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Novelist, essayist and historian based in New Delhi

V for Vendetta

Try as it may, it will take the BCCI some effort to make people believe legends like Kapil Dev didn't exist

Mukul Kesavan

June 13, 2008

Comments: 54 | Text size: A | A


They may get rid of murals of him, but can they refute that he is, arguably, the greatest cricketer India has produced? © Getty Images
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An enormous, mural-like picture of Kapil Dev, side-on in his familiar pre-delivery leap, has been removed from the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali. When asked about its abrupt disappearance, the secretary of that association disingenuously explained that it hadn't been removed for good: the association was merely looking for a new place for it. Everyone else drew the obvious conclusion: the removal of the giant image was the latest in a series of steps taken by the BCCI to punish Kapil Dev for having joined the Zee-sponsored Indian Cricket League as chairman. More generally it was part of the BCCI's bid to outlaw the ICL and its personnel, and to cut them off from the structures of competitive cricket sanctioned by the ICC and operated by its affiliate boards.

Thus, a young player like Ambati Rayudu, 22, one of Hyderabad's brightest first-class batting prospects, faces a lifetime in the cricketing wilderness, barred from playing any form of recognised cricket because he signed up with the ICL team Hyderabad Heroes.

The BCCI and the ICC run a cricketing monopoly, which has been challenged twice - first by Kerry Packer and Channel 9, then by India's Kerry Packer wannabe, Subhash Chandra and his Zee network. The first time round, Packer's rebels created a parallel "circus" and staged "Test" matches that entertained Packer's television audiences but never counted for anything in Wisden or cricket's statistical record. Packer's pirates were banned from officially sanctioned cricket, but eventually when Packer and cricket's establishment settled their dispute his mercenaries went back to playing Test and first-class cricket. Pakistan's Packer stars - Imran Khan, Majid Khan, Mushtaq Mohammad, Zaheer Abbas - returned to help their Test team destroy Bishan Bedi's men during the 1978-79 tour of Pakistan that marked the resumption of cricket between the two countries. Kapil Dev debuted on that tour.

A monopoly of any kind will guard its turf jealously, so the BCCI's behaviour should come as no surprise. At some stage an Australian or New Zealand player contracted to the ICL will challenge his disbarment from his home country's cricket, and the courts will have to decide if this ICC-sanctioned ostracism has the force of law. If it can be shown that it constitutes an infringement of a person's right to livelihood, or a restraint on trade, men like Rayudu will find a way back into the mainstream of cricket. Or else it's possible that once the ICL experiment is snuffed out, the BCCI might magnanimously let these black sheep return to its fold.

However this is resolved, what should worry the game's followers is that at the very moment Indian cricket embraced entrepreneurial capitalism in the form of franchised Twenty20 cricket, its apex body dusted off a Stalinist bag of tricks to hunt down Right Revisionists and Left Adventurists and running dogs and, indeed, anyone who didn't fall into line. I have no great fondness for Kapil Dev in his post-retirement avatar; his tears on television some years ago, his posturing about the unfairness of the press, and his attempt to spin his ICL tenure as a form of cricketing social service, left me unmoved. But there's something truly creepy about the BCCI's attempt to unperson him and his ICL colleagues.

In Milan Kundera's great novel The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, a party boss borrows a subordinate's hat to keep his head warm during a group photograph. Soon after the photo is taken, the subordinate falls out of favour, and is eliminated from both life and public memory. He is neatly airbrushed out of the group photograph. But, and this is the point that the BCCI should attend to, erasing a person from history is hard; there's always something he leaves behind. In the case of the lowly party official, it was his hat.

 
 
The BCCI ought to revise the titles it gives its panjandrums to reflect this correspondence. Mr Pawar could stop being president of the BCCI, and become its Chairman. And Mr Modi, plainly diminished by his current description as Commissioner, IPL, could be known, as he so richly deserves to be, as its Commissar
 

Unfortunately for Indian cricket's politburo, Kapil Dev isn't an anonymous apparatchik (as most BCCI members are); he is, arguably, the greatest cricketer India has ever produced, and the "hat" he left behind is inconveniently conspicuous: it is the World Cup he won for India in 1983. So even if the BCCI succeeds in its attempt to remove Kapil Dev from contemporary cricket, scrubbing him from public memory is likely to be harder.

