Ramachandra Guha
Cricket writer and historian

The strange silence of Gavaskar and Shastri

Why have these two stalwarts of Indian cricket never spoken out about the damage the IPL has done to the country's Test team?

Ramachandra Guha

August 14, 2011

Comments: 131 | Text size: A | A

Former India captains Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar arrive at the BCCI headquarters for a meeting to find reasons for India's World Cup debacle
Gavaskar and Shastri: not so outspoken when it comes to matters regarding the Indian board Sajjad Hussain / © AFP
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With the loss of three successive Test matches to England, in England, Indian cricket fans are consumed by despair. However, my own despair had set in even before the first Test began, when, in an election held to select a new president of the Mumbai Cricket Association, Dilip Vengsarkar was defeated by a politician named Vilasrao Deshmukh.

My dejection was deepened by the fact that Vengsarkar was no ordinary cricketer. In his playing days he was a batsman of high class, with an outstanding record against West Indies, and against England (he remains the only overseas batsman to have scored three Test hundreds at Lord's). He was also a fine one-day player, and a member of the teams who won the World Cup in 1983 and the World Championship of Cricket two years later.

After his retirement Vengsarkar has focused on training young cricketers. Among his early wards was a certain Yuvraj Singh, Man of the Tournament in the last World Cup. Unlike some other cricketers Vengsarkar does more than lend his name to a cricket academy; he supervises the players' progress, pays (if required) their school and medical fees out of his own pocket, and travels with them across India. And he refuses to take any payment himself. The veteran Mumbai cricket writer Makarand Waingankar says that in his own (several decades-long) experience he has not seen a former Test cricketer so devoted to nurturing young talent.

On the other side, Deshmukh is a rather ordinary politician. Unlike some others (for example Arun Jaitley or the late Madhavrao Scindia) he does not have a previous interest in the game of cricket. His record in his chosen field, public service, has been undistinguished, and on occasion (as in the aftermath of 26/11) disastrous. Deshmukh's desire to become president of the MCA did not stem from a love of the game or a commitment to clean administration. His motivation appears to have been the restoration of his social status, which had been damaged during the Mumbai terror attacks and the subsequent loss of his chief ministership.

When, some months ago, I first heard of this contest, I wondered if the two most famous former cricketers from the city, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, would support their old team-mate. They had played alongside Vengsarkar for many years, for both Mumbai and India. But then, I thought, perhaps it was not necessary for them to make a statement to this effect. That the sportsmen of Mumbai, the sporting clubs of Mumbai -- of Mumbai, which in many ways is the capital city of Indian cricket - would elect Deshmukh over Vengsarkar seemed scarcely believable. But they did, out of what motives and intentions one could only speculate. When I first heard of the result, I was appalled. Surely many MCA members would have voted the other way if Gavaskar and Shastri had publicly endorsed Vengsarkar?

One believes that, in general, former cricketers would run cricket associations more ably than serving politicians. Given Vengsarkar's commitment to young cricketers, and Deshmukh's own spectacular indifference to the public good, this general principle should have been emphatically validated here. Yet two celebrated cricketers from Mumbai, two cricketers produced by Mumbai, two cricketers who were close contemporaries and colleagues of the cricketer in the fray, chose not to help him. Why? What would it have cost Gavaskar and Shastri to ask the clubs of Mumbai to cast their votes in favour of the man who was far and away the better candidate?

Their silence during the elections of their parent association confirmed, for me, the pusillanimity of the two. The recent revelations that they are paid propagandists of the Board of Control for Cricket in India have confirmed, for many other fans, the lack of principle in Gavaskar and Shastri. They feel betrayed by the disclosure that commentators they trusted to give a fair and credible account of the game were under contract to speak in His Master's Voice alone.

 
 
One would expect Gavaskar and Shastri to make the connection between the board's obsession with the IPL and the poor performance of the Indian team in England. That they have stayed silent suggests that their commitment to cricket is not as dispassionate as it perhaps should be
 

My impression, based on press reports and conversations with friends, is that the fans felt more let down by Gavaskar than by Shastri. This is for two reasons. First, while Shastri was a decent allrounder, Gavaskar was one of the greats of the game. Second, while Shastri was never known for selflessness, Gavaskar had in the past fought bravely for the rights of his fellow cricketers. Gavaskar played an important role in organising a players' association that succeeded in raising match fees manifold and in securing pensions for retired cricketers. Gavaskar led a movement in his native Mumbai to have flats allotted to former Test players who lived in the city.

Gavaskar had, in the past, showed pluck in a political sense too. After Pakistan won the World Cup in 1992, he was invited to Karachi to speak. Bal Thackeray, the leader of the right-wing, regionalist Shiv Sena party, demanded that he not sup with the enemy, but Gavaskar defied him, saying that he was going as a cricketer and an Asian. Again, during the Mumbai riots of 1992-93, when Gavaskar saw, from a window of his apartment, a mob setting upon a Muslim, he rushed down to the street to stop them.

Gavaskar has answered the charge that he is a spokesman for the board by claiming that his newspaper columns have sometimes been critical of its policies. However, in hundreds of hours of hearing Shastri and Gavaskar speak on television, I cannot recall them ever being critical in any way of the BCCI. Crucially, in both print and on air I have never heard either commentator ever do anything but praise the Indian Premier League in lavish terms. Neither has commented on the shady financial underpinnings of the league, neither has dared point out that the ownership of the Chennai Super Kings by the board's secretary is legally and morally indefensible.

My view, and not mine alone, is that the existence of the IPL is the main reason India is no longer the No. 1 team in Test cricket. The case can be made on cricketing grounds, without any reference to the business methods of Lalit Modi or N Srinivasan. If India have performed poorly in the ongoing Test series against England, the excessive burdens placed on the players by the IPL are surely a key factor. That Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, and Zaheer Khan had to play that tournament immediately after the World Cup is why they had to miss the West Indies tour and did not recover their full fitness for the England tour. The under-performance of other major players, such as MS Dhoni, is likewise linked to the fact they have been playing too much cricket.

One would expect Gavaskar and Shastri, as active, influential, full-time commentators on the game, to make these connections between the board's obsession with the IPL and the poor performance of the Indian team in England. That they have stayed silent suggests that their commitment to cricket is not as dispassionate as it perhaps should be.

The cynic would say that these criticisms are beside the point, that Gavaskar and Shastri are merely doing a job. But in this fan, the sense of disappointment remains. Having watched Gavaskar and Shastri win and save Test matches for India, I ask: why must they be so blind to the ways in which the IPL is bad for Test cricket in India? Having watched them, time and again, help Mumbai defeat my own state, Karnataka, I wonder: why could they not support their former team-mate in the MCA elections against a cricket-illiterate politician?

Historian and cricket writer Ramachandra Guha is the author of A Corner of A Foreign Field and Wickets in the East among other books

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Posted by ashok16 on (August 17, 2011, 22:03 GMT)

I personally prefer the IPL to test matches. Why? the goal is very clear, win the championship, many local players and some interested international players make for good sporting drama, and the game gets over in 3-4hrs. If as Ram Guha says both cannot exist, I would rather get rid of test matches. After all, it is not just my personal opinion but the ad rates of IPL are 10 times more than test matches. And if there are no test matches, IPL will only go up in value. Just like Ram Guha will not write a book nobody wants to read nor will he accept the third lowest publisher's bid as royalty, it is time to say "bye bye" to test cricket.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2011, 8:53 GMT)

Wonderful article. We always knew that Gavaskar is a very biased commentator but it was heartbreaking to hear Shastri's commentry recently. He happened to be very neutral commentator in the past the sudden shift of gears really raised the eyebrows of many. Same applies for Harsha, how nice he was when he did the 1996 WC countdown. What a changeover. Thanks for revealing the insides.

