DECEMBER 01, 2014

Indian cricket

Indian cricket on a downward spiral

Psychologist Shiv Visvanathan explains his journey as a cricket fan in Deccan Chronicle and says the game has become highly politicised in recent times, with money gaining far too much say. He is also unimpressed with the silence of reputed voices in the wake of the IPL scandal and the media's part in going along with the charade.

Yet, cricket was changing. It was becoming corporate. Many a politician from Modi, Jaitley, Pawar saw in cricket a parallel politics, with cricket coffers surfeit with currency. Money and power were temptations and when cricket became an extension of matka and the betting industry, I realised the tail was controlling the dog. Sadly media betrayed it. True there were the Tehelka investigations and yet one realised that the Shastris, the Boria Majumdars, the Harsha Bhogles were adding smartness without reflexivity.

One just had to read Sachin Tendulkar's autobiography, to comprehend the inanity of the new cricketing mind. One also discovered that greats like Kumble, Dravid, Dhoni, were merely overpaid vassals of cricket-hungry corporations.

AUGUST 27, 2014

Indian cricket

Is India's connection with fans failing?

India, at least in the latter stages, barely played the kind of cricket that would attract crowds during their recent tour of England. As much hold as the sport has in the country, the efforts of the BCCI to control how much the players share with the media and by extension their fans has resulted in a deterioration of their bond with the people, writes Tanya Aldred in the Telegraph.

And yet for what? It means that Indian fans and the cricket-loving public overseas with a romantic soft spot for India no longer feel such affection for their cricketers. Aside from M S Dhoni and poor Virat Kohli, who could not get a run this summer, how many of the current touring side do people know about? Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a bowler from the scissor-factory town of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, who did not even have a pair of cricket boots before his under-17 trial and who as a young man bowled Tendulkar for his first first-class duck in Indian domestic cricket? Cheteshwar Pujara, the teenage triple-century sensation who has tried to make his way in Test cricket the old-fashioned way? Without knowledge, will fans support their side when the going gets tough?

JUNE 27, 2014

ICC annual conference 2014

Cricket makes 'a fool of itself'

The doubts over N Srinivasan's status in the BCCI and the investigations against his IPL franchise and son-in-law for allegations of corruption did not hinder his appointment as the ICC's first chairman after a restructure of the world governing body. Chloe Saltau, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, says the support Srinivasan has received from other ICC members does not help improve the game's image when it comes to fighting corruption.

Even if, as Srinivasan says, he is proven to have done nothing wrong, the fact that other members of the ICC endorsed him for the chairmanship hardly inspires confidence in their collective desire to stamp out corruption from the sport.

JUNE 09, 2014

India cricket

'All investigations till now are independent silos'

In an interview with the Week, former Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar shares his views on the fixing scandal of IPL 2013 and the ongoing probe led by Justice Mukul Mudgal. Kumar stresses the need for further investigation and says the focus should be on pursuing all loose ends across different cities.

"The committee should look at the bigger picture. All investigations till now are independent silos. One module each in Chennai, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi. They have to be put together. All leads related to the names in the sealed envelope should be followed."

MAY 23, 2014


BCCI should do better to restore fans' faith - Bhogle

Harsha Bhogle, in his column for Indian Express, a long tournament like the IPL can fall prey to spot-fixing. Unfavourable sources could take advantage of an event where one match is forgot in the wake of the next. This heightens the need to be more vigilant, if the fan's support is to be safeguarded.

With power comes this responsibility and at the first whiff of impropriety, they need to come down hard. The BCCI can argue they did precisely that by banning Sreesanth and the others almost immediately but by their opposition to the Mudgal Commission they have got the public concerned. Like all organisations they must feel the pulse of the consumers, the fans, and while the public enjoy watching the IPL, as indeed I do, there is a growing feeling that the BCCI isn't trying hard enough to convince them that they are watching a fair contest everytime. And as more revelations, like those from Vincent and others that gave testimony, tumble out, the need to reach out to the public must grow even stronger.

MAY 03, 2014

Indian cricket

Mudgal panel a welcome change

Pradeep Magazine recalls an investigation into Indian cricketers over a similar kind of scandal that is presently cloaked over the IPL. In Hindustan Times, he highlights the efficacy of Justice Mukul Mudgal's committee by contrasting the ongoing probe with proceedings from 17 years ago when he had to depose in front of a former Chief Justice.

Even today, much wiser and aware of the dodgy ways of the world, I recoil in dismay and horror at the experience I had that day at Mumbai's Cricket Club of India. Chandrachud was not interested in knowing anything about the veracity of my encounter with the bookie. Instead, he was keener on talking in generalities and looking at the game through the prism of the romantic British elite worldview, where cricket meant fair play and high moral values! When I did make an attempt to tell him about my encounter with the bookie, he just uttered "leave it" to signal the conclusion of our meeting.