But you have to admire the BCCI for trying. Its leaders are ambitious men with formidable organisational skills, not to be put off by mere reputation. The BCCI did its best not to commemorate the silver jubilee of the World Cup victory because the drama of such a commemoration would have been hard to carry off without giving the winning team's skipper a speaking role. Finally, when Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev both made it clear that the celebrations would go on with or without the Indian cricket establishment, the board was shamed into agreeing to participate, since it didn't want to come across as a bunch of vindictive little men.

The most revealing aspect of the BCCI's vendetta against the ICL's recruits was its decision to cut off the pensions awarded to ex-cricketers for their services to first-class and international cricket. Kapil Dev can probably afford to do without an annuity, but that isn't the point. If these pensions were granted in recognition of past service, to cut them off on account of contemporary quarrels is a monstrous thing to do. The revocation of the pension is both material punishment and metaphorical erasure: it's like saying, "We, the board, have decided that your career, your service to cricket, your achievements, count for nothing in themselves unless they're recognised by Us, because it is Our recognition that legitimises your past and your present, that makes it visible." Thus pensions aren't benefits that cricketers have earned, they are stipends granted by the BCCI, Indian cricket's chief patron, which can be revoked on a whim.

On an online discussion group called Cricket Forum, one comment took the BCCI's campaign to its logical conclusion: "BCCI should pass a resolution that retro-actively strips Kapil Dev of the captainship of [sic] Indian team - including the 1983 WC winning team. That BCCI can then say - Kapil Dev was never captain of India. That should make [the] BCCI feel very good."

In practising this seemingly paradoxical combination of Stalinist politics and free-market capitalism, the BCCI is doing no more than following the example of a neighbouring organisation, the CPC, or the Communist Party of China. The BCCI ought to revise the titles it gives its panjandrums to reflect this correspondence. Mr Pawar could stop being president of the BCCI, and become its Chairman. And Mr Modi, plainly diminished by his current description as Commissioner, IPL, could be known, as he so richly deserves to be, as its Commissar.

Mukul Kesavan is a novelist, essayist and historian based in New Delhi. This article was first published in the Kolkata Telegraph

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Posted by magdoc76 on (June 19, 2008, 23:08 GMT)

it is one of the ugliest things i have ever seen in cricketing world.yet we say cricket is a gentlemen's game. may be not for BCCI and its associates.i dont know what to say except feeling for a icon like kapil who revolutionised indian cricket - sridhar perumal.

Posted by mudman on (June 18, 2008, 15:31 GMT)

I was 18 when Kapil and his boys won the WC. A feat that has yet to be matched by the superstars of today. So, no matter what the BCCI or the PCA or the ICC does to create revisionist history, my generation will never forget - because we saw it with our own eyes and heard it with our own ears over All India Radio :-] The commentary of that 175n.o. still rings in my ears and sends chills down my spine whenever I recall it or read about it.

No - no matter what the BCCI does, they can't take that away. Thank you Kapil, for inspiring a generation - yes, it was with Cricket, but we all need our heroes don't we?

Posted by akashchandran on (June 16, 2008, 14:31 GMT)

Hope the BCCI, now that the IPL has become a big success, shall be magnanimous and offer to allow those who played in the ICL to play in Ranji this year.

Posted by Sandman2007 on (June 16, 2008, 10:48 GMT)

The point isn't whether Kapil is a good administrator or weather IPL/ICL is the better league...the fact of the matter is that BCCI is taking calls that are not necessarily for the good of the game of cricket but are ad hoc changes to suit individual whims and fancies.Kapil Dev will always remain as the player to emulate for years to come & BCCI is fooling itself by trying to remove him from the picture.It is better if ICC steps in & comes up with a plan to formalize a T20 calendar or we are done for.

Posted by W.Akram on (June 15, 2008, 7:35 GMT)

Great article. But, more than that, I would like to say that, though I am not really a fan of Twenty20, the IPL was a gross copy of the ICL and they should give credit to the ICL and not ban those players. The BCCI is copying it and taking all the credit. Don't ban those players and don't try to take away Kapil Dev. One more thing. Why does Modi get to choose what happens in England's county leagues?

