Under Marathas, Cricket India Meets

its Panipat at Lords

"The people of India - they are the ones whose attention, enthusiasm and love and support drive the great game, and business, of cricket in this country, and around the world." Greg Chappell.

"Cup loses fizz as big teams fall" wrote Scyld Berry in Sunday Telegraph after India was knocked out of 2007 world Cup, adding "Nobody is going to watch the advertisements designed for the hundreds of millions of Indian viewers aspiring to a mobile phone, a motorbike, a fizzy drink or a refrigerator." (So if Indian public gets dis-enchanted with Test cricket, the moolah will vanish)

"Two pearls have been dissolved, 27 gold coins have been lost and of the silver and copper the total cannot be cast up". After this cryptic message of total debacle at Panipat, Hindustan’s strongman Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao died a broken man.

In modern setting, Maratha strong man Sharad Pawar, now head of International Cricket Council (ICC) and his cronies have dominated and controlled the cricket’s richest Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for over a decade and now his nominee, another Maratha leader, Vilasrao Deshmukh defeated Dileep Vengsarkar, a former Indian great bat (with 3 centuries at the Lords). But the ministers have not taken any responsibility for the debacle, nor resigned. Gandhian civil activist Anna Hazare leading a movement against all pervasive corruption in India has openly accused Pawar of corruption. The 26/11 rape of Mumbai took place under Deshmukh , then heading the Maharashtra state government remains a minister in Delhi, in spite of being judicially indicted; more below.

The defeat at 3rd battle of Panipat 130  kms north of Delhi in 1761 (the earlier two battles at Panipat were equally devastating for the sovereignty of Hindustan and its wellbeing) between Afghans led by Ahmad Shah Abdali and the Marathas, under the command of Sadashivrao Bhau, with an army of around 50,000 with over  200,000 non-combatants cost Hindustan dearly. The Maratha forces had not prepared adequately. Leadership was faulty. Abdali’s Afghan forces by the end of November 1760 had cut off almost all food supplies into the besieged Maratha camp. Running out of food, an unfit army was forced to fight in order to stave off starvation. The battle was and raged till evening. It is believed that between 60,000–70,000  were killed in, the numbers of the injured and prisoners taken was very high. The result of the battle was the halting of further Maratha advances in the North, and a destabilization of their territories and Hindustan for nearly 10 years.

Like at Panipat, Indian XI carried unfit and injured Zahir Khan and Sehwag among others.

Demoralized India’s Test cricket is not going to recover from this crushing drubbing any time soon.

How the Brits Crow!

“But with this bowling line up you wonder how the hell India is going to take England wickets without Zaheer Khan. Even more so, you wonder how they got to number one in the world,” Geoffrey Boycott

"England will win this series - they are already the best team in the world and -the coming force in world cricket and unlike India, who have a lot of players in their twilight years, this is a young, vibrant England with more power to add, "Ian Botham.

"I am so pleased that England won because they set the perfect template on how you should prepare for and then perform in a very important game of Test cricket. India were exactly the opposite. They just turned up with totally inadequate preparation and expected everything to be alright on the night. Do they not value their status as the best Test team in the world? They did not seem to here," Nasser Hussein , former English Captain in the Daily Mail.

Wrote Selvey in the Guardian, 

“After two such overwhelming wins by England it is clear, rankings or no rankings, where the balance of power lies in the Test match arena. Quite simply, England are an inspirational team, one of the very best that they have fielded for decades, while India, at the moment, are a collection of individuals, some of them giants of the game, but lacking the obvious cohesion and sense of purpose that their opponents carry with them.” “England have shown their capacity to fight their way out of a corner on more than one occasion over the past couple of years, while India, as a team, look bereft of that spirit which can overcome adversity,” he added.

The English exhibit sportsman spirit condescendingly only when they are winning by praising the opposition for their ‘jolly good show‘ and other such otiose observations. They have been chaffing that all good teams from the subcontinent they once ruled have beaten them. Most money comes to cricket boards around the world from Cricket India’s contributions. Most retired cricketers from England and elsewhere are suddenly making big money by writing for Indian media and as commentators, so were carefully polite.

But for this reality they would have been as savage as in the past. Not that the Indian jokers controlling and mismanaging cricket have not blundered and let down India’s population of 1.2 billion, since the only major sport India has done well and Indians can take pride is cricket. If humiliated, the people could turn away even more from Test cricket and stick to IPL. The Test cricket around the world would suffer with much less funds for cricket boards other than India’s Pawar & Co must be forced to leave, they could go to another greener pasture having done enough harm to cricket.

