After India’s shock.. rather ignominous exit from the world cup.. there have been many analysis… more knee-jerk ones. But this one by Harsha Bhogle is outstanding and right on the money! It is important we look at the basic and the most foundational reasons for the sad showing.. and this article hits at all of them – specially the first and the last reason he gives – Focus of BCCI and the Ego of the people involved!
I’d like to look at six issues in Indian cricket, each a mere four-word sentence.
“Where is my focus?” Cricket, at the moment, is number three on the priority list of the BCCI. This is not meant to be an indictment just a statement of intent. Number one priority is clearly revenues and at most times it is not bad because an enterprise must survive. Number two is the vote and its acquisition on a year-to-year basis. And only at number three is the product. For an organisation to be successful the product must be good and every effort should be geared towards making the product competitive.
If, on the other hand, revenue and the vote take precedence, we dilute the product. Hence, my old theory. India will never be a genuine cricket-playing power. A financial power? Yes. But not a cricket playing power because priorities are in the wrong order.
“Taking the tough decision.” Do we want to produce tough, modern, intelligent cricketers? If that is indeed so, they have to learn to play tough cricket early in life. The first two teams they get selected for should not be easy, should require them to be able to analyse their game and play tough, uncompromising cricket. What you learn earliest in life tends to stay with you. 27 first class teams means early progress is too simple.
“Which is my team?” I believe a player can represent no more than two teams at any given time. If he has to don more caps than that, the idea of the team taking precedence over the self will never sink in. Players will become selfish, put their own performance first. Can you imagine a player playing for his state, his zone, for ‘India Red’, for Rest of India and for India? Which is his team then? Which cap is he proud of wearing? To inculcate pride in the team, a player must play only for his state and his country,that extra five per cent can only come from a sense of belonging. So maybe there should be no Duleep Trophy, no Irani Trophy and certainly no Challenger.
“Do I love India?” Or do I love my state more? Are administrators thinking more about their own associations, their own grants, their own players? Inherently, a team cannot progress unless every constituent has the same objective. Gujarat, or Maharashtra, having three teams does not help India because it dilutes the stream in which young talent bathes. Not even Barbados in its prime could have possessed 45 first class standard cricketers in a year. But three teams from a state means three votes, three grants. So what then is the primary objective? Producing tough cricketers for India or protecting the vote and the grant? Yes, everybody loves India but it is conditional and that condition is hurting Indian cricket badly.
“How much Test cricket?” Everything is measured by the amount of cricket you have played. Narayana Murthy hasn’t played international cricket but his piece in a national daily was a stinging reminder of the shortsightedness of that theory. But every time we seek progress, there is a colossal speed breaker in place. “How much Test cricket have you played?” It is preventing us from finding good coaches, good selectors, good commentators. The fact that only cricketers can solve cricketing issues has been proven to be a myth years ago. Have we considered integrity, honesty, selflessness? If Indian cricket seeks to reorganise, it must look for the best people; anything else will be a compromise.
“Ego? Now, what’s that?” Found anyone lately about whom you can say that? Just a simple three letter word. It has brought Indian, and to be fair Pakistani, cricket to its knees.
You can worry about Dravid and Chappell and Pawar and Vengsarkar. But unless you answer simple questions honestly, the names won’t matter, the issues won’t go away. We will continue pointing fingers.
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