January 7, 2011

Beware a self-absorbed India

The game is in trouble when its most powerful member board can't be bothered to run cricket in its own country properly
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Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, perhaps the only high-profile person to have emerged from the IPL mess with his dignity somewhat intact, did some straight-talking about the BCCI recently. For all its financial might, he said, the Indian board enjoyed little goodwill in the cricket world. It kept its door closed and it didn't take much interest in the global governance of the game.

"The ICC may well be the voice of cricket; the BCCI is an invoice," he said, adding a touch of humour, and went on to prescribe that it was time for the Indian board to back its financial clout with moral leadership.

Outwardly the cricket world is far less fractious at present than in the 80s and 90s, when the Asian nations either felt victimised or asserted themselves aggressively. This, though, is not a peace obtained by goodwill and understanding but through grudging submission to the game's sole economic superpower. Underneath the deceptively calm waters simmers discontent and distrust. Middle India is giddy in anticipation of economic superpowerdom, and to millions of Indian cricket fans the cricket board's clout is both an affirmation of a wider trend and also a welcome role reversal.

But a self-absorbed leader is hardly good news for the world at large. Much like the United Nations, the ICC is a world body only in name. However well-intentioned the executive wing might be, the decisions that matter are taken in the boardroom, which is bereft of true leadership.

The major achievement of the ICC board in 2010 was blocking the vice-presidency, and ultimately thereby the presidency, of John Howard, the former Australian prime minister, who was considered too right-wing for many members. On matters like the Umpire Decision Review System, a common set of guidelines for drug-testing, or scheduling, the board could not find common ground, with the leader pulling the other way. Far from being the moral force or custodian of cricket's welfare, the Indian cricket board has come to be regarded as a boardroom bully, guided mostly by self-interest.

The biggest challenge for the game in the coming years will be to find the right balance for its three forms and to ensure the good health of cricket in places like West Indies and New Zealand. This will require drawing up a cricket calendar that doesn't merely serve the interests of individual boards but the wider interests of the game. This in turn will mean making collective and individual sacrifices.

As we have seen through the year, given the right occasion and the right opponents, each form of the game can hold its own. And to keep players fit and fresh and spectators hungry and eager, the amounts have to be right too. The problem with the Future Tours Programme has always been that it is no more than a set of guidelines, with individual boards, mainly the rich ones, drawing up their own programmes as they go along. The annual one-day series between India and Australia, which was curtailed last year to accommodate two Tests that India desired, is the perfect example of such expedient bilateralism.

Cricket can be legislated and governed only if its leaders allow it. And its future health can only be secured through foresight. For a start, administrators must stop obsessing with money. The big countries have enough of it already. Cricket's tragedy is that its biggest visionary in the last decade happened to be Lalit Modi. He brought entrepreneurial nous and serious ambition but it was clear that his heart didn't beat for cricket, and he took the obsession with money and the power it brought to an obscene level. The only surprising thing about his fall was its swiftness, but his spirit still hovers over the BCCI.

Cricket-minded administrators are a rarity in the BCCI and their voices are often drowned in the noise over filling the coffers or board politics. It took a plea from Gary Kirsten to free up a few players so they could spend a few days in South Africa before India's toughest and the most important overseas assignment of the year. They still went into the first Test without a practice game. Contrast that with England's preparation for the Ashes: they arrived three weeks early and played three practice matches.

The biggest challenge for the game in the coming years will be to find the right balance for its three forms and to ensure the good health of cricket in countries like West Indies and New Zealand. This will require drawing up a cricket calendar that doesn't merely serve the interests of individual boards but the wider interests of the game

The unipolarity of the global power structure is hardly the BCCI's fault. In fact, it is right that the nation that sustains the cricket economy should also be the leader. But the frightening thing for the game is that the BCCI can't even be bothered to care about the welfare of cricket in India. You just have to watch a cricket broadcast in the country to know where the board's heart lies.