Comments by former Indian cricketers

“BCCI is not going to show a great deal of vision”, former Indian Captain Nawab of Pataudi

"I don't want to sound a pessimist but I am actually (being) fair that players are going to say that it's only a bad dream, just forget it and get on. BCCI is not going to show a great deal of vision. Cricket will continue the way it is but I sincerely hope that some sense does come in," Pataudi said. He refused to criticize Virender Sehwag for the unimpressive comeback following a shoulder injury. "Even if you look at Tiger Woods, it is difficult to make comeback ". 

"There's no point discussing his [Harbhajan Singh] lack of flight or lack of spin or his action because we have been doing that for years," said Bishen Singh Bedi, former spin legend (Harbhajan  conceded 218 runs for a single wicket at Lord's).

"What are these highly-paid coaches doing? The results are not showing. What is Fletcher doing?”, Farokh Engineer former Indian batsman-wicketkeeper.

Former captain Sourav Ganguly said;

"You can lose Test matches but losing three in a row and not scoring any big total, it is something to be worried about.  Is it a one-off affair or the beginning of the demise of the side, we have to see," said Ganguly.

Another former captain Anil Kumble said that India now need to groom four or five young players to replace veterans like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.

"You need to spot four-five players and invest on them, to ensure that they carry the responsibility of Indian cricket in future in place of the veterans. We have Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir," Kumble said.  "They have to be given a long rope. You may not see India to come back at the top in quick time. But we have to ensure that with these youngsters, we remained in top three and climb to top spot after a few years," he said.

Frankly were never numero uno like the West Indies team or the Australian team. Indian caliber is number 3 or so. Indian happened to be called top test team, while the famed Australian team after the retirements of Glen McGrath, Shane Warne, Gillchrist, Steve Waugh and others and is re-building itself. The English have been building their team since years and has now reached the peak.

Because of Cricket India’s massive money power, players and cricket writers from other cricketing nations avoided telling the truth. Former Indian players and writers also would not like to point out the weaknesses and come out with the harsh truth. They get paid for writing columns and as commentators. Then there is the overwhelming power of the advertisers in Indian corporate media, specially the celebrity and trivia obsessed so called national channels. It has always amused me how many TV women anchors gush forth while interviewing Indian film stars and cricketers almost as if wetting in their panties.

Not a single century in his six innings in England
for Sachin Tendulkar.

Indians have this habit of speculating with imagination running riot. Suddenly, all kinds of politicians to earn brownie points with the voters started recommending for Sachin Tendulkar India’s highest honor of Bharat Ratna (Pearl of India) even changing the law for this, wishfully hoping that at the Lords itself Sachin would by divine right score a century and complete his century of centuries. That put unnecessary pressure on Sachin. He could not even reach his highest at the Lords, a measly 37. Not a single century in his six innings in England. A telling commentary on the bowling strength of MCC.

Some Sick Joke on 1.2 Billion Indians

BCCI, a Registered Society, registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India is a private society registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, with its headquarters at Mumbai. It is the national governing body for all cricket activities in India. The board was formed in December 1928 as BCCI replaced Calcutta Cricket Club. It often uses government-owned stadiums across the country at a nominal annual rent. It is a "private club consortium". Basically to become a member of a state-level association, one needs to be introduced by another member and also pay an annual fee. The state-level clubs select their representatives (secretaries) who in turn select the BCCI officials. BCCI are not required to make their balance sheets public. In the past, tax exemptions were granted to BCCI on the grounds as promoting cricket was a charitable activity but for the last three years the IPL has questioned this. 

As a member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), it is authorized to select players, umpires and officials to participate in international events and exercises total control over them. Without its recognition, no competitive cricket involving BCCI-contracted Indian players can be hosted within or outside the country.

In 2000, Rahul Mehra, a lawyer and cricket lover, initiated a public interest litigation (PIL) against the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), demanding transparency and accountability in the way cricket is run in the country.

The BCCI responded by arguing that it was a private society and that the Indian team was not a national side, but one picked by the BCCI. Therefore, it could not be subjected to a PIL of any sort.

The court quashed this contention, thus establishing that the BCCI is, indeed, answerable to the public.

