It's time Mumbai roars again

Updated: 11 June, 2020 07:24 IST | Clayton Murzello | Mumbai

While former players and fans have expressed concern over a possible design change in the MCA's crest which includes a lion, they are also justified in wanting to see a rise in cricketing stocks.

Pacer Ajit Agarkar, Vinayak Mane, wicketkeeper Vinayak Samant and Wasim Jaffer (right) - all wearing the lion-crested MCA logo - appeal for a verdict against Australia's Justin Langer during the visiting team's tour game against Mumbai at the Brabourne Stadium on October 2, 2004. Pic/Getty Images
Pacer Ajit Agarkar, Vinayak Mane, wicketkeeper Vinayak Samant and Wasim Jaffer (right) - all wearing the lion-crested MCA logo - appeal for a verdict against Australia's Justin Langer during the visiting team's tour game against Mumbai at the Brabourne Stadium on October 2, 2004. Pic/Getty Images

Clayton MurzelloThat a team's colours mean so much to a cricket-loving group that includes former players was manifest in the reaction to Mumbai Cricket Association president Dr Vijay Patil's proposal to alter the logo of the association.

To be fair, it was not a decision; only a presentation, where options of five different logos were placed before the Apex Council during a meeting at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.

Even though it is suggested that the change would only occur on digital platforms, I feel there is no need to modify a fine, presumably well thought-out logo. What difference would it make, I keep wondering.

Dr Patil has been brave in venturing into a sphere that would give rise to more condemnation than kudos. And that sphere is the logo, which to many, is sacrosanct.

To quote from his presentation, "The next milestone in our journey is to bring this legacy closer to the people of Mumbai, connect with them and collectively build a commercially and competitively strong brand." Now, cricket bodies in India thrive on functioning in their cocoon and a lot of their pillars care a rat's behind for the people who make their way through turnstiles to watch their heroes. That someone — who happens to the president of the MCA — is thinking about the average fan can only be good news.

However, this comes at a time when the city's cricket fraternity wants to see brainstorming sessions on what could be done to arrest Mumbai's slump on the domestic scene. It's a time when coaches, who are keen to earn roles in various teams are anxious to know whether they stand a chance. It's also a time when an explanation should be forthcoming about the delay behind the formation of the new Cricket Improvement Committee.

A Mumbai cricket well-wisher pointed out the other day how the MCA has missed out on the opportunity of getting members of their Ranji Trophy and junior squads to pick the brains of the great names in city cricket.

But back to the MCA colours. Each of the five options mentioned in Dr Patil's presentation has the lion and only two logos don't have the name of the association. Cricket Mumbai as opposed to Mumbai Cricket Association is not a change that is unprecedented. Cricket bodies the world over have made that shift, except of course the Board of Control for Cricket in India — which hangs on to that word 'Control' as if its existence depends on it. So Dr Patil gets a big tick in my book for his Cricket Mumbai option.

To find out more about the history behind the Mumbai colours, I pulled out the MCA's Golden Jubilee Commemoration volume published in 1981. The fine job by the editors of this meaty publication (Prof MV Chandgadkar, Anandji Dossa and Sharad Kotnis) not only reflects in the veritable feast of articles written by cricketers like Madhav Mantri, Polly Umrigar, Ajit Wadekar and Sunil Gavaskar, but also in the details of Mumbai's contribution to Indian cricket and the concise history of MCA penned by Prof Chandgadkar.

"It is often willingly stated that it is easier to earn India colours than to receive Bombay colours," wrote Prof Chandgadkar, continuing, "This might seem fallacious and yet one who goes through the records of the Bombay Cricket Association of the last 50 years, is likely to reach this bewildering conclusion. A number of stalwarts had to wait long enough to earn this distinction."

The idea of awarding colours first came up during a managing committee meeting at the Islam Gymkhana on December 16, 1935. The colours — navy blue, red and gold — were approved on February 19, 1937. At a meeting of similar significance on September 29, 1938, it was accepted that the badge (crest) should have a "red lion with gold crown and shield containing the letters, BCA."

Bye-laws adopted at the managing committee meeting of May 18, 1951 restricted the use of the colours by, "persons who have played (but not the reserves who have not played) for the Association in the National Championship for Ranji Trophy matches."

It is not clear who conceptualised the logo with the lion element, but the original 'colours sub-committee' comprising HN Contractor, CP Bransle, Vijay Merchant and AAA Fyzee may have had a major role to play in it. Doubtless, ample thought must have been given to it just like the Dadar Union Sporting Club crest consisting of a Christian cross, the Hindus' trishul, the moon for the Muslims and fire which is symbolic for the Parsees.

Meanwhile, the MCA tie proved to be a popular piece of attire at cricket functions. Prof Chandgadkar says in the history sheets that there was a doubt raised about whether there should be different ties for players and administrators. "This, however, is not within my orbit to trace. I have recorded the past, destiny controls the future, which is unknown," he wrote.

What lies ahead now for the MCA is unknown too. Will the logo change? Will the planned social media activity come to fruition? Will all the guidelines be followed while recruiting coaches and support staff without any conflict of interest cases? And, most importantly, will that lion in Mumbai's colours feel proud again?

mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

The views expressed in this column are the individual's and don't represent those of the paper

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First Published: 11 June, 2020 07:17 IST

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