Keep the UDRS basic, enforce it uniformly
Even the worst critics of the UDRS wouldn't argue against its primary objective: to minimise decision-making errors and to maximise the delivery of justice. But not all defenders and proponents of the system seem to agree on the best way to implement it. As it stands the UDRS is flawed on three counts. One, it delivers justice for some. Two, the technology used is neither uniform nor foolproof. Three, it has been left to a consensus between the participating nations to use it, and the BCCI is having none of it.

Nothing illustrates the first point better than the case of Mike Hussey in the Ashes opener at the Gabba. On 82, Hussey successfully challenged an lbw decision given against him by Aleem Dar, where the replay showed the ball to have pitched outside leg stump. A clear case of justice delivered. Four overs later, with Hussey on 83, Dar ruled not out against two consecutive lbw shouts from James Anderson, and the replays showed that had England reviewed, they would have nailed Hussey on the second appeal. But they had exhausted their reviews, and worse for them, one of those, for caught-behind against Michael Clarke, had been lost because HotSpot had apparently failed to pick a thin edge. It wasn't the first such instance - I remember Dinesh Karthik readily admitting to having nicked the ball in England once, even though HotSpot detected no impact - and since the Snickometer isn't fully reliable either, justice can go astray.

It is the same with the ball-tracking system. There was an amusing shadow war between the owners of Hawk-Eye and Virtual Eye over whose system was superior, and all that emerged from it was that neither is 100% accurate.

Leaving it to the players to challenge a decision that has gone against them is always problematic. It works perfectly when batsmen know they have either edged or not edged a ball. Alastair Cook and Shane Watson got caught-behind decisions overturned in Adelaide and Perth, and in both cases the call for the review was instantaneous. But leave it to batsmen and they will often clutch at straws, as Watson, Steven Smith and Ian Bell did in this series, and it can lead to another batsman being denied justice because of appeals wasted by his colleagues. And unlimited reviews will simply make the game crawl.

There is a point of view, championed passionately by Mark Taylor, that the decision should be taken away from the players and it should be left to the third umpire to intervene to correct his colleagues in the middle. But this will only benefit batsmen who have been given out wrongly; there simply isn't enough time between balls for a bowler to be similarly rewarded. Also, putting the onus on the on-field umpires to seek assistance from their colleague in the box for edges and lbws would put unfair pressure on them and oblige them to go upstairs for most decisions, as happened during the ill-conceived SuperTest between Australia and the Rest of the World in 2005.

Then there is the question of who should pay for the technology. Broadcasters who use these tools to enhance their offerings to consumers cannot be obliged to provide it for decision-making. And since the system is expensive not all cricket boards can afford it. Perhaps the ICC ought to fund it, but that would be at the cost of supporting cricket in the weaker nations, who depend on ICC grants. In fact, the ICC is using the UDRS only from the quarter-final stage onwards at the World Cup because they can't find enough HotSpot cameras to go around. And even if they did, they would perhaps not be able to afford them.

It must be remembered that the system was introduced to eliminate blatant errors, such as the reprieve to Andrew Symonds in the Sydney Test in 2008, which led to a lot of bad blood. But players are often using it for marginal decisions, and sometimes just because a challenge is available. Thirty-two successful reviews in 2010 indicates the system has succeeded in delivering justice in these cases, but 89 unsuccessful ones imply players are often using it in hope rather than with conviction.

There are no easy solutions, let alone perfect ones. Perhaps a beginning can be made by trying to simplify things.

One, stick to using it for line decisions. Pitch mats can go wrong too, but they are generally reliable. Judging where the ball pitched and the point of impact with the pad is fairly simple, and it's something everyone can see. Keep the ball-tracking out: it is a projection, which depends on the conditions, the machines and the men who operate them.

Thick edges are fairly simple to see. So either invest heavily in HotSpot and use it in every Test match, or stick with what the camera can pick up. For reasons that can't be fully explained, fans and players are far more willing to live with marginal decisions, so a civil war is unlikely to break out if a faint edge goes undetected.