BCCI remains embroiled in the biggest controversy and facing many uncomfortable questions, like the dictatorial power to run a lucrative league such as the IPL? Why aren’t rules, rather than the whims of an individual, governing important processes such as franchisee auctioning? What prevented others in the BCCI from taking action?

In an interview with DNA, Mehra raised many valid points and said that we need to take a hard look at the way office-bearers are elected in the BCCI and the state associations that come under it. But the reforms won’t come from within the BCCI; the government has to step in to clean up the act.

Clearly, the BCCI and IPL administrations need reforms. But nobody [within the BCCI] will carry them out because they have their vested interests. It has to be an outside agency. It has to be the sports ministry because the BCCI is performing a public function. The government should say we will de-recognize you if you don’t toe our line. They could say that we will take away your right to select Team India.

The point is that there has to be political will at the Centre, because obviously this is not going to come from within the BCCI.

Indian Premier League & Lalit Modi

For all his faults Lalit Modi out foxed the British by creating a billion dollar brand 20-20 Indian Premier League (IPL) outmaneuvering the English attempts to create an English League and then to dip into the rich Indian pie. Fat cats and hangers on of BCCI, who now control IPL, badmouth and talk rubbish against Modi are just time servers, incompetents and opportunists. They are accomplices in any wrong doing.  Undeservedly, they are making hay after the expulsion of Modi with little accountability.

Of course in Hindu India, where supporting relatives, friends, caste men, co-religionists and others is ‘Dharma’ irrespective of merit, there is no comprehension of the term conflict of interest. The Secretary of BCCI who owns Chennai Super Kings sees no conflict of interest in this tie up. It is a matter of regret that the Supreme Court under its previous leadership did not allow free competition in cricket and assassinated Indian Cricket League, which was inaugurated before IPL.  20/20 remains a cash cow for politicians and some bureaucrats while the interests of cricket and players suffer.

The Supreme Court under the new leadership should rescue cricket from the corrupt, time servers, opportunists, using cricket for personal gains but contributing little to this game, which has become almost a religion for the Indian masses.

Fortunately, after Saurav Ganguly took over as captain, after Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja (many escaped) were banned (but are back), match fixing is presumably eliminated. Being from rich family and well educated, he could give it back to the likes of Steve Waugh and other white players on field and in verbal exchanges. Except for his partiality for Parthiev Patel as mascot which kept Mahinder Singh Dhoni away from Team India, he was fair in insisting on team selection on merit and not on the basis of regions and states (although Bengalis, including members of Parliament foolishly took up Saurav’s cause, when he was rightly kept out of the Team India). The current team of selectors led by Srikkant has favored south Indian cricketers like Badrinath, (had enough rope) one Mukul and even his own son for emerging players team sent on a tour of down under. Srikkant should go.

It is a major misfortune that almost all sports organizations in India are controlled by corrupt politicians or their henchmen, including Cricket. Nothing seems likely to change with the current structure controlled by almost all fitting the definition of ‘elected and electable’ TYRANTS during ancient Greece political evolution. Ruling dynasties and families, across the political spectrum, have created a mafia like corrupt criminal system and structures prior to the revolutions in France, Russia, Turkey, China and Iran, to name a few prominent examples. But do not hold your breath. We are peaceful non-violent people or rather lacking courage and fervor for sacrifice, everyone in his place ordained by the caste system and dharma which has religious sanction.

Like the cancer of corruption which has deeply eaten into the very fiber and soul of Indian polity, the same unfortunate malady afflicts sports in India, which politicians use to control funds and patronage for personal political and monetary gains. In India, even a peon cannot be transferred without a politician’s or his henchman’s approval, so there will be little improvement in sports or in the life of aam aadmi (common man).

 “—party (Congress is)  a 'circus' and - that every Congressman wants to connect with this circus,” former minister for sports and Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar. 

For its size and population, India was never a great force to reckon with in military matters outside Indian borders or economic terms in history, nor will it be unless a revolution transforms its polity and an outlook based on merit, equality before law and accountability.

It is clear that the political elite with the same corrupt practices, favoritism, no accountability which informs India’s feudal polity has cricket under its control. When cricket began attracting huge sums, Sharad Pawar, entered this lucrative game and defeated former ace cricketer Ajit Wadekar (winner of first ever cricket series abroad in West Indies and England) and this time, Pawar, who by virtue of the wealth derived from India’s aam aadmis’ love for cricket (80% of money) maneuvered his nominee Vilashrao Deshmukh since politicians control all levers of power and coercion including police, income tax and other departments. Any one not toeing the politicians dictate is just hounded out with police cases and other litigation.