Posted by GlobalCricketLover on (June 15, 2008, 4:17 GMT)

I too was really frustrated when I came to know about the cheap act like this from BCCI. I just can't wait for the English courts to slap Modi(with regard to the barring of counties with ICL players in). As some player recently said, Modi and BCCI must remember that there is law and order in that country and that this kind of stupidity doesn't work! We have seen the players winning in the English courts (agaist the ban on ICL players) - but what surprises me is "why is no Indian ICL player challening it in Indian courts"?!!! we should be killing this evil at the root.

Posted by shadedwhite on (June 15, 2008, 3:59 GMT)

I think the problem is not ICL or IPL or any other league. ICL failed to give the commission to the BCCI. If they had like IPL did, then ICL would also be welcomed. What ICL did wrong was to start on their own, like their is saying in Urdu, loosely translated as a separate mosque of one and a half brick. Had they taken it to the BCCI and told them that, "Sire! we will give u 20% (or whatever is it u r happy with)", the BCCI would have christened them too. You know I am bitter...

Posted by Abhishek_T on (June 14, 2008, 20:35 GMT)

I never blamed Kapil Dev the player, but as an administrator he is a hypocrite. As for IPL players getting kicked around, go check your facts first, even those who were released by Knight Riders, they got the money stipulated in their contracts. The game of cricket is dying, and it is not because of BCCI it is because of ICC. IPL could be the only hope cricket might have to survive in the next century, Cricinfo is undoubtedly miffed at not getting the rights to the images and other media from the tournament. I am a cricket fan but I am realist, five day or even one day cricket does not fit the schedule of most. If you guys don't consider T20 proper cricket stop watching it, the players have no problem playing and getting money. If T20 is that big an evil, I hope that those who pan it will buy the tickets to Ranji games and add to the revenues. How many of you actually watch every ball bowled in a test match? In a couple of years IPL will rule the game then the tunes will be changed.

Posted by scorpprince on (June 14, 2008, 19:00 GMT)

I just wanna know everyone here tht "HAS ICC GONE SPINELESS" ????? What a shame.. ICC is dominated by few people from BCCI ... Whats the future of proffesional players.. Are they slave of BCCI or the free people who have the right to decide where they have to go .. Who are these people who doesnt even know the "C" of Cricket , who cant even hold the bat properly, to sit on the top of the governing body of the cricket ... Its called DICTATORSHIP.

Posted by ManojMS on (June 14, 2008, 7:35 GMT)

Remove politicians from cricket and see where people like lalit modi will fly. THey will forget the mantra of banning people. Kapil will always be remembered as a great indian cricketer and I read some on from Boston blaming kapil - let me give u a figure even the extras in ICL earned good money to secure their future but extras in IPL were kicked arround like football and this benchers were maximum indians....

Posted by Rajendranil. on (June 14, 2008, 6:33 GMT)

BCCI actualy change the way the alphapets are being taught. some of them are A for arrogance(see modi's warning to county teams), M for Money (don't need any examples) as you rightly pointed out V for Vendetta. Running a countries cricket affair like a medieval period feudal farm. god save cricket in this country.

Posted by noflylist on (June 14, 2008, 3:18 GMT)

Very good article. The cricket forum mensioned in the article is cricforum and not the cricket forum!

Posted by Abhishek_T on (June 14, 2008, 3:05 GMT)

I may be in minority, but I think that Kapil Dev is a hypocrite, and I have some facts to back my argument (1) He keeps on criticizing IPL for giving opportunity to the overseas stars at the expense of the young Indian players. Great point, but if I am not mistaken all of the ICL teams have 6 or more overseas players in the starting line ups. (2) He bashes BCCI for killing the first class game in the country, but he conveniently forgets that ICL is a T20 competition too. (3) He also criticizes BCCI for going after money, I guess ICL is an altruistic venture.

You cannot fault BCCI, as when you switch companies your present employer no longer has any more responsibility toward you. One more thing I am also getting tired of constant criticism of IPL, quite frankly I don't have enough time to waste 5 days watching NZ beating Bangladesh in an empty stadium. T20 fits my schedule and that does not make me any less of cricket fan than so called purists. If you don't like T20, don't watch it.

Posted by The_Wog on (June 14, 2008, 1:14 GMT)

Actually I think the pension being revoked is the only thing that CAN be justified - I assume Kapil signed some kind of contract that gave the BCCI the power to terminate it if he did something to bring the game into disrepute or harm the interests of the BCCI. Harsh, but they have the right. (Carry that logic to the extreme - is anyone arguing that a pension couldn't have been terminated had he been found guilty of match fixing? What about Cronje? Or Azharuddin?)