And last, ensure that the system is enforced uniformly. It is ridiculous to have two sets of rules in Test cricket. It is up to the ICC executive to make a decision and for the board to enforce it. It shouldn't be left to the whims of individual boards or players.

Pakistan: a change must come
The Pakistan cricket fan has got used to feeling despondent, but even by the usual standards this was a bleak year for their side. More's the pity because there were wonderful moments on the field, which included winning a Test against Australia after 14 years. But every time you thought nothing worse or more bizarre could happen to Pakistan cricket, it did.

There are plenty of things that are out of the control of the men who run Pakistan cricket. It is unlikely international cricket will return to the country in a hurry. India are unlikely to engage in bilateral contests without government approval. And it is likely that a few of Pakistan's players will serve bans. But the Pakistan cricket establishment and the fans will do themselves the greatest disservice if they spend time moping about injustice and injury. The renewal of Pakistan cricket must begin from within because the rot begins from there. It is incredible that while players have been dropped, banned and fined, Ijaz Butt, the source of greatest embarrassment to Pakistan cricket, and the biggest cause of administrative ineptitude, has survived.

That Pakistan remain competitive and solvent is in the interests of world cricket, and everything that can be done must be done to help them. But such help cannot be unconditional. It must come with a rider that Pakistan begin by helping themselves. It might sound too radical, but the ICC's Pakistan task force mustn't only have the brief to oversee, but the teeth to reform the Pakistan cricket establishment.

Without the acknowledgment that things need to change and a commitment to pursue it, any improvement in the state of Pakistan cricket would be illusory and short-lived.

Sambit Bal is the editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on January 10, 2011, 12:35 GMT

    UDRS: 32 successful reviews against 89 unsuccessful ones.

    Fascinating stats. Where can I get hold of the data for more analysis?

    Does anybody publish UDRS data?

  • on January 10, 2011, 5:18 GMT

    Actually I am yet too see India playing a positive role...let alone a constructive role. Its really unfortunate...as they say 'with great powers come greater responsibilities'.

  • Courtpara on January 10, 2011, 3:23 GMT

    HiyerNHiyer - I am not sure how Indian Cricket Board help bangladesh cricket? What we know Bangladesh got a premature test status and bashed by the cricketing world for not performing well. Getting test status by bangladesh empowered South Asian Cricket Borads in some way.

  • Azfar on January 8, 2011, 22:57 GMT

    The IPL has become the number 1 priority for the BCCI. Simply because IPL means big money. It is absolutely clear to anyone who knows Cricket that IPL has been damaging to Indian Cricket. The long IPL seasons prior to the 2007 and the 2009 T20 world cups were the reson for abject showing by India. But BCCI has gone ahead and increased the number of teams. It is clear that too much money in the T20 format is detrimental to Test Cricket but BCCI keeps promoting the IPL. The number 1 danger to International Cricket today is the devaluation of Test Cricket. The BCCI must take the lead to correct this. BCCI spends so much time and effort in planning the IPL, but when it comes to Test Cricket , Dhoni has to plead with the BCCI to send the send in advance to South Africa so that players can acclimatize, such is the brazen approach BCCI has towards Tests and its own team......

  • HiyerNHiyer on January 8, 2011, 15:48 GMT

    Stop crying foul. Liek someone pointed out, Asian hockey style was not suited to astroturf but the FIH made it mandatory as it augured well for the powerful FIH members from Europe. There is no harm in throwing the weight around as long as its not illegitimate

  • HiyerNHiyer on January 8, 2011, 15:45 GMT

    Strange Sambit , but its become a fashion to bash the BCCI and India for everything that goes wrong in cricket administration. Cmon you people with such high morals, where were you when India rather the BCCI did not have such monies. Today people have issues because the subcontinent teams rule the roost and a subcontinent board has been more effective in benefitting from the sponsors. Yes we are an influential economy and we are the worlds richest board, I as an Indian fan am not ashamed about it. BCCI was key to the SA cricket team getting reinstated in world cricket, helping Bangladesh and Srilankan boards as well when needed. Yes we had issues with Pak but that is diplomacy calling shots in sports. Cmon, an Aussie Politician wanted to become the ICC cheif and we all know how Moralistic the aussies are as a bunch. Give me a break Yes BCCI has management style issues and we will sort it out. Stop crying foul over everything.