Dhoni as Captain

While it is true that MS Dhoni after taking over as captain, first won 20/20 World cup and the Commonwealth Bank series in Australia in 2008 stunning not just the Australians but other skeptics too. Prior to the England tour Dhoni had lost just three Tests as captain but that count has doubled in 3 heavy defeats in a row in England.

Dhoni, a raw youth from Ranchi took a lowly job as ticket collector, that is what might he might have been but for the riches that excellence in cricket has bestowed on him. He earns around 10 million dollars per year from cricket mostly by advertising. While complaining that he could not spend enough time with his family in Ranchi, he inadvertently reportedly admitted that in last year or so he had been to a 5 Star deluxe hotel in Mumbai a hundred times i.e. spending 300 days or so. It certainly was not all for cricket. Must be for Ads shoots! Why no one grudges him and others the riches from cricket, if he fails to deliver, he might meet the fate of his comrade, perhaps more talented Yuvraj Singh, who aptly summed up his plight in an ad. As long as his bat performs, he lives like a lord otherwise in he is dumped. He knows it, since lack of application and fitness has blighted a superb talent. He who had hit India’s current nemesis Stuart Broad for six soaring sixes in one over in 20/20 world championship in 2007 is a pathetic caricature of that broad bat.

Comments by Wasim Akram

Let me finally give space to Wasim Akram, former Pakistani captain and ace fast bowler on India's crushing defeat at Lord's. He said that it exposed the flaws in BCCI's planning and proved that the world's numero uno Test team was not fully prepared for the tour of England. He felt that India's humiliating 196 runs loss to England at Lord's was because of BCCI's faulty tour itinerary.

"The importance of good governance in cricket can never be overemphasized. Indian cricket has thrived because the BCCI is run quite efficiently. But this game of cricket tends to expose flaws, not only batting or bowling defects but the manner in which our officials plan," Akram told a cricket website.

"There has been quite a debate about India's preparedness for the series in England...the Caribbean tour wasn't the best preparation for England and the massive defeat at Lord's has proved that," he insisted.

Akram referred to ICC's Tours Programs and felt that BCCI could have planned Indian team's schedule in a much better way.

"To be world No. 1 is a great feeling, but cricket, like any competitive sport, has no comfort zone. The importance of the ICC calendar and Future Tours Program is enormous," he said.

"One must remember that BCCI's strength lies in its players and their ability. It's foolish to kill the bird that lays golden eggs. Hence, good governance also means wisdom in deciding a calendar and knowing what is the maximum amount of cricket your top players must play.

"England must have planned their calendar in a manner to ensure that their team would be at its peak when India visited their shores. So playing Sri Lanka at home was the ideal preparation ahead of the India series," said added the 45-year-old.

"Thus, a three-day match versus Somerset was just not enough for an Indian team that was regrouping in England," Akram said.

He continued that India paid the price at Lord's for playing too much cricket.

"It was not surprising when quite a few senior players complained of fatigue or illness after the IPL. I have always said Indians play too much cricket and somewhere down the line, you will pay a price," Akram said. (Those like Gavaskar and others who claim that as professionals Indians should keep on playing all the time are wrong as results show. Yes, more tours mean more money in millions of rupees as commentator to him).

"England's win highlighted what a team that stays and works together can do. The fact that Kevin Pietersen's double century was only one among several bright spots in the English campaign at Lord's only tells how solid England as a unit is."

Akram praised Praveen Kumar and said, "I had thought Praveen would struggle in English conditions because of his lack of pace, but he was extremely impressive. Praveen was nippy and is improving day by day," he said. (Akram should have known better. It were the likes of Alec Bedser with his fast medium once swing bowling who more than matched the Australians in 1950s , who had speedsters like Ray Lindwall and Kieth Miller.)

My own assessment at 2nd days lunch at Lords , before the farcical sight of wicketkeeper Dhoni taking off his pads and bowling almost 10 overs .What stupidity of planning and team selection.


More by :  K. Gajendra Singh

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Views: 3421      Comments: 1

Comment One of the problem in India is that too much hype is created around successful sports person.Just after the world cup win, Indian cricketeers were given the status of God. Similarly so much was written about Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza or the Indian athletes.No one has risen to status again before being glorified too much. There is moderation to everything which is lacking in the Indian people and the media.

18-Aug-2011 17:19 PM

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