The rest of it is a joke. You can't stop Bond playing county cricket, or have a "world club championship" where counties can't play if they have ICL contracted players.

But I think Mukul misses the point, quoting an (ironic) call to retrospectively strip him of his captaincy from 1983. There's a bigger, more embarrassing problem - the Test wicket-taking record. The only way to undo it is to petition the ACU&S and ICC (whoever makes these decisions) to retrospectively strip his matches of Test status.

Posted by arculush on (June 14, 2008, 1:12 GMT)

I very much agree with this article. Everyone has the right to earn an honest living, and I am sickened that the BCCI would take away pensions that were given to former employees just for doing so. Lalit Modi seems to be an invidious little man who was most probably bullied at school.

I watched some of the first IPL and I won't be making the same mistake. I just can't take another "DLF maximum" or "Citi moment of success" - and please no more of Modi's gurning self-satisfied face. You've turned cricket into a sport for chavs.

Posted by shirazu on (June 13, 2008, 23:54 GMT)

Nothing will happen until the other boards take a stand against this. Even with all the money that the IPL can bring to the BCCI, and all the money that India brings to the boards of the other cricketing nations, without international cricket interest in the game would surely wane, even in India. Unfortunately it seems that two or three of the boards are in debt to India and the rest show no signs of taking a stand either. The only other possibility would be for the top current stars in cricket to form a union of sorts and move to the ICL or similar all at once, but it seems unlikely that it would be financially reasonable for them to do so, at least until an Indian Allen Stanford comes along. The Board of Cricket Control in India always seemed like the most ridiculous name to me. Rather than promoting the development of the game, the name seems like the BCCI is something whose purpose is to keep the game down, to crush it like a rebellion. It seems that is exactly what they are doing.

Posted by ElninoGB on (June 13, 2008, 22:17 GMT)

The BCCI's behavious beggars belief. Their behaviour in the past few years has been has been ridiculous. Lalit Modi is a joke. He probably thinks he is God's greatest gift to mankind - let alone cricket. I am sorry for the rant - but here are a few things that have really annoyed me about the BCCI in recent years (and I am an Indian fan): 1) In the felicitation ceremony for the T20 world cup win in Mumbai; all the players were shunted to the background and all the BCCI bureaucrats in the front seats, suggesting that they were somehow responsible for the win. 2) Lalit Modi banning ICL players playing for India, or whatever country for that matter. How does that work? Surely the Indian team must field the best XI cricket players that India as to offer; not the best XI payers that play in BCCI tournaments?! How dare they think they are the sole adjudicators of cricket in India. I can't imagine the feelings of the NZ fans on this issue (with Bond et al). Oh well, ran out of word count.

Posted by Raman01 on (June 13, 2008, 20:59 GMT)

Modi is fit to be leader of the Communist party of china, rather than being in India. Political thugs and monopoly-maniacs are thus running the BCCI and ruining cricket. Stanford showed that Modi has only loose changes to offer. If Stanford can act more diligently, then Modi will be buried forever. KD will be remembered for his great acts in the cricket field and Modi will be remembered (if at all) as a psycho.

Posted by Cellinis on (June 13, 2008, 18:32 GMT)

A great article Mukul. As an old (and given the current climate, useless) saying goes - the pen is mighter than the sword. It is rather refreshing to read bits and pieces challenging the monopoly practices of Pawar's BCCI. Unfortunately, the lack of a coherent and deliberate effort by the media to put an end to this idiocy leaves a rather sour taste in the mouth. I dare say that the passion of journalism is quite a thing of the past - and as someone who is in the midst of writing his first book - that greatly saddens me.

Posted by Rajesh. on (June 13, 2008, 17:50 GMT)

I agree with Mukul............. Iconic figures like Kapil Dev are hard if not impossible to remove from public memory. People like a Kapil Dev or a Sunil Gavaskar may be wrong sometimes but they have done much much more to Indian cricket than what most of the unprofessional and some of the money-minded administrators have done.

Posted by Q72941 on (June 13, 2008, 15:57 GMT)

One thing is so incomprehensible, how the biggest Democracy of the world let a single guy have the dictatorship!!!

How people in India have let him treat a National Hero as a Felon?

People should show him that it is them who should make the case of who they want or do not want to see.