APRIL 23, 2014

Indian cricket

To thwart BCCI stalling

The BCCI-suggested three-man probe panel was at least two-thirds fair until the far-reaching influence of the BCCI made it obsolete. With the Supreme Court rejecting them, Suresh Menon, in Wisden India believes it is high time the proper authorities are given greater control of the investigation into alleged corruption in the IPL.

But professional investigators have to come into it too: the CBI, the police forces in Delhi, Mumbai and Tamil Nadu. In another month, it will be a year since television pictures of a player with a towel tucked into his trousers shocked a nation. In all that time, the BCCI has merely stonewalled the investigation. Many wasted meetings, air fares, hotel accommodations and daily allowances later, it has nothing to show for its efforts to clean up the game. Neither the spirit nor the flesh is willing.

MARCH 31, 2014

Indian cricket

The conflicts of interest that hamper Gavaskar

Sandipan Deb, in the Mint, writes that Sunil Gavaskar can only maintain his personal authority in his role as the interim BCCI chief if he resolves his own conflict-of-interest issues.

So, Gavaskar is an administrator, commentator, possibly BCCI's covert representative on TV, and agent of Indian cricketers, all at the same time. If this not conflict of interest, what is? In addition, he is an NRI based in the United Arab Emirates, where, coincidentally enough, the first phase of IPL7 is going to be played. The choice of the UAE as venue has been controversial, since India has avoided playing there for years because the region is the global headquarters of cricket betting, and IPL6 was hit by a huge betting scandal which led to the whole Supreme Court business.

FEBRUARY 20, 2014

India cricket

Keeping control of Indian sport within the family

While N Srinivasan's grip over Indian and world cricket is well known, the circle of influence extended deeper into the family after his brother N Ramachandran was elected president of the Indian Olympic Association. In Tehelka, V Krishnaswamy profiles the brothers who now hold the most coveted positions in Indian sport.

Indian sports can be divided into two categories -- cricket and the rest (that means Olympic sports). One brother, 'Srini' held the reins in cricket and 'Rami' was the master of the rest. Under normal circumstances, that would merit a headline by itself: Brothers ruling Indian sport. Alas, not all stories are fairytales.

OCTOBER 06, 2013

The ICC fails to beat Afghanistan

Jarrod Kimber: Mean cricket administrators make the best soap operas, don't they?
OCTOBER 04, 2013

Indian cricket

'Power behind the throne'

IPL chief executive Sundar Raman flies under the radar, but he is seen as the mastermind behind BCCI's finances. From inking sponsorship deals, dealing with the media and also negotiating with the respective boards of other countries, Raman's responsibilities are key to the swelling of BCCI's coffers. Anjali Doshi, in Open, explores the rise of a man who was rejected by the Indian Institute of Management, one of the top business schools in the country, but now forms a vital part of a $3.3 billion enterprise

The spotlight over the past few years has been on powerful and seen-to-be-powerful officials like N Srinivasan, Lalit Modi, Sharad Pawar and Jagmohan Dalmiya. But since the exit of Modi, his former boss, in 2010, Raman has been the man taking the key decisions: negotiating and signing off with cricket boards on the T&Cs of bilateral tours, dealing with sponsors, broadcasters and the media to ensure the Board squeezes out every last dollar's worth, and exercising the 21st century right of any self-respecting BCCI official--showing the ICC who is in charge.

SEPTEMBER 23, 2013

India's tour of South Africa

South Africa, India and a troubled tour

The vexed South Africa-India series has given rise to a debate, between two of the game's better-known commentators, on the rights and wrongs. In his column for Star Sports website on September 20, Harsha Bhogle analyses the current predicament of the India-South Africa series and suggests that cricket boards around the world must create a financial system independent of India to ensure their economic stability.

South Africa, for example, can ask themselves why they got into a situation where their cricket economy was so dependent on an external power that is always more likely to do what suits itself first. It is just likely that one of the conclusions will be that it was the easy, lazy option to take. If an Indian tour guaranteed a lot of money, it also meant that you didn't need to create other parallel revenue sources to insure against untoward happenings. And it would seem to me, even if I am looking at it from afar, that other cricket playing countries too therefore need to create such a parallel economy. Again there is a similar situation affecting India. If the US decided they would halve all software and business process outsourcing to India (however unlikely that would be but this is meant to be an illustration), we would be similarly hit. It wouldn't help if Indian companies complained about the big bad bully who was taking away jobs, they would just have to develop other capabilities and find other revenue sources.

In his response to Bhogle's column, Gideon Haigh, writing in his blog in the Australian, retorts that the argument doesn't hold much sway, because the issue concerns cricket boards and the game of cricket itself is dependent on " some rough-and-ready idea of equality".

