The doyen of cricket commentators Richie Benaud once regarded the willow game as the most controversial sport. While Benaud’s assessment is spot-on, the Indian Premier League soaks the game in bitterness and deceit.
The BCCI picked Mumbai as the host of the Indian Premier League final on June 1, but later decided to award the match to Bangalore.
Obviously, the MCA would be aggrieved to lose such a high profile match and raised the red flag to which the BCCI responded by laying out several conditions to fulfil. Those conditions — like allowing all team owners including Kolkata Knight Riders’ Shah Rukh Khan who is banned from entering the Wankhede Stadium — could have been made at the start of the tournament. If this is viewed as a gun-to-the-head demand, there is a degree of merit in this.
As in most cases, the BCCI’s communication to the media as to why Wankhede was dropped for the final was negligible although the BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel was quick to react when the MCA members handed over their accreditations to indicate that they won’t work for IPL games. “It’s their wish as to whether they want to work or not. No one can force anyone to work,” Patel was quoted saying.
Rumour has it that MCA president Sharad Pawar slamming the BCCI for suspending the Rajasthan Cricket Association, which has Lalit Modi as its president, didn’t go down well with the BCCI top brass. Hence, the snub to MCA whose chief is reported to be in the anti-N Srinivasan camp. It’s a great pity that a state association is up against the parent body. This battle is for real and hopefully, it will not come in the way of a) Mumbai hosting important matches, b) dedicated MCA administrators being overlooked in important administrative positions within the BCCI and most importantly c) Mumbai cricketers being unfairly treated when it comes to national recognition.
This is not to say that the national selectors are biased, but they can be made to follow unwritten diktats from the upper house so to speak.
Overall, the MCA vs BCCI battle is giving rise to cricket, ugly cricket!