  • cric4world on January 8, 2011, 13:00 GMT

    u hardly see such a thoughtful article on cricinfo. after a long long time i enjoyed an article here.good job

  • on January 8, 2011, 10:13 GMT

    Yeah India needs to play a more pro active role as the real leader of contemporary international cricket. They can start by supporting countries like Bangladesh and Nepal. Sure they have been supportive and as a Bangladeshi I am gr8ful. Howeven it has the capacity to do more.

  • pakwellwisher on January 8, 2011, 5:26 GMT

    @Dale Clark, I think its about time some of you realised that the rest of the world is not as excited about the ashes as Aus and Eng.By saying that it remains the most popular series you are trying to force your opinion on to others,which may not be neccessarily correct.

  • Beef_ on January 8, 2011, 3:45 GMT

    Skylight28 - Well said.Couldnt agree more with you. It is about that BCCI is NOT blamed for anything and everything in this world. Yes, it has its own flaws like any other body but there is a limit

  • on January 10, 2011, 12:35 GMT

    UDRS: 32 successful reviews against 89 unsuccessful ones.

    Fascinating stats. Where can I get hold of the data for more analysis?

    Does anybody publish UDRS data?

  • on January 10, 2011, 5:18 GMT

    Actually I am yet too see India playing a positive role...let alone a constructive role. Its really unfortunate...as they say 'with great powers come greater responsibilities'.

  • Courtpara on January 10, 2011, 3:23 GMT

    HiyerNHiyer - I am not sure how Indian Cricket Board help bangladesh cricket? What we know Bangladesh got a premature test status and bashed by the cricketing world for not performing well. Getting test status by bangladesh empowered South Asian Cricket Borads in some way.

  • Azfar on January 8, 2011, 22:57 GMT

    The IPL has become the number 1 priority for the BCCI. Simply because IPL means big money. It is absolutely clear to anyone who knows Cricket that IPL has been damaging to Indian Cricket. The long IPL seasons prior to the 2007 and the 2009 T20 world cups were the reson for abject showing by India. But BCCI has gone ahead and increased the number of teams. It is clear that too much money in the T20 format is detrimental to Test Cricket but BCCI keeps promoting the IPL. The number 1 danger to International Cricket today is the devaluation of Test Cricket. The BCCI must take the lead to correct this. BCCI spends so much time and effort in planning the IPL, but when it comes to Test Cricket , Dhoni has to plead with the BCCI to send the send in advance to South Africa so that players can acclimatize, such is the brazen approach BCCI has towards Tests and its own team......

  • HiyerNHiyer on January 8, 2011, 15:48 GMT

    Stop crying foul. Liek someone pointed out, Asian hockey style was not suited to astroturf but the FIH made it mandatory as it augured well for the powerful FIH members from Europe. There is no harm in throwing the weight around as long as its not illegitimate

  • HiyerNHiyer on January 8, 2011, 15:45 GMT

    Strange Sambit , but its become a fashion to bash the BCCI and India for everything that goes wrong in cricket administration. Cmon you people with such high morals, where were you when India rather the BCCI did not have such monies. Today people have issues because the subcontinent teams rule the roost and a subcontinent board has been more effective in benefitting from the sponsors. Yes we are an influential economy and we are the worlds richest board, I as an Indian fan am not ashamed about it. BCCI was key to the SA cricket team getting reinstated in world cricket, helping Bangladesh and Srilankan boards as well when needed. Yes we had issues with Pak but that is diplomacy calling shots in sports. Cmon, an Aussie Politician wanted to become the ICC cheif and we all know how Moralistic the aussies are as a bunch. Give me a break Yes BCCI has management style issues and we will sort it out. Stop crying foul over everything.