Posted by Ganes.V on (June 13, 2008, 15:30 GMT)

Indeed an interesting article.It zeroes down to what ultimately BCCI is trying to do! If Kapil Dev had not come up with this idea of ICL, probably IPL would not have happened- atleast not now.Now I dont know if readers were following ICL matches, and for those who were following it would know that there were many interesting matches in ICl as well. There were one sided games and evenly contested matches.Just by removing a picture from Mohali Stadium definitely does not help wipe out the deeds done by Kapil Dev to Indian cricket.It was Kapil and his team whch won India the only world cup (50 overs) so far.There were many matches which he one for us single handedly either with his bowling or with his batting.Although no video coverage was available, there are many who still consider his 175 not out against Zimbabwe in 1983 World cup as one of the finest innings in one day cricket even today.He is and would remain a real legend which CANNOT just be wiped out from peoples mind. Ganes

Posted by hypnoticmonkey on (June 13, 2008, 15:11 GMT)

Brilliant article, sir. The extent of influence India have over world cricket is worrying. Lalit Modi says that any team which fields an ICL player will be banned from the Champions League. Lalit Modi says that the ICL will have first rights over players contracted to more than one team. Who on Earth is Lalit Modi? He is the commissioner of the IPL, not the supreme governer of world cricket. There's a thing we call co-operation, the BCCI should perhaps look it up. They have no right to say that someone should not ply their trade with someone other themselves. It would be like saying that someone who plays for Lashings shouldn't be allowed to play because Lashings are an independent team who do not play authorised matches and they get paid for doing so.

Posted by destined on (June 13, 2008, 15:09 GMT)

I am an Indian. If Ambati Rayudu is a better batsman than say, Rohit Sharma, Uthappa, Raina or Kaif, why can't he play for Indian cricket team ? If he is not allowed to play for India, despite being perfectly qualified, that is an injustice to all the Indian team fans.

BCCI sucks. This ban on poor ICL players is pathetic. What was the fault of these naive players who were tired of lack of recognition playing Ranaji cricket?

Posted by LalluMowdi on (June 13, 2008, 15:07 GMT)

The name of the popular cricket forum that Mr Mukul Keshavan quotes from is called cricforum. Besides , is there no legal recourse to players like Rayadu and so many others who have been black listed by BCCI.

Posted by going_south on (June 13, 2008, 15:02 GMT)

Its a good thought provoking article. 2 thumbs up. !!! I would like to correct that the online forum name is cricforum.com not 'cricket forum'.

Posted by squarecut.atul on (June 13, 2008, 14:37 GMT)

A wonderful article that articulates the feelings of millions of fans wonderfully well.

One small correction. The online discussion forum mentioned in the article is cricforum and not cricket forum.

Posted by vatsap on (June 13, 2008, 14:32 GMT)

And yes... like the couple of folks who have commented, Bond ... Bondy one of the most uncomplicated and genuine fast bowlers has to languish with a silly ban because of Modi and his goons in BCCI. It is sad.

Posted by vatsap on (June 13, 2008, 14:28 GMT)

Good piece Mukul. I guess the simple fact is power/money corrupts. What the hell are Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri snuggling up with the BCCI for. Don't they care about the young cricketers. Call it bloody hypocrisy. Unfortunately at the end of this IPL/20-20 money fest the business men are going to be gone, BCCI will be in a bigger mess and our promising cricketers will be no where. Vatsa

Posted by Calavai on (June 13, 2008, 14:26 GMT)

Yes BBCI is a monopoly and will do whatever it takes to keep it that way. So goes for ICC and the many cricketing bodies. This is where acts like Antitrust and MRTP come in effect. The Government of India (& other countries) should step in and make cricketing boards more competitive by breaking these into many competing bodies instead of colluding entities. Further, BCCI's chosen eleven should be banned from calling itself the 'India' team. It is not and should be tagged as 'BCCI India 11'. But who will bell this cat?

Posted by Chirublue on (June 13, 2008, 14:06 GMT)

Ok, so are you trying to feel sorry for the Chairman of the ICL and it's recruits? You guys (cricinfo) went to extent of taking out the link to 'Indian Cricket League' from your web site's main page, even while the ICL World 20's were going on, let alone the non-featuring of ICL 'cric-info' on your main page. And all this was done as soon as IPL started! One had to go in and look at 'Current tours' if they needed to look ICL match scores! Forget about that, tell me this Mukul... was the ICL covered with the same fervor as the IPL was (in terms of commentary, write-ups, etc.)? Please, this is hypocrisy at it's best on the part of cricinfo!

