knowledge that India's presence is vital for world cricket in terms of revenue-generation thanks to its commercial clout. That India has been the biggest revenue contributor is a reflection of the current times, of the increasing passion that the multitude of fans in the country have shown to this sport and translated it through the massive stadia-presence and astounding TV viewership. Sadness, because in the process there seems to be a perception that the Indian Board had begun to give the impression of laying down its own rules of the game. Is might giving way to right, seemed the anxiety. Be that as it may, it is just as well, that things have not gone out of hand and that the powerful and richest sports body has a Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators now to oversee all actions.
Yet for all this, it must still be accepted that it was this set of BCCI officials who had opened the doors to prosperity, shown the way to the world on how to make the most of a sport's popularity. At a time when five-day Test matches and other long-duration representative matches of various hue had begun to stale in the public eye if not the ardent die-hard fans, it was one-day cricket that opened a vista of hope. The T20 variety then totally revolutionised cricket, so to say, with its high-drama and on-field actions ensnaring the fans, young, old and even the uninitiated. Everyone lapped up this enchanting cricket-version and the men at the helm found the way to translate this surging popularity into revenue conversion through various commercial options, mainly TV rights.
The results were plentiful. Cricket's stock rose. BCCI emerged as a rich sports body. Not just that. National cricketers too became richer with annual player-contract of the chosen best surpassing more than a crore of rupees now. Not just that cricketers in general, present and past, are seeing better times in terms of remuneration for matches and benefits like pension. Playing facilities too have undergone transformation with India boasting of some of the best cricket stadia in the world. The cash-rich IPL has become a showpiece event to get in some of the best known players from Australia, England, West Indies and Sri Lanka, among others, aside from becoming the uppermost talent-finder for India. Whichever way one saw it was only brightness until scandals rocked and pricked the bubble, so to say. Reams have been written on this by now.
With the Supreme court in the picture the process of cleansing is on. One only hopes cricket officials continue to cooperate for the betterment of the game. That the intensity should not be lost is prime to keep cricket at the high pedestal that it is now. If the recent episode at the cricket's headquarters is any indication, then India appears to have lost much support from member countries. Confrontation can bring in no good, this much is clear but magnanimity could win a few friends and that would mean taking the better option of negotiations for a better deal as the road-map to the future. For the moment let’s leave the rest to the happenings on the field. Cricketers need an atmosphere of competitiveness, nothing else. Having done so well in multiple series recently, Kohli and Co would aim to keep the momentum going. What better to clear the current air of discontentment?