  • cric4world on January 8, 2011, 13:00 GMT

    u hardly see such a thoughtful article on cricinfo. after a long long time i enjoyed an article here.good job

  • on January 8, 2011, 10:13 GMT

    Yeah India needs to play a more pro active role as the real leader of contemporary international cricket. They can start by supporting countries like Bangladesh and Nepal. Sure they have been supportive and as a Bangladeshi I am gr8ful. Howeven it has the capacity to do more.

  • pakwellwisher on January 8, 2011, 5:26 GMT

    @Dale Clark, I think its about time some of you realised that the rest of the world is not as excited about the ashes as Aus and Eng.By saying that it remains the most popular series you are trying to force your opinion on to others,which may not be neccessarily correct.

  • Beef_ on January 8, 2011, 3:45 GMT

    Skylight28 - Well said.Couldnt agree more with you. It is about that BCCI is NOT blamed for anything and everything in this world. Yes, it has its own flaws like any other body but there is a limit

  • Mann123 on January 8, 2011, 3:41 GMT

    For those who can't understand the point about India sustaining world cricket economy..let me explain. If you look around world level or multi team tournaments, most of sponsors are from india or international companies who are targetting large auidence in india. The sponsors know the game is followed by most peope in india. Also teams all over want to play series against india as they earn larger sums from sponsorships from that series. e.g. Sri Lanka was nearly bankrupt and india helped them by having so many meaningless series in last year as they are in good terms.

  • Biggus on January 8, 2011, 2:54 GMT

    One wonders how the rest of the cricketing world coped until India came along and 'saved' us. The main result of our 'rescue' seems to be the imposition of hyper trashy commercialism upon us by our saviour.

  • indianpunter on January 8, 2011, 2:23 GMT

    @skylight28. Mate, we should get together sometime and talk cricket. i agree with a lot of what you have to say. UDRS is not perfect. But it is the best you have and the Ashes series is proof that howlers have been avoided. BCCI has to embrace technology. Their mindset is archaic ( similar to people opposing computers when it made its first entry ). To the other part of your rant, i agree that all super powers throw their weight around. But, with great power comes great responsibility and India and BCCI will be better off if we kept that axiom in mind.

  • SnowSnake on January 8, 2011, 0:13 GMT

    This article is totally off the subject. Self absorption is hallmark of superpower. USA does not give a damn to the world and neither should cricket India. If you are a superpower then everyone will be jealous of you. There is no need to impress anyone because in doing so, Indian cricket will lose its super power status. If anything, India should consolidate and dictate terms. If someone else wants to take cricket market away from India then let them build their own leagues. Socialism does not work! This article is preaching socialism.

  • FooledByRandomness on January 7, 2011, 23:06 GMT

    Thanks for posting the summary of 'The Communist Manifesto'. Oh wait, the Author is directly from Commieland

  • RickOShay on January 7, 2011, 22:29 GMT

    I mean they may be making a lot of money for themselves and their players may have undreamed of wealth from sponsorships and so on. But, sustaining the world cricket economy?? How??

    Think you just answered your own question buddy!

  • wittgenstein on January 7, 2011, 19:28 GMT

    Can the author, or someone else knowledgeable, please explain how and why India is thought to be 'the nation that sustains the cricket economy'. I mean they may be making a lot of money for themselves and their players may have undreamed of wealth from sponsorships and so on. But, sustaining the world cricket economy?? How??

  • notspot on January 7, 2011, 19:09 GMT

    Excelent article. There is nothing wrong in BCCI using its clout, specially when earlier Indian teams were victims of biased decisions. (Harbhajan's ban overturning in Australia is an example of how it benefited India). But now, it has to assume the role of a leader, both financially and morally. BCCI finds itself in this position because of the cricket crazy fans only, and while there are many many more of them in India...there are plenty of cricket lovers elsewhere too who want to see fair contests on good pitches. All they ask of the administrators is to take care of the peripheral issues so the game on the cricket field goes on the way it is suppposed to go on.