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (August 17, 2011, 7:00 GMT)

I really don't understand the author's gripe and sour mood... Maybe Gavaskar just decided not to meedle in the elections bet V'kar and Deshmukh. And why have such great faith on V'kar when he was singularly responsible for putting an upbeat team under Dravid go into a shell after the previous English tour? Gavaskar and Shastri are paid to comment on a personal capacity as well as be BCCI spokesmen on the DRS issue - which seems to be largely perception driven anyway. Where's the problem especially if their views broadly coincide with BCCI concerns anyway? Shastri in fact is also an ICC spokesman - and he manages to wear all the 3 hats without any problem.

I think Guha should leave cricket alone...

Posted by   on (August 17, 2011, 6:24 GMT)

IPL is good for Indian Cricketers as simple as it is and helps economy too. I will always favor IPL, It gives good platform to youngster to perform well and come into media attention. It also gives them career to earn money. Before IPL Indian perfomance was poor as well, what was excuse then ? We got beaten by Bangladesh in 2007 in World Cup, where was IPL?...We won world cup why IPL didn't come into reason ?....Leave IPL alone, that format providing so many new jobs to India and specially well paying jobs. IPL is healthy for economy and future of being cricketer for young Indian. Always getting carried away with blaming stuff, Indian team got out perform by England team simple as it is. We are behaving foollingly, we have no balling attack and its their homegrounds, and we were not given sufficient practice and selection was poor. Players coming out of long breat and without fitness and enough practice trying to get back in game, and BCCI have no clue of conseuences.

Posted by Meety on (August 17, 2011, 5:40 GMT)

Good article, but I think the motives for the BCCI to pay Gavaskar & Shastri is the most concerning. Next step for BCCI (a political beast), is to place subliminal messages in the cricket broadcasts! Big Brother (not the TV show), has well & truely arrived in India!!!!

Posted by jay57870 on (August 16, 2011, 15:36 GMT)

Virtually all the players - a "generation of gifted and selfless cricketers, among them Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly and Anil Kumble, but perhaps Tendulkar the most" (ref: Guha's "Vintage Wizardry" tribute to Sachin) - have played in the IPL and benefited from it. IPL has been a boon. As many cricketers will tell you, past and present, it has given opportunities to aspiring youngsters (many poor) from all corners of the nation (many small towns) to play and make a living. This real world scenario is not much different from those chronicled in Guha's "A corner of a foreign field." Undeniably, T20 is very much a big part of cricket history in its impact. Market forces will dictate the future direction of cricket. Much as I love Test cricket - my favourite sport as a kid and ardent fan - we have to adjust to the ground realities: It must find its space and co-exist with the shorter formats. (As for Vengsarkar, Gavaskar, Shastri and MCA, Guha is free to present his own views. No comments.)

Posted by kool_Indian on (August 16, 2011, 15:33 GMT)

I totally agree with NumberXI, Anshu_ism & AlokSinghai. So should we say that Mr.guha is a paid agent of anti-bcci nexus/media like cricinfo to write the article just to damn the great like Mr.Gavaskar and a good cricketer/analyst like Mr.Shastri? Also, why is IPL not given any due credit like saying - it may have helped Indian team to face the stiff challenges in the WC 2011 and win the cup bcoz all the players are battle hardened? I think Mr.guha and all those criticizing IPL n Gavaskar/Shastri - should actually get their mind cleared and listen to what gavaskar n shastri comment. They were not happy with youngsters technique n partly blamed IPL for their technique during WI tour. Have some decency and perspective before blasting everythg about IPL/BCCI. There was no IPL before 2008 and rem'ber India was NOT no.1 in tests or wc winners. Also, if IPL is the reason for current loss - then it should have helped India winning all T20 wc's right? Just think guys b4 commenting.

Posted by jay57870 on (August 16, 2011, 15:19 GMT)

It is disappointing to see an eminent historian fall into the usual human trap: Reacting to a single event and using that snapshot to make a point. In this case, playing the blame game for India's Test defeat in England. Instead of pressing the "panic" button, Guha is better off pushing the "pause" button. Take a deep breath and let us reflect on the situation. England clearly beat India fairly and squarely. This time they were better. It happens in sports. One cannot win it all. (Ask Federer, Nadal, Djokovic. Or Tiger Woods. Or Manchester United. Or New York Yankees. On and on.) To blame the IPL as "the main reason India is no longer the No.1 team in Test cricket" is far-fetched. Look at the bigger picture and time horizon. IPL has been around for four popular seasons. And in those same four years, we have seen Team India rise to the top Test spot, that too in dramatic circumstances - recovering from the aftermath of a disastrous Chappell period. All credit goes to Team India. (TBC)

Posted by kasturi on (August 16, 2011, 13:39 GMT)

The article is nice one I agree with your comments and I feel disheartened and sad that the behavior of these people is similar to Paid news. In media, I think it is the credibility and character that is sacrosanct and these guys have ruined. I was astonished to find a statement in one of the leading magazine The Outlook "We also have two eyes, two hands and a stomach" which is very absurd given their stature both economically and socially. Man the guy is the poorest of all :)

Posted by   on (August 16, 2011, 10:51 GMT)

Spot on ram guha .. spot on

Posted by AlokSinghai on (August 16, 2011, 9:46 GMT)

Mr. Guha.. your article is surprising.. how come you just pick up on Mr. Gavaskar and Shastri and within that too single out Mr Gavaskar? Why no mention of Sachin's silence , his is by far the strongest voice (Rahul Dravid as current cricketer supported Kumble &Co)..... Why didnt you ask the same to Srinath,Prasad etc, when Mr.Gundappa Vishwanath was contesting against a certain Maharaja for KSCA elections? Are you picking up on Mr. Gavaskar and Mr. Shastri only because they are the pet hate topic of the month? With due respect to you as a Cricket Historian, how come you have forgotten about all that Mr. Gavaskar has done for fellow cricketers right from his playing days? ... Sad to see this kind of an article from you Mr. Guha

Posted by   on (August 16, 2011, 9:12 GMT)

Shastri and Gavaskar are very pathetic commentators, i wonder its our fate that we have to listen in to guys like these when we sit to watch a match.

Posted by   on (August 16, 2011, 9:07 GMT)

the talk about cricket and leave at that. what problem do you have? tomorrow you'd want sachin to talk against bcci.

Posted by Sakthiivel on (August 16, 2011, 8:55 GMT)

Srilankan players Played England Series Immediately after the IPL. But still they were not defeated like this. Its Indian Team batting failure.

Posted by   on (August 16, 2011, 4:58 GMT)

This article is spot on. The apparent silence of Gavaskar and Shastri baffles me too. Instead of fawning over landmarks of Tendulkar they should try to do some actual constructive work for Indian cricket. Even Tendulkar is to be blamed, why did he opt to play the full course of IPL and decide to opt out of the WI series? That is like ridiculing the value of test cricket and the WI team. I am disappointed that the vast majority of Indian cricket fans have a very objective, one-sided view of these Indian greats.

Posted by   on (August 16, 2011, 2:26 GMT)

thank god we lost now every one can see whts wrong who needs to be dropped and how people should be selected! more over england won fairly u cant even blame anything on luck truly out classed so im not sad if it was like sydney they it would have hurted more

Posted by   on (August 16, 2011, 0:37 GMT)

Bro, You cannot expect Indian Team to be No 1 in all the three formats of the game. they are playing good T20 cricket and one day cricket.... they are the world champs and that is because of excessive T20 cricket played by Indian Team..... I think Indian team will come back in form very soon... I think India need to strick good balance in their selection.... they need Bowlers urgently... I think they should get Waseem Akram or Mcgraw to go for Bowler Hunt in India and than polish them i am sure that with 1.5 bil population they will be able to find good fast baowlers....

Posted by VicRathore on (August 15, 2011, 20:11 GMT)

The Indian propensity to line up with authority is to blame. The politicians wield too much power in every sphere of life. People are scared to say 2+2=4 if some politician says it is 5.