Posted by insightfulcricketer on (June 13, 2008, 14:04 GMT)

It is a travesty that guys like Lalit and Niranjan play their oneupmanship with past players . It was nauseating to see Niranjan skipping Binny's outstretched hands and first shaking Gavaskar's hand and then him. Maybe I am over-reacting but that was shocking for any true cricket lover. Come grow up Niranjan and Lalit. I think a time has come when 2 maximum term limits in BCCI should be the principle and then we can get rid of these parasites from Indian cricket .What will then remain constant in cricket is the player the true bedrock of Indian cricket.

Posted by Dunga on (June 13, 2008, 13:47 GMT)

Very good story. I didn't see anything wrong with the ICL. When you look at it, if the BCCI hadn't gone and banned it, it would have gone on to be as popular as the IPL is now. I saw the final, of ICL India vs ICL World, and it was perfectly good cricket. The problem is that the BCCI is completely up themselves, and as much as I love Indian cricket, they deserve a good kick up the pants.

Posted by ogu99 on (June 13, 2008, 13:34 GMT)

I completely disagree with Saibaskar. First of all successful ICL would not have meant that cricket would have been confined to one sports channel, and secondly it was Subash Chandra's idea and not a thug politician turned BCCI supremo Sharad Pawar and his mate in crime Lalit Modi. Who is Lalit Modi by the way? Can he tell fine leg position from square leg position on the cricket field? So when you have complete idiots like this present the 20-20 IPL like their brain child and dream, then you know something is wrong! Imran Khan, the ex Pakistan captain had thought of the 20-20 format for international purposes way back in the late 80's, and if I am not mistaken then this format has been in existence even longer but definitely not at the international level as we all very well know. Coming back to Saibaskar's asserton that cricket would have been confined to one sports channel; well is it so easy to shut out other channels like Star Sports, ESPN etc?

Posted by jamrith on (June 13, 2008, 13:14 GMT)

On the 25th anniversary of India's greatest ever triumph, it is terribly distressing that Kapil Dev and the other ICL players should be treated like pariahs. Poor Kapil, he is up against the deadly duo of Lalit Modi and I.S.Bindra with Sharad Pawar as the Godfather and the sycophantic IPL commentators, led by Kapil's ex-teammates, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri. I hope Allen Stanford bankrolls some more 20-20 tournaments and steals the thunder from the IPL.

Posted by ConSean on (June 13, 2008, 13:05 GMT)

Good article Mukul. I believe it takes about 3-5 generations for the BCCI to make people believe that Kapil ever existed. Kapil was one of the first icons of Indian cricket and many of us took to cricket being inspired by him. If anything, BCCI & our generation today should be thankful for people Kapil's Devils and the bunch that followed

Posted by Rashmikant on (June 13, 2008, 12:38 GMT)

India is a land of influence in any walk of life and ofcourse money power. If you have money and power you can get away with anything. People like Lalit Mody, Sharad Power are no different to Jagmohan Dalmiya. To keep their power and influence they do anything wether legal or illegal, morally right or wrong. Only thing matters to them is power and money and limelight. They need to realise rising sun also goes down at the evening and when they will fall due to their petty mindedness the same people will dump and boo them as they are worshiping them. Learn from history of our country.

Posted by Sekhar_S on (June 13, 2008, 12:36 GMT)

The way cricket boards are submitting to the BCCI,as far as ICL is concerned,shows what money can do.NZ cricket board had initially granted permission to Shane Bond to play in the ICL provided it did not interfere with the NZ international cricket calendar.But later it backed off stating Bond cannot play for NZ anymore.Money does corrupt.

Posted by PHRAM on (June 13, 2008, 10:26 GMT)

Its a great article by Mukul and I entirely agree with his comments.

Its one thing to fight ICL with your own IPL ,a fair game -but its entirely a different aspect when you bring in the element of blackmail & strong arm tactics to muscle in junior and aspiring cricketers.

Its a pity BCCI is now ruled more by political thugs than by people who care for cricket .

Posted by Theena on (June 13, 2008, 9:33 GMT)

Welcome back, Mr Kesavan. It's been too long.