  • Alexk400 on January 7, 2011, 18:51 GMT

    BCCI has enough money to sponsor UDRS for all nations. UDRS is justice. Only cronies who don't like UDRS because they can get away with murder because of their reputation. Also i think UDRS should be left out of the players. I rather have appeal system using coaches than third umpire. Because coaches has access to cameras , they can appeal for stuff they can get favorable results that were blatant mistakes. Snicko sound or plum lbw , clear catch..etc. if UDRS out of players then it is simplified.

  • cricPassion2009 on January 7, 2011, 18:49 GMT

    @ syedahmed91 : dear Syed. Common man in India loves Pak players. Even if all else fails in subcontinent, cricket wins any time. Regarding support; BCCI is a corrupt regime, but cleanup seems to have begun. Media has subjected both IPL and BCCI to scrutiny. Hope one fine day the subcontinent will once again rejoice at playing good cricket like in past.

  • Skylight28 on January 7, 2011, 18:06 GMT

    Part 3: (e) You call India a "Self-absorbed leader" and a "boardroom bully, guided mostly by self-interest". Come on Sambit, show me the precedence (be it in sports or politics) where the undisputed leader (which BCCI is, at the moment) acts NOT in self-interest. In the interest of presenting facts, look up "american vetos in UN" on Google or read the "United Nations Security Council veto power" article on Wikipedia to get a sense of how today's political and economic superpower (USA) uses its power. We do not live in an ideal world, get used to it! (f) "BCCI can't even be bothered to care about the welfare of cricket in India" - Funny! Last I checked, India is #1 in tests and #2 in ODIs. How did it get there without BCCI caring about welfare of Indian cricket? (g) Your points on obsession with money: Who isn't obsessed with money? Whats wrong with the obsession as long as you don't do wrong to get the money? Don't all of us strive hard in our jobs to make the most money we can?

  • Skylight28 on January 7, 2011, 18:06 GMT

    Part 2: (b) BCCI doesn't "take interest in global governance of the game": Indians have led ICC in recent past. So what are you referring to? If its helping associate countries or full members, then you should cite a few examples to educate the readers about the opportunities that other boards have taken that BCCI has not. Merely stating that they don't take interest makes the casual reader take your 'opinion' as 'fact', which it may or may not be. (c) Pataudi's point on 'Moral leadership'. Thank you, Mr. Pataudi, for sharing your opinion immediately after you refused to be part of the IPL governing council after the BCCI made memberships honorary as opposed to paid roles. (d) You throw around a lot of 'opinion', without once explaining why you hold those opinions (e.g., "grudging submission to the game's sole economic superpower", "Underneath deceptively calm waters simmers discontent & distrust"). At least point us to other Cricinfo articles that substantiate the opinion with facts.

  • Skylight28 on January 7, 2011, 18:05 GMT

    My comment is in 3 parts, this is Part 1: Sambit, I agree with your view on Pak and your points on why UDRS is still flawed. I am bewildered, though, that on one hand you state all the reasons why it is flawed and on the other, you ridicule the BCCI for not using the flawed system. Here is a list of all that I find wrong about your article: (a) You say BCCI enjoys 'little goodwill'. With whom? Every country is bending over to play against India. Sure, its the commercial benefits of an India series that invites such interest, but if the India is indeed providing such benefits, then what exactly is this lack of goodwill? If its cricket fans you refer to, then fans react to what they read in the media (because for most of us, that's the only source of information), and its now become fashionable to berate the BCCI (see this very article as case in point!)

  • Smithie on January 7, 2011, 17:46 GMT

    Will India succumb to the ECB and use UDRS for its summer tour of England? Time for Giles Clarke to do cricket a favour and call the BCCI's bluff. If they will not accept UDRS call off the tour! Under ICC UDRS ruling the homeside has the call.