Posted by Anshu_ism on (August 15, 2011, 19:48 GMT)

@NumberXI Spot on about Ravi Shastri. I stopped worrying about his (or most Indian commentators) English long ago and decided to listen to what they meant. They know so much about Indian cricket. You would think Harsha Bhogleis probably the best India commentator - and he has learnt a lot in 20 years of touring - until you were surprised at some off-the-cuff Shastri or Gavaskar observation. Does someone remember that important little spell Shastri had as temporary coach after the 2007 WC when things were so bad? He did his bit for the team back then, again with quiet diligence. He and Gavaskar are both men of character and gumption, Gavaskar with more talent, Shastri with more nous. You can't flay them just out of a whim.

Posted by Sakthiivel on (August 15, 2011, 19:45 GMT)

What a useless article by Ramachandra Guha. How will IPL create good cricket for Test. OMG Ramachandra Guha IPL is to develop young cricketing talents, Who cant come into test team they will be selected for ODI and T20. If IPL is not in the calendar for India then India would have another series with some countries still they cant be rested. If players cant play at this level of cricket then its useless. They have to give 100% they are not paid peanuts. Do you know how much they were given after winning the WC.If you cant play 100% in england pls resign, we have a big queue of cricketers before BCCI.

Posted by veeranx on (August 15, 2011, 17:21 GMT)

There is too much focus on the No1 Status. Nobody cared about this when India became no1 but now the English media is making a big deal about it and the Indian media is fawning it.

Indian fan cares a dam#. He wants the IPL. No matter who screams, you won't see an Indian fan complain about too much cricket or IPL.

India also has too much talent that they could have 4 teams within India who can go abroad and do well. If the administrators are smart, they can make this happen. But until the revenue is generated, they care a dam# either.

Posted by zsn on (August 15, 2011, 17:16 GMT)

I think the most accurate description of this article is "Belaboring the Obvious" - so, suddenly, Mr. Guha is surprised that Sunil Gavaskar is really not that into the ultimate welfare of the sport?!? Really? It has been obvious to anyone who has been following cricket since the '70's that Sunil Gavaskar has only been interested in Sunil Gavaskar and if that process helped along the advancement of Indian Cricket, so be it. It should have been obvious to anyone who witnessed his actions on and off the field (his 36 n.o. against England in 1975 and the way he treated Chetan Chauhan in 1980 for starters, and just about everything he's done since). Shastri on the other hand.......Having said all that, I do agree with the overall gist of this superb article.

Posted by Ahwarraich on (August 15, 2011, 15:19 GMT)

I am a cricket fan from Pakistan and had great respect for Gavaskar, whenever he spoke i listened with full attention because i knew i was listening to a legend and a great Indian, but after knowing that he is paid by BCCI to comment, I am disgusted, Now i think that I can listen to only Sourav to get and Indian prospective because I am sure that Indian prospective is not one preached by BCCI but its one which stems from the sould of Indian cricket. Less said about Shastri the better but I did not expect this from the great Gavaskar....

Posted by JoydeepGupta on (August 15, 2011, 15:12 GMT)

Please don't put Shastri in same bracket with great Gavaskar, Shastri was a very ordinary player and I don't remember him winning or saving a Test for India....

Posted by   on (August 15, 2011, 13:52 GMT)

Well written article and brings out certain valid points, some past cricketers have also said during IPL commentary, that this is a solid platform for young & budding cricketers to hone their skills amongst the best in the World....has that really happend....we see many of them no be able to perform consistently at the BIG stage, where is the famous large bench strength that BCCI says they have developed, the easy money available to young cricketers have made them lazy, inconsistent, and there seems to be a lack of pride....many of the overseas players playing in IPL, are intheir twi-light zone and come for the tamasha, and the money......IPL is expanding.....and this will only harm talented lads, who are only keen in the T 20 format, and get rich quick syndrome.....

Posted by deepak6353 on (August 15, 2011, 13:11 GMT)

I must agree the Mr Guha.

There is clear conflict of interest in way Gavaskar and Shastri speaks and writes. Never have I heard them say that Gautam and Virender played in IPL with their injuries and were not critical of cramped schedule of Indian cricket team. Never did they say that Virender is not test match ready, he comes out of injury after 3 months and straight plays in a test match !!!

Further, they were never critical of so many politicians in leading positions of cricket board in India and ICC (of which Ravi is a part) shouts it out louder that no politican intervention is allowed in cricket .....

One way or the other, you can never say a hen is bad when it is laying you golden eggs (INR 3 crores per annum) .....

Can someone please explain me how can you believe these guys when they talk and write !! I prefer Saurav Ganguly and Nasser Hussain any time over these guys ...

Posted by makeshift on (August 15, 2011, 12:43 GMT)

Well said Farce-Follower

They may have individual records but they never achieved anything significant for India in their playing days. I remember sometimes they were 7-8 players picked from Mumbai irrespective of their ability

Posted by Er-.S.R.shankar on (August 15, 2011, 12:38 GMT)

The normal balance & refinement that marks your essays is missing in your comments despite some valid points We lost the series due to collective batting failure Only a blind hater of IPL would attribute it as the sole cause for our below par performance in England-All English players have been playing T20/ODI40/3 day county cricket continuously since May-It is for the Indian players to choose it as suited to their physique Secondly why you have isolated Shastri & Gavaskar[never known for their selfless attitudes] for not airing their views? Have Vishwanath,Srinath & Kumble have spoken against IPL-How about other former cricketers? As commentators they are employed for analysing the game & not off the field issues. No doubt suni& Shastril are characters who always look for personal elevation It is pity that you have to advocate for Vengsarkar who is more of a politician than a cricketer these days as exemplified in Dravid's exit from ODI & captaincy I wish you be more objective

Posted by CHARLA on (August 15, 2011, 12:36 GMT)

YES:keeping quiet in the face of injustice is to be decried--specially when opinion makers like gavaskar,and sastri to an extent,are involved.there is one point which mr.guha has not mentioned and that is the obsession of gavaskar and sastri with tendulkar, to the extent of supporting him always,without criticising him when required.i am a great fan of srt, like many others,but i do see a number of things wrong with him.gavaskar and sastri being much better than many others in cricketing issues should also be seeing this but are turning a blind eye to his defects.this is not doing any good to indian cricket.as for their being mothpiece of bcci i have not read any serious challenge from them. what is one supposed to make of their silence?please help indian cricket by being forthright --m/s gavaskar&sastri

Posted by jaanson on (August 15, 2011, 12:33 GMT)

has it struck mr guha that both smg and shastri knowing vengsarkar very well may actually believe that he was not good enough to be the president of mca and therefore kept their peace. and if cricketers are to support cricketers why leave srt out of it. why didnt guha find his silence on all cricketing matters odd? fact is that nobody in the history of indian cricket has regularly spoken against the administartion than smg. if ipl has to be blamed then why not ask questions of those who play in it than these ex cricketers? shouldnt those who play for india know which is bigger, the india cap or the franchise cash? even srt opted out of the windies tour to be with his family. why coudlnt he have missed a few weeks of ipl to be with his family? vengsarkar lost like vijay merchant and duleepsinghji , gr viswanath lost previously. did mr guha write similar piece when karnatakas cricketers did not support grv? cricketers cant win against those who win elections for a living. dont blame smg.

Posted by EL_Prasho on (August 15, 2011, 12:29 GMT)

Thank you for an excellent, well writted and considered article. The IPL is a blight on the game. It's only virtue is to condemn the old colonial masters to second class status (from a financial stance, of course). I'm truly apalled at what the IPL has done to what should be the golden era of test cricket in India. Never before in our history have we been so blessed with such exceptional talents. Even the kids coming through are better than the stalwarts that preceeded them in precocious talent. And yet we will never see them blossom (other than hitting the odd DLF maximum here & there). It's sad that indian cricket has come so far, and just when it was there for the taking, sickening direction from an agenda-driven board is embaressing our team on the worlds biggest stage.

I would happily take a four-nil drubbing if it led to a shake down in board (and player) mentaliity.