Is anyone really surprised by the BCCI's actions? I know I am not. It's run by petty number crunchers and politicos whose myopic perspective of the world at large does not extend beyond brinkmanship and making money. For all the positives that IPL yielded - and even I, a naysayer at the beginning, will admit there were many positives - it's dawning on me that success has inflated Modi's already zeppelin-sized ego.

If they are serious about the champions' league yet go to the extent of excluding ICL players then I do hope that a group of players take the BCCI to court, and sue for restriction of trade. Nothing less would suffice.

Posted by SatyajitM on (June 13, 2008, 9:14 GMT)

BCCI has to realize that it cannot wish away 83 victory or it's captain. Lalit modi can not become 83 captain however hard he tries. While BCCI will keep ICL outlawed as long as it can (until somebody wins a case against it) but it's sickening to see players not getting their pension for services provided in the past. This is a open and shut case, pension is given based on past work so how can somebody stop it based on present differences. Players will win hands down on this issue if anybody goes to the court.

Posted by futurecaptainofindia on (June 13, 2008, 9:13 GMT)

The BCCI stands at cross-roads between its incentives as a business & responsibilities as the guardian of Indian Cricket, which is more of an institution than a profit motivated occupation. Unfortunately, it appears to have given precedence to the former.

Posted by zingzangspillip on (June 13, 2008, 9:04 GMT)

This is the reason that people are concerned about the BCCI's growing clout in cricket. It's not that we are worried about our teams losing. It's good to see competition. But if the BCCI continue the way they're going, they will inevitably become the de facto ICC. Once that happens, there is nothing to stop them taking down Test cricket and making cricket Twenty20-only. I don't think I'm being paranoid. The board will have so much money that it can afford to piss off the traditionalists.

Posted by tinylittlefascist on (June 13, 2008, 9:03 GMT)

I'm pleased to say that Mukul pretty much echoes the annoyance I feel at the BCCI, the ICC, the IPL and the ICC. It's a disgrace that they can even contemplate revoking Kapil Dev's salary. And frankly, they should not be allowed to, because a cricket board changes hands on a regular basis, and if structures like that can be eliminated at a whim, all you have left is frankly anarchy.

I enjoyed the IPL, but seriously, several things need to happen to ensure that it stays enjoyable and manageable. Among those is the maintenance of a salary cap, the maintenance of the foreign player restriction, and most importantly, it should be held only once annually and at a suitable window in the international schedule. Also, stop making it just a commercial gimmick. Keep the DLF Maximums etc to the mid-innings and post-match analysis.

Posted by Gareth_Griffis on (June 13, 2008, 8:00 GMT)

The best New Zealand player of recent times is banned from playing for his country because of this debacle! Shane Bond, who is the most destructive bowling force we have had, since Richard Hadlee, joined the ICL before it was a problem. He even asked NZ cricket if he could do it. Now that it has become such a big problem, NZ cricket was bullied into banning him from playing for NZ. I just hope that some players start going to court about this. The behavior of the BCCI and the ICC in current times is worse than a joke. In political terms, it is a dictatorship that is nonviolently putting down anyone that acts against their wishes. The ICC needs to be dissolved, Zimbabwe need to be removed from international cricket, a newly reformed ICC needs to give the BCCI a clip around the ears and tell them to get their act together. Unfortunately when power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, we get the situation we are in now.

Posted by Saibaskar on (June 13, 2008, 7:51 GMT)

May be BCCI is vindictive but i still find it difficult to like ICL. Successful ICL would have meant Indian cricket and to a great extent world cricket would have been confined to one sports channel and one businessman. Thanks to Lalit Modi that BCCI responded by creating a far more bigger success called IPL and thereby dwarfing ICL. IPL's success has shown that Indian cricket is far too bigger to be owned by a single business house. It was Subash Chandra's insanity to raise a rebel league and steal the idea which first was floated by Modi (Yes, this thing initially was Modi's idea). But, the greatest thing which IPL would achieve is to make BCCI more accountable. Mind you Sharad Pawar could be big but Ambani + Mallya + Sharukh is bigger and will want there investment to succeed. ICL hurt BCCI when it was at its low and BCCI is responding in kind. As far as players and support staff associated with ICL are concerned they will be back in mainstream the very next day ICL is wound up

Posted by whisperingDeathMach2 on (June 13, 2008, 7:46 GMT)

what a great shame that BCCI are getting away with ruling with an iron fist. Surely they cannot get away with such atrocities. It is a matter of time until some brave soul takes them to court and brings the monstrosity which is Lalit Modi and BCCI hurtling back down to earth.