  • Bamarolls on January 7, 2011, 17:32 GMT

    I get the gist of the points raised, yet some of the issues do not resonate with the title of the article. Is the article about ICC or is it about BCCI? I think separating the two would be great idea - why? If Sambit is irked with BCCI then Pakistan's problem does not belong in the article. If ICC is irking Sambit, then BCCI alone should not be the target, it takes at least two to tango. If both are problem, the the title of the article should reflect the content.

    All the same, I agree with Sambit, "Keep the UDRS basic, enforce it uniformly." Also add... minimum 3 test series, ashes have shown that 5 test series can still deliver the classic drama.

  • Ajay42 on January 7, 2011, 17:25 GMT

    Excellent piece.I hate the fact that we (Read the BCCI) are behaving like sullen bullies. We dont even seem to care about our own side, as we regularly schedule overseas tours without a single practice game and get thumped in the first test.I hope the same thing doesnt happen to us in England and the West Indies.

  • AjaySridharan on January 7, 2011, 17:09 GMT

    Enough has been said and written about the bullying nature of the BCCI. It is blatant for everyone to see. I would expect someone like Sambit and the ones who are in a seeming position of influence, to come out with solutions. What are your recommendations Sambit for curtailing the self-absorbing greed of BCCI? Does your article jolt anyone in the BCCI boardroom into conscientious action? Maybe we should have Wikileaks on BCCI!

  • syedahmed91 on January 7, 2011, 17:08 GMT

    Unfortunately for Pakistan, India is also the arch rival and we can never get any support from them. Pakistan cricket board has destroyed cricket in pakistan, whereas india made a billion dollar industry out of it. Mr. Butt should be held accountable for taking away one thing most Pakistani's looked for, one thing that united everyone and provided joy to millions, now even that is on the news everyday for all the bad reasons. Sri Lanka was in civil war for 30 years, they also had insurgents targetting civilians, but never once have I seen Sri lanka playing home series at a neutral venue due to domestic violence. Pakistan won't host a home series in Pakistan for another 5 years soley due to this Admistrations incompetance and failure to make the right adjustments to satisfy other nations. What a shame.

  • NoPitchIsDead on January 7, 2011, 16:41 GMT

    If anyone is familar with Indian Hickey then they will remember AstroTurf and what it has unfairly done to Indian hockey.That time no one complained because it is 'developing country' that was cheated. When that developing country with its sheer hardwork and economy is asserting itself then all this hulla bulla started. Who is stoppping other country to STOP India.Go ahead and be my guest.

  • Gollo81 on January 7, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    The UDRS system will continue to be used and enjoyed with games not involving India, who will be left behind in their backward state. Pathetic really.

  • intcamd on January 7, 2011, 15:49 GMT

    Sambit starts well but finishes poorly. There are a million things wrong with the BCCI but of all those, he picks on UDRS? Even some well respected players like Tnedulkar are not fully supportive of it. UDRS is still not 100% proven.

    This is the biggest problem with the BCCI?

    Let us start with the corruption. Let us start with the fact that BCCI effectively owns brand India Team in all 3 formats. That is the source of its revenues. HOw did the Indian Team, which should belong to all Indians, come to be owned by a (ostentatiously public but acts like private) entity like BCCI?

    It does not disclose its finances. No one knows where all the money is going, into whose pockets.

    The Indian players all understand this but are too scared to speak out. So, they are happy to pick up their little cruds off the floor (well, mighty big cruds for every one else).

    Always start with they money. Then you will get to the root of the problem.

  • Elmu on January 7, 2011, 15:46 GMT

    I agree with Pataudi 100% that Indian board should use it's power to help the game and help other nations rather than just bullying others. If India fails to add international interest and help expand in other markets, then they eventually will lose. I agree with Mr. Bal too for most of the points made. All nation must adopt one system for Reviews and should be enforced by the ICC for all formats of the game, limiting it's use for couple of reviews.Strat somewhere and go from there.