SEPTEMBER 20, 2013

India cricket

Memories of a jolly raconteur

In his column for Wisden India, Saurabh Somani pays tribute to former BCCI secretary Jaywant Lele, who died on Thursday, and recounts an evening spent with one of Indian cricket's most colourful characters, listening to anecdotes.

Over the course of conversation with Lele, it struck me that his yarns would best be enjoyed with a glass of whiskey, rum or whatever else your chosen poison was, sitting around a fire, and listening. He was a mine of information, he was enthralling, even occasionally amusing, and he forced you to be a good journalist, not reporting verbatim but sifting fact from fiction and getting dates and names right.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2013

The plight of being Indian today

Sidin Vadukut: Are we answerable for the excesses of our cricket board? Hell, no
SEPTEMBER 17, 2013

South African cricket

South Africa's domestic players brace for impact

South Africa versus India was billed as one of the premier clashes of the 2013 calendar. Now, however, the tour is almost certain to be stunted from the original three Tests, if not abandoned altogether as the respective boards are locked in a power struggle. If the tour is scrapped, not only will the fans be deprived of some great cricket, Cricket South Africa's finances will also take a big hit. Every domestic cricketer could end up losing R160,000, writes Neil Manthorp in Business Day.

In South Africa the percentage of Cricket SA's (CSA's) gross revenue that comes the way of the players is a little under 20%. If India's tour of South Africa at the end of 2013 is severely curtailed, as it now has to be if it is not cancelled altogether, the likely loss of revenue to CSA will be in the region of R200m. Twenty percent of that is R40m, of which 40% goes directly to the domestic players in the six franchises, a sum of about R2.7m. Each franchise has a contracted squad of about 17 players, which breaks down to an average of R160,000 per player.

SEPTEMBER 08, 2013

'If it's a permeable surface, go whiz'

Beige Brigade: The boys from BYC get the last word in on pitch urination. They also discuss Ashes stats, Hadlee's solution for fixing, New Zealand's series against Bangladesh and India, and finally review a book (but it's not on cricket)
AUGUST 03, 2013

It all evens out in the end

Michael Jeh: If you don't walk when you know you've nicked it, there's no reason you should feel aggrieved if the umpire makes a mistake (with or without DRS)
AUGUST 01, 2013

India news

BCCI must recognise public sentiment

The BCCI's internal probe regarding the spot-fixing scandal has raised questions about the credibility of the board and the manner in which it conducts the IPL. In his column for the Mint, Ayaz Menon says that, even as legalities and rules fall in a grey area, taking cognizance of public sentiment is an important step for the BCCI, if it has to assure the public that it stands for the benefit of the game.

Recasting the dos and don'ts for administrators, franchise owners, their friends, players, et al in the IPL is an immediate imperative. Appointing an ombudsman and a couple of independent members on the governing council would have great value too. There are just too many loose ends to make for full credibility, as has become evident over the past six years--this could be detrimental to the brand value of the IPL. Taking cognizance of public sentiment would be an even bigger step in the right direction. I am not in favour of cricket coming under the control of the government, but being open to scrutiny under the right to information (RTI) law is not necessarily a bad thing.

JUNE 02, 2013

Indian cricket

Out with the old and in with the new

With the BCCI suffering a prolonged state of disarray over allegations of corruption that has already forced three of its senior members to quit, P Sainath, rural affairs editor of The Hindu, is not certain all will be rosy even if its president N Srinivasan resigns.

Scrap the BCCI and start afresh. Have a public audit of this body's activities over the past decade. The BCCI is characterised by its contempt for the public interest. By the impunity it could act with, confident of its power, corporate, political and media. Start over. Build and launch a body that is transparent and accountable. A body that runs the Indian team must be accountable to the public and the country in whose name it acts.

MAY 31, 2013

Indian cricket

Silence is not golden

Rajdeep Sardesai, "a hardened Mumbaikar" and editor-in-chief of IBN 18 broadcast network, could not bring himself to celebrate Mumbai Indians' triumph in the IPL final last week for one simple reason, as he explains in the Hindustan Times.

Apparently, stringent and lucrative player and commentary contracts are seen to have 'bought' the silence of our icons. Last year, all cricket players, past and present were given hefty cheques as retirement benefits. It was a nice gesture by the board, but one that appears to have been designed to ensure servility. Today, our star cricketers are either players, mentors, brand ambassadors, commentators or selectors: all subject to the BCCI's diktats, each compromised by the relentless desire to be on the gravy train. The few like Bishen Bedi and Kirti Azad who have spoken out are branded permanent angry rebels driven by personal agendas.

Politics and cricket have been an unholy marriage in India for years. An editorial in DNA elaborates on how the former has affected the latter in recent times.

The Hindu paints a telling picture of the state of Indian cricket's administrative body.