They cannot carry on like this - it is against the law and shall be proven so in a court of law

Posted by pim863 on (June 13, 2008, 7:19 GMT)

Thanks Mukul, for an article after so long, and for finally a serious piece on BCCI's cricketing monopoly via banning everyone associated to ICL. For some reason Cricinfo has been in general very silent about this issue - the coverage of ICL was minimal at best, and there was almost no mention of BCCI's ban on ICL in the overwhelming amount of discussions regarding IPL. I wonder why one should wait for a player from Australia or New Zealand to take this issue to court - can't one do it in India? What are the ICL guys doing?

Posted by rnarayan on (June 13, 2008, 7:17 GMT)

I agree with you. The BCCI has certainly done a great thing for Indian Cricket, but power has gone to it's head. "Moses" Modi and his dictate that ICL cricketers cannot play T-20 for their English counties is the latest example of this Megalomania. Surely the laws against restraint of trade and Restrictive Trade Practices have been breached and this surely is one for the courts, Suo Moto cognizance if necessary? Can the BCCI retrospectively withhold pensioned payments earned? If the BCCI purports to represent India, how can they say Indian ICL players don't count and effectively deprive them of rights as citizens to represent this country?

Posted by Makkiheb on (June 13, 2008, 6:57 GMT)

These BCCI jokers can do any cheap thing. After many more years, cricket fans & players are going to remember Kapil Dev more than a Lalit Modi or a Niranjan Shah. Can BCCI remove Kapil's 175 or the stunning catch that he took to dismiss Viv Richards in the 1975 WC final from our memories?? Tough luck guys!! Hail Kapil's Devils and let BCCI be damned!

Posted by Crushers on (June 13, 2008, 6:50 GMT)

A very good article. With regards to point mentioned to BCCI stripping Kapil's captaincy, they can very well do the fact of stripping Kapil as an Indian Player thus stripping him of all his achievements and records. Will they have the courage to go on board, after doing the above, saying that the World Cup victory in 1983 has been made null and void as Kapil has been deprived of all his association with India Cricket for his lifetime? Come on BCCI and Lalit Modi, without ICL, IPL would have never entered your head.

Posted by madsXI on (June 13, 2008, 5:47 GMT)

Cant anyone bring BCCI to court under MRTP Act. It will be a crime if we see some Dhoni-Pawar chamcha playing in Indian Cap and missing out on Rayudu and his mates. I am not commenting anything on IPL or ICL both are two faces of same coin. They make money out of our love for cricket. But let us not permit them the right to sell our pride in the team which brought glory for the country.

PLEASE SAVE INDIAN CRICKET..

Posted by Q72941 on (June 13, 2008, 5:25 GMT)

This is really pathetic to see how one man's vision can be portrayed as a governing body's pitiful and shameless decision.

If Lalit Modi and the company (BCCI) had any bit of dignity, than they should have thought for a moment, the multi-billion dollar industry that they are reaping off is due to the players like Kapil and all who have made India a force to reckon with in Cricket world. Before him and his man brought the world cup to India they were thought to be a mere mediocre team that had some player with potential. The way IPL has been reaping the crops of Indian teams effort to win T20 World Cup; similarly BCCI has been doing the same at the expense of the efforts of the very people who have given them the power and chance.

There is nothing democratic about BCCI anymore; in all fairness BCCI should change their name to Lalit Modi & his Posies

Posted by ramkicool on (June 13, 2008, 5:16 GMT)

Does anybody in the BCCI know what it is to play for your country, to give your flesh blood and soul on the field to see your country win, the pain and the hard work they go through to get selected only to be banned by people whose only motto is to make money. Sadly with all that money coming in there seems to be no improvement in the facilities in the stadiums or in the quality of domestic matches. As the article has rightly pointed out they do act like Comrades and Commissars.

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Mukul KesavanClose
Mukul Kesavan teaches social history for a living and writes fiction when he can - he is the author of a novel, Looking Through Glass. He's keen on the game but in a non-playing way. With a top score of 14 in neighbourhood cricket and a lively distaste for fast bowling, his credentials for writing about the game are founded on a spectatorial axiom: distance brings perspective. Kesavan's book of cricket - Men in Whitewas published in 2007.

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