Administratively, world cricket is in a mess. And for this sad state of affairs, Yahaluweni, you need to point fingers at most countries that are full members of the International Cricket Council - the Test nations and those who are, in some cases, allegedly elected to run the game.
Heading the list is the arrogant Board of Control for Cricket in India with the ace manipulator, Lalit Modi, the Machiavellian puppet-master, leader of the pack. As commissioner of the Indian Premier League, he wants to tell other countries how to run their affairs, around his willful IPL offspring.
Already, they are making rude noises over Clive Lloyd’s comments, suggesting the former West Indies captain step down as the Cricket committee Chairman of the International Cricket Council’s advisory body on how to improve the game. If you remember, this is the post which was held by India’s former captain, Sunil Gavaskar and includes a committee whose members are past Test players.
Well, really, guys. The BCCI are making rude noises over nothing. This is not a Harbhajan Singh episode of whether or not the word ‘monkey’ was used to express an opinion of Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds. That was during the fractious New Year Test in Sydney and led to the replacement of umpire Steve Bucknor, another West Indian.
This suggests that certain Asian countries, or their spectators and administrators, have a problem with those whose ethnicity and West Indies label are the result of the abhorrent slave trade. Does this now mean those with African ancestry are unacceptable? Photographs of certain Mumbai spectators and their ‘Monkey’ chants during Australia’s tour last year are still vivid enough to suggest there is some truth in this horrendous label.
Whatever the BCCI are ranting about, Lloyd’s utterances are fair enough and in the current climate, acceptable. He has been around long enough and at least strapped on pads for the collection of islands, which goes by the title West Indies, which belong to the West Indies Cricket Board. Or, if you will, that area long known as the old British Caribbean for want of an identification tag.
Lloyd’s remarks are of the wish how the Indian Cricket League and the BCCI’s offspring the IPL should be allowed to co-exist. After all, the ICL idea was the plan by the Essel group who in turn are the owners of Zee TV to launch an attractive short game version for their viewers. If you know the background to this, it doesn’t come as a surprise how the BCCI have been vindictive about any number of promotions that come out of the Essel stable.
One is a sports magazine, the sale of which is banned at all BCCI venues because it is not an ‘approved’ sports magazine. This explains just how petty are Modi and the BCCI. To take some form of umbrage over Lloyd’s comments is diverting criticism of an already festering issue: how the designs of the IPL circus are trying to dictate the domestic structure of the game in other countries.
Lloyd, a fair-minded man was a great captain, should shake his head in disappointment at the spoiled brat attitude of someone as narcissistic as is Modi and the rest of the cretinous BCCI mob that is damaging the image of the game by their threatened thuggery. It suggests how the BCCI are now trying to tell the rest of the cricket world that any comments regarding Indian cricket should be submitted first to the BCCI for sanitising, before being allowed to appear in print or are to be spoken.
In Gavaskar’s case, when he was chairman of this particular ICC committee, he was also involved with the media and had been writing columns. Lloyd is involved in ICC and West Indies affairs and not the media, which explains that there is a major difference and someone should tell the BCCI to stop trying to bully others.
This not only smacks of draconian censorship, but a type of apartheid that should have been dead and buried in 1994. It also suggests that the ICC, under Sharad Pawar’s presidency, will allow the egotists within the BCCI, to control the game and his sidekick Modi, a share in running the sport.
This is why it needs someone as abrasive as Giles Clark, the England (and Wales) Cricket Board chairman, to tell Modi in either French or Arabic, which he speaks fluently, where to take his biased opinions. Anyway, both have egos the size of Niagara Falls. The pity is that Modi hasn’t yet tried the Houdini trick of going over them in a barrel.
So far, the banning of ICL players has to be tested in the courts and when the matter does eventually reach that legal level, Modi will have to shut his mouth and sit and wait for the verdict. But it will also be interesting to see what the BCCI say about Javed Miandad’s comments that Pakistan need the ICL players to boost their squad. What will Modi and his henchmen make of such comments?
Suggestions from close colleagues in India say that they will be brushed aside and that if the Pakistan Cricket Board knows what is good for it with the cash needed from the India tour, Miandad will be told to concentrate on his new role as director general of the PCB and not make gentle waves over such issues.
As for the Zimbabwe issue, friends continue to send emails about rampant inflation, growing starvation, poverty, declining health and are critical that at a time as this, Sri Lanka have a cricket team touring the landlocked nation.
Last week, the ICC sent a fact-finding mission to have a look at the country... Er, correction, the cricket structures and facilities in the country. Dr. Julian Hunte and the ICC Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat were more fortunate than former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, the one-time US President, Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel-Mandela.
This trio were hoping to assess the humanitarian disaster in Zimbabwe, but as predicted by those in the know in Johannesburg, Robert Mugabe’s pals don’t want such distinguished world figures poking their noses around in ‘Uncle Bob’s fiefdom’. One horrific story that landed in my in email tray the other day tells of how some of the starving try to survive: eating leaves off trees, grass and cleaning dung for undigested maize.
In which case, it would be interesting to know just what Peter Chingoka and the rest of Cricket Zimbabwe showed Dr. Hunte and Lorgat. It wouldn’t be such images as those described in such news reports. As it is, there are serious concerns about the structure of the game brought about by the Mugabe regime.
Lorgat, who as a young man had often run the gauntlet of discrimination and brutalisation of his kith and kin in the apartheid years, would know from his own atrocious experiences what to look for and make notes accordingly.
Considering all this, it is to be expected how in two limited overs games against Sri Lanka, not only were they out of their depth. Tatenda Taibu’s remarks on a website a week or so ago, of how politics has wrecked the game in the landlocked African nation shows the obvious: not only are there serious deficiencies in their batting technique, but bowling and fielding levels as well. Major questions need to be asked if there is a genuine future for them as a full member of the ICC.
If anyone thought that Zimbabwe’s players were capable of anything other than attending a series of coaching clinics to improve their game, it is time for a serious rethink. There is no quality in what had been shown on television and the ICC need to ask themselves whether screening such games is doing the product any good at all.
While emails from a couple of South African friends highlight the sheer dilemma, now facing Zimbabwe’s starving and sick as their politicians squabble over how to run a government of national unity, the ICC’s fact-finding mission has a lot of hard wok ahead of it. To expect the team of two to come up with answers after a three-day exercise is asking for the impossible.
As it is the third member of that fact-finding team, Arjuna Ranatunga didn’t leave Sri Lanka. He had other matters on his mind, busy telling parliament about the financial ills of his own board and creating a fuss, which also suggests further diversionary tactics. The old blame game is one thing, finding corrective answers is quite another matter.
What should also be said of those now unfairly pillaring Mahela Jayawardene and other Sri Lanka players over their IPL contracts, it’s time to get a life.
Take the position of South African swing and seam bowler Charl Langeveldt. Marginalised by a selection policy, he withdrew from playing for South Africa and signed a Kolpak contract with Derbyshire. Such is the wording of the agreement, he cannot play for South Africa for three years.
As the coach, Mickey Arthur has admitted more than once, Langeveldt’s expertise and seniority would be of help to younger bowlers in the Protea’s squad. But being tied to Derbyshire, he is no longer available and the fault here has been the folly of a selection policy, where colour was used, instead of merit.
The point here, is that there is NO tour of England next year, it has been postponed, and for this, the blame should be focussed on Modi and the BCCI who would not allow the players an escape clause. For those critics of the players, have a look at the ICC’s Future Tours Programme on the ICC’s website before making misguided comments.