A Board of no explanations!

No matter how much the BCCI is criticised by the media and former players for straying in administrative line and length, nothing seems to change. When former all-rounder Rusi Surti passed away a few weeks ago, there was no condolence message sent out from the Board’s communications department. Probably, only former captains are given such an ‘honour’ but it ain’t right and it shows complete disrespect and lack of sensitivity.

Two days after Surti expired, India played a one-day game against England at Kochi and Dhoni’s men were not seen wearing armbands to mourn his death. I wonder how many of the current administrators know what a name Surti made for himself on the 1967-68 tour of Australia despite India losing all four Tests.

The Aussies were so impressed that Queensland Cricket Association provided him the opportunity to play the Sheffield Shield for them. Surti played a significant role in India’s first-ever overseas Test series win in New Zealand in 1968.

Left out: Cheteshwar Pujara does not figure in first class matches before the Australia series

When I called a BCCI office bearer to ask why the players were not wearing black bands in Kochi, he said he was in another city and did not know whether the host association had made arrangements for them. Here is a where the role of a good team manager comes in.

Old timers tell me a Polly Umrigar (manager on the 1975-76 tours to New Zealand and West Indies as well as the 1977-78 tour of Australia) or a PR Mansingh (manager of the 1983 and 1987 World Cup teams) would have swung into action and ensured the dear departed cricketer was mourned.

Unfortunately, current team managers are the same men who look after the team’s baggage. Some of them even boast of contributing to successful strategy like the one gentleman I encountered a few years ago when the Indian team won an overseas Test.

The BCCI would do well to realise they need some level of goodwill for their administrators to be remembered as people who genuinely contributed to the game. Goodwill must be earned and media relations are far more critical than what the establishment realise at the moment.

Explaining key decisions in press releases should not be viewed as a huge favour to the Press since the media is primarily a vehicle to convey information to the cricket fans without whom there wouldn’t be a meaningful sporting existence.

Another act of the Board’s arrogance was witnessed this week when the decision not to have any of the regular Test players figuring in the three games before the Australia series wasn’t followed by an explanation. Ditto the issue about Cheteshwar Pujara warming the bench in the ODI series against England rather than being released for the Ranji Trophy final until the BCCI secretary provided an explanation to the media in Bangalore on Tuesday.

Sandeep Patil, who has spent most of his life being media-savvy is now a man with zipped lips. No harm in that, but the chairman of selectors must be allowed to provide at least a brief statement in a press release after every selection meeting.
Interestingly, the media is seldom short of information when it comes to the Indian Premier League. Come Sunday, the day of the Indian Premier League VI auction, there will be no shortage of information and quotes about players being picked (oops… bought) to participate in the cricket circus.

And unlike the team selection media release, the auction press release, is elaborate and even includes a quote from IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla, who says: “The auction signals the start of the sixth season of what has been a phenomenon. The 2013 edition of the IPL will feature a new title sponsor Pepsi — and a new team — Sunrisers Hyderabad. It will be interesting to see how the franchises go about bolstering their respective line-ups prior to the tournament. The developments during the auction will be followed closely by fans from all over the country, and abroad, who cannot wait for the action to begin.” The term ‘money talks’ works just right in this case.

Clayton Murzello is MiD DAY’s Group Sports Editor

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