Posted by TheLastLaugh on (August 15, 2011, 12:20 GMT)

IPL/CHAMPIONS LEAGUE is here to destroy the cricket...BCCI has become too money minded and have commercialized the sport too much..Was it really necessary to have the IPL just after a big tournament like a world cup..???.. As a result players have become jaded..and india will go down the path of WI and B'desh soon..BCCI will not care for this...as long as their coffins are getting filled with more money..they talk about reviewing the performance after this tour, I guess they dont have the time for that too, as the nonsense "champions league" is coming up on indian flat tracks..and they will be busy counting their rs/$.... IF THE BCCI IS REALLY INTERESTED IN THE GAME, LET THEM GIVE A BREAK TO ALL PLAYERS ONCE THEY ARE BACK FROM ENG TOUR..AND CANCEL THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE THIS YEAR..WILL THEY EVER DO IT???.. NO!!!!

Posted by   on (August 15, 2011, 12:13 GMT)

I thought Indians get shot in the head if they say anything against BCCI and thats why Gavaskar and Shastri shut their mouth not beacuse of money. What a Joke!

Posted by   on (August 15, 2011, 11:59 GMT)

Very poorly written and argued. Targeting full time politicians administering cricket boards for India's current debacle is as lame and mushy as it can get. Also blaming IPL for current disastrous show is a reductionist approach so typical. Introspecting reasons solely within the losing side can only reveal half the story. What about the English side? Were they not responsible for India's poor run? Just to illustrate my point, if India had been so tired after IPL, how come they won in WI? Let's not take the credit away from the English. They played far superior cricket. And as far as preparation is concerned, well tendulker missed WI and landed directly in England way ahead of others. What has been the result? Dhoni and Dravid, both of whom played IPL and in WI have displayed better batting than tendulkar, just to drive home the fact.

Posted by NumberXI on (August 15, 2011, 11:55 GMT)

@Anshu_ism: excellent points. It is funny that a man of conviction, like Gavaskar, who was literally willing to risk life and limb to save someone during riots should be held guilty by people merely because his viewpoint on the BCCI and the IPL does not echo theirs or Guha's viewpoint. If Guha has a view to offer it should be more substantial than that he is unhappy Gavaskar and Shastri won't say what he wishes they did. As for people who rail about Shastri's English, they need to look for his cricketing knowledge and if it is worth his presence as a commentator - for which no one has offered a viewpoint. If Shastri knew more than four English phrases he would probably be writing about cricket - like Guha - than playing it!!

Posted by NumberXI on (August 15, 2011, 11:41 GMT)

"Pusillanimity", "paid propagandists" - what wonderful verbiage you use to describe Gavaskar and Shastri. Rahul Dravid, Praveen Kumar are two players who have performed creditably, as have, more lately, Tendulkar and Dhoni, and Laxman to a lesser extent - all these players also played at the IPL. One gets the impression that Mr Guha is barking up a tree, because there is one to be barked up - never mind if it is the right one.

Posted by Farce-Follower on (August 15, 2011, 11:20 GMT)

Both - Shastri and Gavaskar - are cliched and lack any original insight. Gavaskar has a permanent chip on his shoulder and is a pain to read or listen to. Shastri knows just 4-5 phrases and keeps changing the tone of his screams. They are meant for the small town listener who wants to listen to Desi Angrezi.

Posted by   on (August 15, 2011, 10:55 GMT)

There other cricket jobs , more lucarative than this one ...you cant keep a good man down

Posted by Anshu_ism on (August 15, 2011, 10:41 GMT)

Ramachandra Guha is a wonderful historian, a fine chronicler of Indian history. But he's got many things wrong here. Gavaskar and Shastri may be earning huge amounts but that does not make them cowardly. As a few have pointed out in these comments, Gavaskar has unremittingly blamed the IPL and twenty20 for the lack of technique in modern batsmen, including Indians. They have said or concurred with the view that Indian team's scheduling is skewed against test cricket. Those are clearly against the implicit board policy. Why should they be the ones to speak out against N.Srinivasan owing CSK?They are cricketers and analysts, not administrators. Now, while I've said all this, perhaps it is also true that Guha wishes for these stalwarts of Indian cricket to identify the rot and raise their voices against it;in a sense they are guilty of overlooking BCCI follies, and it looks bad when they are paid by the board for their services. But you can't say they follow dictates from BCCI

Posted by AvidFanDownUnder on (August 15, 2011, 10:28 GMT)

A well written article from an excellent writer - it's a shame that cricketers like Vengsarker all over the world (not just India) are blocked from helping the future stars - while cricket is a cash cow and needs to make money it will lose its allure and attraction if it puts money above everything else and while T20 and 50 over cricket is here to stay cricket is best exemplified by Test Matches. A great article again - it's a privilege to read these articles and is a perfect example of hard hitting columns. Well done.

Posted by   on (August 15, 2011, 10:17 GMT)

well done Mr. Guha, spectacular article. People take IPL as so sacred that they dont utter a single word against it. Even here you would find many people still defending IPL. I have been saying that players prefer IPL over country thats why they chose to play IPL, and when the time to play for country came, they either decided to 'rest' or were injured! Untimately we saw India winning only 1 test against a weak WI side, and have already lost 3-0 to England!

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (August 15, 2011, 10:17 GMT)

Alexk400 said all the words i wanted to say. Agree100%

Posted by   on (August 15, 2011, 10:08 GMT)

This is a brave and a true statement. Players like zaheer,sehwag,gambhir got injured because of IPL. IPL unless contained in its duration(4 weeks) is going to destroy Indian cricket.

Posted by   on (August 15, 2011, 9:06 GMT)

you are right alex.. good comment.. ipl has nothing to do with loss...its lack of good bowlers..good bowling keeps momentum ..

Posted by   on (August 15, 2011, 6:40 GMT)

West Indies had too many 20 - 20 competition at the domestic level. Their players transformed their style then and now they are no where. Team India is heading in the same direction, I suppose.

Posted by SoftwareStar on (August 15, 2011, 4:41 GMT)

This is true journalism. Well written Mr. Guha. It is fortunate that Karnataka and Indian cricket have contributors like you who have a genuine interest for the game.

Posted by rao_nanduri on (August 15, 2011, 4:03 GMT)

Well said , Mr.GUHA. I totally agree with you. Let's face it. The game of cricket has lost its soul , courtesy IPL. Everyone knows that. And no indian ( except those purists who follow the game religiously ) wants to acknowledge that fact. Very unfortunate. But , it can happen only in india , where only money talks.

Posted by getgopi on (August 15, 2011, 1:26 GMT)

Shastri and Gavaskar are both astute observers of the game and individual playing ability. Shastri actually mentioned in 2008 during a test between England and India that India needs to play more on bouncy pitches like the one (Bangalore?) that the teams were playing on at that time. True!

Yes, busy scheduling maybe an issue but that has been an issue for England and other top teams as well. Injuries can be picked up in any tournament. Gambhir's elbow injury in current series is a case in point. The core issue here is lack of good fitness as a solid foundation. When you are fit/strong, not only will you not injure easily, you can also recover faster from injuries/infections. Guys like Kohli and Raina have actually improved their game a lot in the last few years. To get better at Test cricket, you just have to play it more. There simply is no substitute for great fitness and playing experience.

Posted by viswanav on (August 15, 2011, 1:16 GMT)

Finally, someone has spoken out against the IPL! Absolutely courageous and brilliant article. Hope other analysts of the game can learn from this article. Well done, Mr. Guha!

Posted by   on (August 15, 2011, 0:55 GMT)

Excellent Article..I hold very similar views to the writer!

Posted by   on (August 15, 2011, 0:10 GMT)

You are right about Gavaskar being a great but Shastri was a mediocre allrounder and even worse commentator. I suspect the riches of the IPL have bought their souls.

Minus Dhoni and Dravid this indian team havent really looked up for the challenge - bresnan is no ambrose but he has been made to look like it. Indian bowling then has connived to turn him into a Viv Richards when batting.

From an indian perspective the worrying thing is the future without probably history's best middle order. Riches of the ipl mean that batsmen will naturally model themselves for that game and thus be thoroughly exposed when it comes to test. It is no surprise that the English havent really taken to the IPL even thought they are T20 champs.

