Wednesday, 16 January 2008

A Chance for the ICC to Act

For an ordinary cricket fan watching the infamous Sydney test evoked feelings of outrage on various counts:

- a lot of fine cricket played seemed irrelevant

- a lot of ugliness was shown on and off the field by everyone who thought they either had a point to prove, a purse-string to pull or a high horse to mount

- a lot of cricketing inequities came to light in a glaring manner

For an Indian cricket fan, the outrage was more acutely felt because a direct result of some of these fiascos was that we head into Perth down 0-2 instead of 0-1, but more on that in the next post.

For the volume of unpleasantness that this test generated it is extremely sad, that we are yet to see a single redeeming feature emerge from it.

It is – finally – widely accepted that the so called ‘elite’ panel of umpires that the ICC has is elite by virtue of one thing only: they are the best of the lot amongst a dwindling bunch. Has the ICC come out with any constructive statement outlining a plan to improve umpiring standards? No.

Have they thought about reviewing umpiring performances at regular intervals? No.

Have they thought about testing umpires to see whether their eyesight and hearing are maintained at the required levels? No.

Have they identified a plan to unearth more quality umpires and bring them into the elite panel? No.

It is belatedly acknowledged that something must be done about on-field chatter, since one man’s monkey may well be another’s bastard.

Has the ICC taken any steps to codifying what is acceptable and what is not? No.

Failing that, have they at least empowered on-field umpires to put a stop to it whenever they feel anything is unacceptable? No

Failing even that, have they at least shown an intent that these issues should be tackled instead of met with vague statements? No.

The entire world and its uncle have given their two-penny worth opinions and tirades after the match, but the giant dinosaur that purports to govern world cricket slumbers on.

Meanwhile, the Indian tour of Australia continues. It has to, for otherwise the IPL could stand to lose some marquee names and consequently big chunks of cash.

The BCCI is run by a politician and he will do as every Indian politician does: shout his ‘I am an Indian, how dare they impugn my honour’ slogan to pacify the angry public with one hand raised, and rake in his millions with the other hand. And the IPL has to succeed, else the egg that Zee TV and Kapil Dev had thrown at the BCCI would make a pretty picture splattered all over the BCCI’s face.

Of course abandoning the tour was never a good idea in the first place. It might have held short term appeal, but Indian cricket has a duty to posterity. And going down in history as a team who essentially abandoned a tour due to one racism charge that they can contest and a handful of umpiring howlers, wouldn’t have been a fitting label for some of the best cricketers India has produced.

This is being touted as the last Australian tour for Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble. It will be a shame if it is remembered only for its controversies.

It will be a shame if Australia does not get to see a glorious symphony of all five performing together one last time, and retains as a last memory only the solos and duets we have seen so far.

No comments: