And the award doesn't go to...
...the BCCI for lack of thoughtfulness when it comes to attaching apt names of ex-greats to various trophies presented on Sunday
It's fine if the BCCI doesn't feel it important to invite the media for their annual awards. It's not fine if they end up making a mockery of Indian cricket history at a time when there is a need to keep perpetuating the memory of their past heroes.
With due respect to the great administrators the BCCI has been fortunate to have, and the fact that officials have been a vital cog in the vehicle which has taken Indian cricket places, there are far too many awards in the name of administrators rather than players. The situation borders on the inane!
Going by the list of awards posted on the BCCI website on the day of the function, there were 10 awards in honour of ex-presidents (M A Chidambaram 4, Jagmohan Dalmiya 4 and Madhavrao Scindia 2). In comparison, only six awards were given away in honour of former cricketers (C K Nayudu 1, Dilip Sardesai 2, Lala Amarnath 2 and Umrigar 1). This imbalance is ridiculous and new president Sourav Ganguly may want to call for a revamp of the BCCI awards.
Ganguly hails from a state unit (Cricket Association of Bengal) that has always been keen on inviting and felicitating former players at international games hosted at the Eden Gardens. The late Dalmiya took pride in having them over in Kolkata and ensured they were well looked after. I remember him inviting Ted Dexter and Nari Contractor – rival captains in the 1961-62 series – to be in Kolkata for the 80 years celebration of India v England Test contests which began in 1932.
Meanwhile, a former India player who attended Sunday's function in Mumbai exclaimed: "There were so many players in the audience but they were not called on stage to give away the awards. It were the administrators all the way."
President Ganguly needs to look at the BCCI awards in a more sensitive, logical way so that the canvass of aptness is spread far and wide. That fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah walks up to receive the Dilip Sardesai Trophy for being the highest Test wicket-taker in the 2018-19 season seems so warped. What stops the Board or their awards committee from having a former bowler's name attached to this award? And who better than Kapil Dev? This year's Dilip Sardesai award was not given to the best performer in a series against West Indies, but to the bowler with the highest number of wickets (Bumrah) and the batsman with most runs (Cheteshwar Pujara); the reason I hear being that West Indies is not the same powerful force as they were.
It is debatable how logical this reasoning is, but it shouldn't be forgotten that the award was instituted keeping in mind that Sardesai scored 642 runs in India's maiden series win against the West Indies in that watershed year of 1971.
Meanwhile, former stumper Farokh Engineer finds himself passed over for the C K Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award yet again, with former captain and entertainer Krishnamachari Srikkanth getting it this year. If the popular Salim Durrani could be chosen for it in 2011, I see no reason why Engineer, another popular player, is being left out. The BCCI apparently has a reason without an official explanation of course that Engineer received a special award a few years ago which rules him out for a lifetime honour. This needs reconsideration even though Engineer made a bad mistake of saying recently that Virat Kohli's wife Anushka was served tea by the selectors during the World Cup.
The decision to award Anjum Chopra the lifetime achievement honour in the women's section needs to be respected and our congratulations to her. That said, some of us expected Diana Edulji would be chosen for it this year since she turned it down last year for good reason. In a statement she said then: "I have learnt that the BCCI awards committee has conferred the award on me. Neither me, nor any other member of the Hon'ble Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators were part of this awards committee.
"However, since I am a member of the Hon'ble Supreme Court-appointed committee of administrators of the BCCI, I do not think it is appropriate for me to accept this honour at this juncture. I have discussed my decision with my family, friends and well wishers who wholeheartedly support my decision not to accept the award during my tenure as a member of the CoA. In fact, I had made my decision very clear last year as well when my name was suggested for this honour. Nevertheless, I would like to thank the members of the BCCI awards committee for considering me worthy of this prestigious honour."
Understandably, the BCCI may not have many people within the organisation who have a sense of cricket history, but Ganguly and Co can invite suggestions from various stakeholders and have those options discussed by a committee.
Ultimately, every award must be made to look meaningful. For example, the best umpire award can be named after A M Mamsa, probably the first top-class Indian umpire to wear the white coat in Test cricket.
And the best debutant award which deservedly went to Mayank Agarwal could well have Gundappa Viswanath's name on the silverware since Vishy was the first Indian batsman to score another century after his Test debut ton. Of course, the record books show he scored 12 more. All earlier century-on-Test-debut scorers ended their careers with a solitary hundred.
And what can be done for the best performance in domestic cricket award? How about naming it after Ajit Wadekar, who led Mumbai to a glorious period of Ranji Trophy domination in the 1960s and 1970s?
The awards didn't exactly get huge column space in newspapers and that could be because the Board did not want the media at the venue. The media won't lose sleep over it, but I wonder what the sponsors of the awards feel about this.
Mileage for sponsors is on the rise the world over, but it's different when it comes to the BCCI awards night. Doesn't seem fine.
mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello
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