India not only need batsmen but they need 2/3 genuinely quick pacemen as Zaheer Khan will not bail them out for much longer. Sharma for some reason is nothing like his former self and Kumar is a braveheart but not really international class.

Posted by starneo on (August 14, 2011, 23:31 GMT)

well this is not right...during commentary in WI tour and in the ongoing ENG tour i have heard many times Gavaskar & Shastri saying that due to shorter version of Game and demand of IPL batsmen have changed their basic technic and are pushing the ball while defending which leaves them vulnerable to swing bowling and also their is a chance of catches popping up...many times they gave example of Dravid's superior technic that how he doesnt push the bat while defending and uses soft hands...these two where really accusing Mukund, Kohli and Raina for pushing the ball while defending and giving easy catches to slips....and they said many times that this was the result of playing shorter version where u want to score on every ball....

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 23:02 GMT)

Well done Guha. You are the true journalist, never afraid to speak the truth. My respect for you has increased manyfold. Perhaps others (Harsha Bhogle included) could learn from this boldness. Gavaskar & Shastri have been closest to cricket administration among all former cricketers. However, their silence (atleast public) & pusillanimity has hurt the Indian Cricket a lot. On the other hand shame that a committed former cricketer like Vengsarkar couldn't muster enough support to contribute more to the game.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 22:31 GMT)

Shastri is never going to criticise the IPL since he is employed by them to do his ridiculous over the top commentary and hosting of the toss!

Posted by Alexk400 on (August 14, 2011, 22:19 GMT)

IPL has nothing to with India's loss. 1.3 billion people. And rely on avreage Zaheer khan for winning?. For me even zaheer played result would have been same. England worked out indian batsman. IPL or not , it is same people running. The same people do not search for Fats bowlers outside the parameter they set. 1 million sinhalese can find a malinga why not India?. All the brains , can't find a single fast bowler in 60 years. Stop blaming IPL, It has nothing to do with the loss. Blame the leadership and lack of vision of BCCI. Nothing more.

I may blame IPL for somthing else. Not for this loss. India was not number 1. India was destined to lose wen sachin 100's were more glorified in mdia than india winning. There is the core of the problem. Indians don't mind losing. It may be philosophical look of life. But for me it is loser's way. You have to win at all cost. Growth happens when you have something to achieve.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 22:09 GMT)

Thank you Mr.Guha. At least someone had the gumption to voice what most of us have suspected for a little while now. When it comes from an esteemed & eminent source like Ramachandra Guha, a prominent cricket historian, one has to sit up & take notice.

I have lost a lot of respect for Mr.Gavaskar. I feel let down by the great man. Ravi Shastri has been disgraceful in his scathing attack of Nasser Hussain by defending the board's ridiculous stance of the D.R.S issue. I find it shocking that none of our past cricketers have raised genuinely relevant questions about the conflict of interest in the board secretary N.Srinivasan owning the Chennai Super Kings team's franchise.

By making the players chose IPL over test cricket, the board has contributed to the disastrous performance of the team in the ongoing test series. The prioritization of IPL over test cricket as shown by the players is in extremely poor taste

Posted by Alexk400 on (August 14, 2011, 21:37 GMT)

IPL has nothing to do with INDIA's LOSS. It is lack of bowling strength caused the LOSS. India have lots of role players in bowling but no match winning bowlers. IPL actually helps more indians to play. So more gets exposed. Issue with india is selection policies . Bowling need identifiction of talent and training. Blaming IPL is immature reaction. Indian need to appoint a czar for establishing bowling acadamy without any influence of state cricket boards or administrators. Until then india can't play outside subcontinent

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 21:27 GMT)

Very well written and and a very valid Article

Posted by zico123 on (August 14, 2011, 21:24 GMT)

Dhoni, bhajji, Zaheer, Sachin, Viru, Gautam should quit IPL, if they want to prolong their international career, IPL is taking lot out of them.

Posted by zico123 on (August 14, 2011, 21:17 GMT)

it doesn't take rocket science to understand IPL is root cause for Team India's demice. if there was no IPL, Sehwag would have had operation before and would have been fit come 1st test against Eng. Sachin, Zaheer, Gambhir would have played WI tour and would have been better prepared for Eng tour, and Indian team would not have this mental and physical fatigue. but i am sure BCCI will not accept this and continue with IPL same way, as they are earning billions of money. its a shame

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (August 14, 2011, 20:42 GMT)

Interesting to say, but I wonder if IPL takes over the complete domestic season. Would be very very beneficial to India and countries all over the world if IPL was first class season instead of T20 and paid that much. Incentive goes to playing first class formats instead of T20 then Anyways the numbers don't lie and the numbers have been saying that after the 1st year of IPL success, it has been steadily declining in Number of Views.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 20:28 GMT)

I agree entirely with Guha on his quandary over the silence of the two men. However I wonder if the writer had voices his opinion on the MCA elections earlier and if so what they were! I am seeing a lot more media and writers now pointing fingers at IPL and 'daring' to name it as villain (which we the fans had spotted long ago) The media's chorus tirade against IPL is sudden and puzzling as much the silence of the men in the pay of BCCI. Does that mean these scribes aren't getting paid anymore by IPL/BCCI coterie?

Posted by niran1 on (August 14, 2011, 19:50 GMT)

Mr Guha, very nice article but one small suggestion, please remember Ravi Shatri has played only one successful series for India that is on Benson and Hedges after that its purely by polictics he survied in Indian Cricket, means basically he had survived by God Fathers like SMG.

Lastly please remember Shastri will never talk against IPL because he was sitting next to Mr Lalit Modi in meetings and he is also a recipient of IPL, so how can you expect him to talk against it. He is a big time politician in IPL, Recently ED folks contacted him to get some insider info from this dirty Shastri.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 18:09 GMT)

Brilliant article Mr.Guha...Now this has come from a true fan of the game.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 17:55 GMT)

Now Only if every journalist wrote articles like this we would be force to some independent thinking rather than enjoy a maxx mobile time out.....which the entire indian team is on right now.

Posted by Mahesh4811 on (August 14, 2011, 17:36 GMT)

It was under-prepration only. It wasn't bcos of IPL. Indian team went to no.1 spot two years after IPL started. And it remained there for 2 years despite IPL.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 17:23 GMT)

IPL has nothing to do with India's struggle in England. The fact is this England side is about the strongest they have had in a long time, and it seems that much of the time is in form at this time. This team trashed the mighty Australia in Australia, and with the likes of Cook, Strauss, Trott, Petersen, Anderson, etc, they will be a force for another 5 years or so. India has not so much struggled, but were overpowered. Had Zaheer been fit, the outcome would not have been different, but the margin of defeat smaller. The writer has a bone with IPL. Yet Dravid, Laxman, Sreesant, Sharma, hardly played any significant amount of IPL games. I have never heard of Mukund in the IPL. You blame IPL on his performance, too? IPL is a great idea! It is the future of cricket.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 16:56 GMT)

Its entirely naive to blame the IPL-most of the other cricketing nations play there as well.Lets blame the players instead-a team held together by Zaheer,Sehwag,Tendulkar and Dravid.Zaheer and Sehwag are too fat and unfit and thus more injury prone imo. When these guys fire team India is unbeatable and Dhoni can esconce himself as the calming facilitator but when the goings tough Dhoni is not hard enough. The players are to blame entirely when they havent advanced their games-take a bow RAINA,YUVRAJ,SREESANTH,SHARMA-a coach can only do so much-personal fitness and improvement are up to the player and they have to take personal responsibility-it is not the IPL or any other scapegoats fault.Thats rubbish.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 16:49 GMT)

Thats true. Its so simple to spot on the difference. Look, why Sachin doesn't play International T20 matches, while is playing so good and top run scorer in last few IPLs?? Why Ponting, Strauss, Cook, Bell, Johnson, Clarke have chosen not to play T20, simply because it does not let you concerntrate on your longer format. So buddies, choice is yours!!

Posted by MaruthuDelft on (August 14, 2011, 16:28 GMT)

Why blame IPL? It is a huge asset to BCCI so make use of it. Design and Stipulate a few targets. Form a second tier consisting 8 cities. A 4 weeks IPL should consist only 8 teams playing each other only once. 4 of the 7 in the IPL except the winner will be relegated; the winner and other 3 in the second tier will be promoted. Here comes the catch; relegation and promotion should strictly reflect all India interests; example; one promotion is slotted for playing an upcoming Indian fast bowler who recorded the highest average speed throughout the tournament; another place should slotted for playing Indians who until the next year IPL play most matches for Team India. Another slot be decided on supplying an Indian cricketer who will have done well in Eng, Aus & SA until the next IPL. Relegation too should be decided not by the points table but by the above 3 and another 4 criterion that will serve the Indian cricket. Develop fast men through IPL; pullers & hookers will follow.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 16:28 GMT)

Good article. But Shastri a stalwart??

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 15:55 GMT)

It's really a shame that Sunny Bhai has allowed himself to get dragged into this.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 13:37 GMT)

Well said Mr. Guha. But did you call Shastri a stalwart? :O

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 13:12 GMT)

Ram, this is timely and well-aimed. I would hesitate to blame SMG and Shastri for Vengsarkar's election defeat, however. If the electors were unable to figure out this very simple choice on their own, it's unlikely that Gavaskar and Shastri could have moved them to vote differently. But these elections are not entirely about reason and clean decision-making, you know that. Let me quote The Clash: "All the power's in the hands / Of the people rich enough to buy it."

Posted by jameckin on (August 14, 2011, 13:11 GMT)

An amazing and thought provoking article. I believe its all about the amount of money involved in the game. The current administrators and veterans are showing their contentment with the status quo for only one reason, MONEY. The love of the game and the pride for representing your country has been lost. Its about time all the die hard cricket fans must understand that we are getting fooled by some illiterate businessmen who have wrongly established themselves as the well wishers of the game but in turn are ruining it for personal gains.

Politicians must not be involved in the game of cricket. They want to fool people and turn everything into a money making machine. They don't take care of their regions and would turn a blind eye on a hungry pedestrian, then how in this world they will work hard for the benefit of the game. These people have no love for their county , let alone the game of cricket.

Posted by TeamRocker on (August 14, 2011, 12:50 GMT)

Very good and valid piece.

Posted by sundar1967 on (August 14, 2011, 12:30 GMT)

India's test cricket won't improve unless we stop playing IPL. Kumble will definitely support IPL since he is part of Royal challengers. From the day IPL has started the indian players have started making money and pride of playing for the nation is lost

Posted by sundar1967 on (August 14, 2011, 12:27 GMT)

nice article Mr.Guha.

But one thing Gavaskar and Shastri saved matched for India BIG JOKE!!!!

Please quote some matches won by both of them

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 12:24 GMT)

Scathing criticism of Gavaskar and Shastri by Ramachandra Guha - a writer I respect a lot.

Posted by CricFin on (August 14, 2011, 11:22 GMT)

India's winning of the World Cup had a lot to with the IPL. The IPL produced the players to be picked for the World Cup. Players like Munaf Patel, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, R Ashwin… they were all the products of the IPL. People just can't stomach its existence simply because of its success and the there is money involved.

True words......

Posted by george204 on (August 14, 2011, 11:22 GMT)

Vengsarkar was/is class - one of India's finest ever batsmen (his omission from the Cricinfo all-time Inndia XI was a travesty - an average of 44 in the era he played is worth AT LEAST 55 in this era) & a great man as well. MCA must have been out of their minds.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 10:59 GMT)

As a hardcore fan of cricket i would just like to say the whole debacle of indian team as test playing nation was obvious during the west indies series..india barely managed to clinch the series there..indian batting doesnt seemed great there..and while coming to england where conditions are much tougher and england which is much better side than west indies..it was really tough for us..sachin was best at times and in patches..he seemd to be more of defensive mindset..dravid just carried his form from west indies...bt u cant expect a single man army to be champion in a battle..still i dont think its time to press the panic button..our country is still the better side in the shorter version..bt as a cricket lover it really worries me what will be the post effect after sachin dravid and laxman decides to cal it off..

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 10:37 GMT)

as a hardcore fan of cricket i dont feel there is a need to press the panic button..bcse dere is still time for us to rebuild ourselevs and do our best in the last test match..the west indies series was sign for the team india that not everything was right for us..we barely managed to win the test series..if dravid would have decided to leave the wi series den definitely we would have seen the result other way..and as far as england is concerned ,they are far better side than west indies and the conditions are not suited for the way we indians play our cricket..i can assure and can guarantee that indians are still the best in one dayers..bt in tests..time will tell..but the big question that must haunt every great fan of our nation is that"AS EVERY DAWN IS FOLLOWED BY DARK NIGHT..SO What will happen when the three greats of world cricket decides to call it a day..are india already towards their dark night??"

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 10:27 GMT)

Perfect writing, this. Shastri and Gavaskar are in a lot of simmering water now.

Posted by CricFin on (August 14, 2011, 10:11 GMT)

According to so called writers

If India wins world cup it is not because of IPL

If India looses it is because of IPL..Why did India was not winning in 70's 80's.

Posted by aseemsharma on (August 14, 2011, 9:38 GMT)

@Kaushal_b.good to see there are people who want to boycott IPL, just as i want to.after the series everybody will say it was just some hard luck for india.the problem lies in the fact that we have not been able to nurture quality cricketers.We still rely on Sachin and Dravid HEAVILY.21 years for sachin already and it's a shame that he is still the main batsman of the side.And the BIGGEST UPSET IS THAT IPL HAS OVERSHADOWED THE TESTED FORMAT OF FIRST CLASS, WHICH HAS BEEN PRODUCING GEMS FOR YEARS.

Posted by Indiawise on (August 14, 2011, 9:34 GMT)

Agree with Mr Guha. Very valid criticism.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 9:31 GMT)

Murali Vijay is one of the latest victims to IPL, His technique worsned after the IPL.

He was the 3rd Best Test opener, but just 3 Years of IPL and he has lost his skills as a test opening batsmen and now his place in the Indian Side

Posted by envirus on (August 14, 2011, 9:02 GMT)

Academics: Real test of an academician lies in his research; Engineering: Real test of an engineer lies in his constructions; Medicine: Real test of a Doctor lies in his diagnosis or operation; Wrestling: Real test of a wrestler lies in "free style"; : : Cricket: real test of a cricketer lies in his ability to play test matches; And this facts will remain true however hard people try to commercialize this sport and every other modes of life.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 8:30 GMT)

Yes, we Indians are on a fast track now... a little too commercialized... so T20 is going to live (more so in India) and Tests are going to die. Think about it, why will youngsters to go through the grinds of a test, when there's an easier way to earn millions from the IPL (Play one season and you are pretty well off)? It's pretty similar to a class XII passed student going for a BPO/IT job rather than going for higher studies (leave alone research, which is a far cry & pretty grinding like test matches). Long live India for such short-sighted policies.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 8:00 GMT)

As always from Mr Guha - thought-provoking & incisive. Couldn't agree more - both on the attitude of these two stalwarts of the game and on the effect that the IPL is having on Indian cricket

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 7:37 GMT)

certainly gavaskar should not be questioned watever he says on air he was one and only who fought the deadly fast attacks of past

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 7:29 GMT)

Very frank article. Pretty impressive write up. One problem with Ravi and Gavaskar like the BCCI itself is in taking extreme positions at unwanted times and being defensive and diplomatic at tough choices like the MCA election. Why not set an example by standing for elections themselves like Kumble did for the sake of KSCA, or atleast make their voice vocal about one or other of the candidates!

Posted by Shoobhit on (August 14, 2011, 7:27 GMT)

Well said, Mr Guha. After NMML, its BCCI....anyway I cant stop myself comparing SG with AB for their sheer hypocrisy in public life. I find both of them setting lofty ideals for others while doing nothing at their turn.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 7:23 GMT)

one of th best article in recent times.....HOPE it reaches gavaskar ji n shastri ji !

Posted by Pankaj_INDIA on (August 14, 2011, 7:20 GMT)

good article about IPL and MCA election but unnecessary criticism of Gavaskar is not justified. he has given his whole life for Indian Cricket.. he has fought hard against eng and aus's biased domination in world cricket. he is the voice of Indian cricket, and i m feeling proud to be an indian because he played for india, because Sachin plays for india, because MSD captains India....a real proud cricketer will never question Gavaskar's commitment towards cricket...

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 6:58 GMT)

Finally Cricinfo turns out a piece that is so necessarily frank and display the feeling of a true Indian cricket fan...Bravo Mr. Guha !!!

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 6:46 GMT)

Have you considered that maybe, just maybe, they themselves don't consider IPL to the be the be all and end all of India's problems? Yes, there is the shady underpinnings of them being paid by the Board to toot its clarion, but on the other hand, these two might actually believe that the IPL is more beneficial to Indian cricket than it is detrimental.

Either way, I like Ganguly's commentary more than these two. He may not be as fluent as Gavaskar or Shashtri (I blame it on his relative inexperience in the booth- he should get better very soon as he spends a few tournaments in there), but his comments are always incisive, economical and clinical. Gavaskar and Shashtri might have been great Test players, but they weren't better captains than Ganguly, and that shows in the gist of their commentary.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 6:33 GMT)

Rightly said by the writer.

Posted by evenflow_1990 on (August 14, 2011, 6:32 GMT)

i think this is a very good article. shedding light on these issues is a good way to correct them.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 6:29 GMT)

Well said, Mr. Guha. It shocks me that persons of the calibre of Gavaskar and Shastri have allowed themselves to become puppets of the BCCI. I dont expect the current leading lights of our team to do any better as they have such shining examples as Gavaskar before them. Mukul Kesavan was absolutely right when he labeled our current leading rights as "muted monarchs" in comparison to Kumar Sangakkara.

Posted by Kaushal_b on (August 14, 2011, 6:28 GMT)

Nothing's going to change. Unfortunately, there's no concept of conflict of interest within the BCCI, and now even for Gavaskar or Shastri. I said it in 2008, and I'm saying it again, the IPL will continue to destroy cricket. The only thing that can stop it from continuing to happen is if we, fans, decide to boycott all IPL matches, but then again, do us fans have it in us to do that. It is time that each and very true fan of Indian cricket takes personal responsibility for this debacle. It's time for sport to remain a sport and not be a vehicle for entertainment. Is anyone else besides me, as a fan, prepared come out and take personal responsibility?

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 6:17 GMT)

This is just a phase...Dhoni will come back strongly....!!!!!

Posted by donda on (August 14, 2011, 6:13 GMT)

Answer to your question : T2020 is the future of cricket and test cricket is not. People want entertainment and cricketers will support what fan wants. All cricket fans want T2020 because it's entertaining , its fast and its cricket.

No body will come to help to save test cricket from going down.

I support T2020 and i think IPL is the best thing happen to cricket after Kerry packer.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 6:12 GMT)

It's on the cricketers to reject the IPL offer, they make the final call. For test cricketers fitness is the prime factor, you can't get away with it once you have minor injuries in IPL. Tendulkar, et al should reject the offer and give preference to Test Cricket. Bopara rejected Tendulkar's IPL offer for Mumbai Indians, that we call dedication.

Posted by arenski on (August 14, 2011, 6:10 GMT)

Dear Sir,

We the common people have no idea what goes on behind the curtain and the newspapers bringing out the information on Shastri and Gavaskar being pais by BCCI throws a lot of light on what the aim of the board is.

I never realised that these two have not said anything against BCCI or IPL on air until now.

It is very agonising to watch cricketers not interested in playing test cricket. Very good example is malinga.

Once Dravid retires I do not see any youngster playing stylish cricketing strokes.

It's a dream to play cricket for INDIA but now I think its a dream to play IPL as every player wants fast cars, modern apartments in Mumbai or Delhi, endorsements, healthy bank balance, fame, power and women.

A word on Zaheer Khan is whats missing from the perfect article.

Its a shame!

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 6:02 GMT)

I am disappointed with gavaskar. Sashtri - is just not in the same league as a cricketer, nor known to defend any person or thing on moral grounds. I am surprised the suthor included shastri among the "two most famous cricketers" from the city - surely, Mumbai has produced many better and more famous crickets than "hai hai".

Posted by tpjpower on (August 14, 2011, 6:00 GMT)

I don't think Ravi Shastri is a complete buffoon, but he does a fantastic impression of one. As for Gavaskar, his reputation as a commentator has never matched his reputation as a cricketer. Money, power and corporate greed are as insidious and poisonous in cricket as in any other sport.

Posted by sewd on (August 14, 2011, 5:36 GMT)

Brilliant Ramachandra Guha' As an ardent Indian/Mumbai supporter I am saddened. Both are very astute and financially very savvy. Both have also been very assertive in promoting Indian cricket causes and taken on (generally english and australian) individuals/institutions when deemed necessary. Both of them are also willing to fight for a cause. However now we know that they are willing to "See no truth, speak no truth, do no truth" for a few extra bucks. They have enough money to last a lifetime and more, and they deserve every penny. But why have they sold their souls? Are they also like one of the Media pubilcation in India who have introduced the concept of "Paid News"?

Posted by Hurricane08 on (August 14, 2011, 5:35 GMT)

That's because both are politicians first. You have better success getting a straight answer from Ganguly and Manjrekar.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 5:34 GMT)

"If India have performed poorly in the ongoing Test series against England, the excessive burdens placed on the players by the IPL are surely a key factor." Undoubtedly true. Well penned article. Al though it looks like a let down of frustration,the author genuinely cares for cricketers and thee time they need as human beings to be more effective. Don't cram their schedules just to milk money. BCCI is slaying golden egg laying Indian cricketers like MS Dhoni, Sachin, Rahul, VVS, Sehwag, Gambhir, Raina, Yuvaraj, Zaheer, Harbhajan, Vijay etc.

Posted by AKalidas on (August 14, 2011, 5:30 GMT)

Well said Ram ! But harldy surprising, for the lure of bg bucks have made stronger men crumble and toe the line. N Srinivasan knows where the money is and he wants more. He refused World cup fixture, refused Test match that was due for Chennai this winter, just to get IPL opening, semi, final games as also the CL games. I am sure the Board is worried that Test cricket is causing injuries to their star and highly valued IPL player Gambhir. Sad days for the Indian cricket......

Posted by SmellyCat on (August 14, 2011, 5:18 GMT)

I dont mind them being paid by the BCCI, but by not speaking out their mind they're doing a disservice not only to Indian Cricket, the fans but also to their Employers - BCCI. If BCCI is doing wrong then they must stand up, just like they expect Indian Cricket team to stand up, and speak their mind and support the right stuff. Kapil speaks his mind, right or wrong, but no one bothers about him as he is not articulate and BCCI snubs him as he was associated with ICL. Shastri was always very selfish and was never an extraordinary player.. he was only liked for his commentary but seems he has lost that too.

I hope Sachin, Rahul, Saurav, Anil all stand up and be counted here. They need to voice their opinion as senior cricket statesman .

Posted by chandau on (August 14, 2011, 5:17 GMT)

IPL is not bad for cricket. It is the way format operates that puts cricketers in peril. 1st the decision to expand meant there will be more matches; not good for already exhausted players. 2nd TV time meant playing matches too close and scheduling meant some teams had back-to-back; too tiring and causes injuries. 3rd its a new tournament, annual infact, which was not in the previous playing calendar thus cramped the already tight international schedule or made some guys skip matches. Best example of a similar cse is the Super 15 Rugby, which has gron from S12. It was too long and too tiring for players that has left South Africa without some of their best. Cricket should learn from that. Look at the structure; there is domestic, IPL, International club (champions league) and International 3 formats. Of the 10 nations not all get simillar opportunities. Sri Lanka play far less matches than India because of TV coverage. Money is the root of all evil, maybe BCCI will think over :)

Posted by ARad on (August 14, 2011, 5:15 GMT)

I have three words for you: FOLLOW THE MONEY. Why would anyone criticize the cash cow of BCCI when some of it is trickling down to him? Cricket boards are monopolies so they would be able to easily find other employment. Ravi Shastri is the ultimate company man and if you have the misfortune to listen to him whenever he commentates, it is always obvious.

