Clayton Murzello: A great mess called Indian cricket
All their riches notwithstanding, the BCCI became a lot poorer through the warped handling of the big-star appointments
As soon as it was announced that Zaheer Khan (left) and Rahul Dravid would be batting and bowling consultants, the pundits were convinced that this was done to undermine head coach Ravi Shastri's influence in the team
Almost nothing in Indian cricket happens without an aroma of intrigue, a dash of drama and bowl full of controversy. It was no different in the appointment of the head coach to take over from Anil Kumble.
As soon as it was announced that Rahul Dravid and Zaheer Khan would be batting and bowling consultants, respectively, in the Ravi Shastri-coached team, the pundits were convinced that this was done to undermine Shastri's influence in the team.
To be fair, this theory merited some discussion. Most critics targeted the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, because the panel was entrusted with the job of selecting the coach. The Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) declared that the CAC had over-stepped their brief by roping in Dravid and Zaheer and that the head coach would decide the support staff. The CAC did not take the criticism lying down and in a letter to the CoA stressed that Shastri was informed about the appointment of consultants.
The question is, would the CAC make those appointments without the knowledge and backing of the BCCI? If not (and that seems likely), then the BCCI should be held responsible, because they know better than the CAC that every appointment has to have the sanction of the CoA. It does seem, therefore, that the CAC received flak for the BCCI's doing and that cannot be fair.
It's a sad state of affairs because Dravid and Zaheer's appointments were put on hold. Some are viewing this as an embarrassment of sorts for these two great cricketers. In any case, it reflects poorly on the BCCI and their unique ways of cricket administration.
While the Board's credibility is being chipped at regularly and India has become a laughing stock in world cricket, one BCCI media release caused a good degree of mirth. It was the one sent out on July 12 after Shastri was appointed. It said: "A coach is a mentor to a team. He is a friend and an elder buddy. He has to actively contribute to building up the morale and harmony in the dressing room." When did a head coach become a "buddy", and who writes your scripts, gentlemen?
The release then goes on to educate the media on the role of captain and coach. "Motivating and guiding the players off the ground is the responsibility of the Coach. The captain is the leader and the gladiator on the ground. Any team is always built around the leadership qualities and professionalism of the captain. He is the Face of the team. The coach has to provide backroom support." The BCCI has a responsibility of running the sport in the best way possible and any attempt at defining terms should be restricted to the people concerned with roles. They insist on insulting the intelligence of the media and if they believe they are succeeding in doing that, they'll be caught out soon.
Now that all the appointments are made (except the team manager, which is an important one) and the team has landed in Sri Lanka, it is only right for Team India to look forward and start the journey towards their limited overs and Test match goals, spread over the next two years. Make no mistake, India are a fine side. They have the kind of ammunition to be a strong force even in the sternest of tests, which come in the form of tours to England, South Africa and Australia. It's a good time to be excited about this team.
However, it is probably also an apt time for the well-meaning members of the Board to contemplate the carnage of the last few months. They must think about their image on the world stage and would do well to ask themselves whether they handled things in the best possible way — what could have been done better in the Kohli-Kumble feud, have we been fair to Kumble, is anyone of us ready to talk to him and give him the opportunity to contribute to our cricket again?
To borrow from the modern T20 cricket dictionary, Kumble is that rare 360-degree cricket person: He has first-hand experience of being a top flight player as well as a full-term administrator. He has worked on the first, as well as latest, player contracts. It is he who found a team of MIT researchers to update, modernise and constantly check DRS technologies. He also presented the BCCI with a plan to revamp the creaking National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. He could, in real terms, be an ideal CEO or Director of Cricket for the BCCI. Or could it be that these very qualities make the powerful in Indian cricket uneasy? If there is anyone who could call them out in matters cricketing or administrative, it is Kumble. And Kumble cannot be lost to Indian cricket.
mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello Send your feedback to email@example.com
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