Posted by mdho on (August 14, 2011, 5:10 GMT)

"...their commitment to cricket is not as dispassionate as it perhaps should be."

I'd say the opposite actually - they are being completely dispassionate, cynical, and self-serving. With a bit (or a lot) of passion, they wouldn't care that they'd make a little bit less money by going against the BCCI and the IPL..or indeed that they would no longer be part of the establishment of Indian cricket. Hope they find that passion...

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 4:21 GMT)

OMG Ramachandra nu have pulled out words from my mouth..its almost ridiculous the way they have been tighlipped about the falacies of BCCI..the most famous example would be the ''Trent-gate'' incident between Nasser Hussain and Ravi shastri where ravi quickly came to support the BCCI..there has to be accountability and at the BCCI is anything but accountable

Posted by deepak_sholapurkar on (August 14, 2011, 4:21 GMT)

"When these two are in contract with BCCI. how can they criticize BCCI". Yesterday I saw "Anil Kumble" defending IPL, saying In IPL matches a bowler will ball only 4 overs so they should not get tired.

As all these former players which are in contract with BCCI/IPL Franchises will never criticize IPL.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (August 14, 2011, 4:15 GMT)

Mr. Guha, don't break your head over people who have their own reservations. Shastri was a horrible lollipop bowler and an over-rated batsman. His commentary is worse than his cricket. He thinks he is talking about cricket by shouting at the top of his voice. Beggars belief, why and how he can become an important member of Indian Cricket after he stopped playing. For Gavaskar, cricket starts and ends with Sachin; even if he wrongly claims a catch, the other seasoned and widely respected icon (Dravid) has to walk (circa IPL incident). While he's at it, he'll also want to take care of his bank balance. He is way too blinkered. Indian Cricket can go to hell, as far as Gavaskar and Shastri are concerned. To put it differently, they both are (biased) professionals. They are there to earn money for their (blinkered and substandard) services. Period! Why should they care about Cricket? Are Doctors and Engineers talking about all that is wrong regarding their establishments? I don't think so.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 4:14 GMT)

May be wo should not give too much importance to what these guys say on TV

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (August 14, 2011, 4:13 GMT)

Sigh. Ok the IPL may have contributed to the absolute smashing BUT based on evidence, Ind would still most likely be 3-0 down. Funny thing is the only time Ind reached a t-20 final was the first t-20 tourney BEFORE THE IPL, such irony that they have been poor in t-20's ever since.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 4:11 GMT)

this is exactly why india cannot remain a cricketing superpower in the long term - yes they may have the money and all, and the talent in the short term, but it won't translate to performance if it means that major decisions are made by people who don't necessarily have the game's best interests at heart. the fact that a legend like vengsarkar lost out to a politician shows how the power structure works. if there is a strong corporate governance like in australia/england - correct decisions can be made at the grassroots level which is where all the talent is eventually picked from. the current method just encourages player burnout and administrative laziness...

Posted by nafzak on (August 14, 2011, 4:10 GMT)

Good questions...tough questions. Bottom line is that 20/20 is damaging to test cricket. As a West Indian, I have seen good players like Sarwan who worked hard ridding himself on bad habits, get right back to same after playing 20/20. We have talented players like K. Powell who may never reach their full potential because of 20/20. And of course - there is just too much of it. That's the biggest problem. Immediately after the WC, they play IPL, ODIs over and over and over.. it's killing the game.

Posted by AndyZaltzmannsHair on (August 14, 2011, 4:04 GMT)

Mohammad Yousuf spoke out last year against the overdose of T20 cricket, domestically and internationally, and how it was not a stable base to groom players. He mentioned inferior techniques and lack of ability which would result. When these comments were put forward to MS Dhoni, he proceeded to slap Yousuf's words back in his face and stated in unequivocal terms that T20 cricket was doing no harm. Hmm... Maybe Dhoni should have listened to Yousuf instead of disregarding his words. Maybe world cricket should have listened to him...

Posted by asif2311 on (August 14, 2011, 4:00 GMT)

magniicent, kudos to u mr. guha, u spoke the heart of the nation....IPL has ruined cricket in india....it should stop immidiately otherwise indian cricket will be like the EPL...one of the richest football league yet the home nation won the world cup in 1966 only....a billion stars to this article and i am ashamed that commentators like Gavaskar are still taking salaries...dont they feel a cry from cauncience to think about indian cricket n not money

Posted by gp57 on (August 14, 2011, 3:54 GMT)

Vengsarkar deserves to lose. He is a politician. Did he not play politics to have Dravid give up his captaincy in frustration becoz of his antics. Dravid being a gentleman to the core did not hit back at this fellow. For his doings god has punished Vengsarkar. He (vengsarkar) desrves this and more for his doings against Rahul.

Posted by Drew2 on (August 14, 2011, 3:51 GMT)

One only has to look at Gavaskar's behaviour on the cricket field during his career to know that below the silky smooth exterior lies a man with agendas and axes to grind.

Posted by KSG1 on (August 14, 2011, 3:47 GMT)

These days people don't even feel embarrassed by such revelations. Overlooking the very human nature of a conflict of interest in this situation, Gavaskar and Shastri try to vindicate their multi-crore payments from BCCI. Gavaskar was actually one of the shrewdest politicians when he was playing - so this was kind of expected from him. The pity is there is nobody else to challenge them as commentators - Dada is new to this and I hope he brings some gumption to this role much like he did with the India captaincy. There needs to be some strong former cricketers who should rally against these practices. Ultimately cricket would suffer as we are seeing with India's performance - to say that IPL is not too blame is like shoving the dirt under the carpet. It is not IPL that is to blame, but the fact that these cricketers do not really have a break from playing all year round. And the two former cricketers on the payroll of BCCI are not the ones to say anything against their paymaster.

Posted by Goldenspoon on (August 14, 2011, 3:45 GMT)

Any sensible Indian knows that the IPL and its scheduling is among the main reasons behind Indias test debacle. However IPL means money and therefore not just Gavaskar and Shastri but even the cricketers themselves would not blame the league due to personal interests.It is for the country to understand that IPL is run by big business houses who are only interested in promoting their own concerns. Therefore it is just a circus with the players as jokers in the name of cricket. IPL is also something which is convenient for the person who doesnt love the game much and is looking for some quick entertainment. It is now clear that Gavaskar and Shastri belong to this category. What cricketing sense do guys like Modi, Pawar, Deshmukh have? And you have guys like Gavaskar supporting them. The worst is that these two blokes turn up on tv and try to justify the Indian teams performance by making statements like alien conditions etc. Wake up India the game is in the wrong hands.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2011, 3:38 GMT)

Beautifully written, Mr. Guha. Perhaps we deserve to lose because of this obsession with the IPL. Wait and see how they treat Rahul Dravid.

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (August 14, 2011, 3:36 GMT)

I applaud writer for writing a bold article. I can not agree any more with everything he has said. Gavaskar who by far the the best Indian batsman( far ahead of Tendulya) as he scored everywhere against everyone despite a relatively poor record against Pakistan used to be my favourite commentator. I recall seeing WC92 as a child and remember how Gavaskar was unbiased and amid all doom and gloom knew that Imran Khan will inspire the best WC win ever by anytime to date. I concur with writer that why Gavaskar and Shastri are not speaking? However if media reports are true than it appears that they are on BCCI's payroll. It is a real shame as Gavaskar and Shastri are in a position to contribute a lot. They are well established cricket commentators. I will be dispapointed if Gavskar will go on BCCI payrol to stop airing his views but then againt we live in a strange new world!

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