  • on January 7, 2011, 13:38 GMT

    UDRS should be used in every Test match and the ICC should enforce this so it's mandatory, the ICC should also fund this, not broadcasters. I hope Pakistan host international fixtures very soon, such a great cricketing nation needs to be welcomed back into the fold. I am disappointed the SA v IND series consisted of only 3 tests, should have been 5. While the BCCI may be rich and powerful, The Ashes remains the most important and popular test match series between 2 nations. The BCCI cannot buy such prestige. John Howard would have made a grate ICC president, however, in the current climate, it was no surprise this did not happen. T20 is here to stay, the market place of international sport, T20 is vitally important and if one does not understand this, one does not understand cricket and the marketing of the sport. I will always enjoy test matches over T20 or ODI, but, it's important to attract new spectators.

  • Philip_Gnana on January 7, 2011, 13:29 GMT

    It was once said that the Media runs the IPL, the IPL runs the BCCI and the BCCI runs the ICC......Money corrupts absolute money corrupts absolutely...No chance in hell of cricket surviving.

  • Philip_Gnana on January 7, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    Nice report this. I have my own thoughts on the UDRS and they seem to agree with Mark Taylor's thoughts too. I disagree with you on the UDRS as not equipped wiith the right technology or instruments. We need to take the good and use it to the maximum. Just because some decision cannot be challenged succesfully does not mean that the decisions that can be challenged (using the present system) should be abandoned. There is more justice done with the UDRS. Of course the choice of the number of calls does not seem adequate. Improper use of the number of calls does not mean that the system is wrong. It is just that it not being used effectively by the captains and batsmen. This is an personal issue and that lies with the players. Do not blame the sytem. Recent ashes series brought out the best. Onfield umpires are educated enough and should have the humility to refer decisions that they have doubts with. Cricket will be the winner. Otherwise it will not be CRICKET. Philip Gnana, Surrey

  • Mob_King on January 7, 2011, 12:40 GMT

    "The biggest challenge for the game in the coming years will be to ... ensure the good health of cricket in places like West Indies and New Zealand. "

    Yes, and the media need to come to the party too. cricinfo needs more in-depth coverage by, for and about West Indian, Zimbabwean and Kiwi cricket in order to promote the game and support fan following.

  • on January 7, 2011, 12:31 GMT

    Sadly, the author contradicts himself too often. BCCI is accused of bullying when refusing to accepts UDRS - yet the article shows multiple flaws in the technologies used to support the UDRS. And Pataudi being sarcastic about the BCCI is rich - he was willing to be on the payrolls of the "invoice" and therefore was silent all this while. BCCI might well be an inept body in many areas, but so far as I can recall, it has been so for a long time now - and yet the Indian cricket team has made progress. So maybe all is not as bad as it is made out to be? And what exactly was wrong with adding test matches to the Australian tour to India?

  • lloydy_loinchop on January 7, 2011, 10:27 GMT

    I don't agree at all with these comments on the UDRS. I reckon that keeping the players' ability to challenge is very good because it not only keep the game fast-flowing (only 3 unsuccessful reviews permitted), but it also shows how accurate the umpires usually are. The players in the past who used to shake their heads whining at the umpire are now usually shown up by the umpires and the technology. It would be ideal for the technology to be available in all cricketing countries, but it just doesn't seem that much of an issue. If the UDRS is in place - great! If it's not - there is still a level playing for the two sides contesting any given Test match. Any problems/controversies they do have lies with the third umpire's silly and bureaucratic interpretations. It seems they do not understand the concept of complete conclusive evidence. The inconsistent HotSpot decisions involving Hussey in Brisbane and Bell in Sydney show this. To disprove the dismissal, you need to see daylight.

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on January 7, 2011, 10:16 GMT

    So the BCCI must govern the ICC who must change the PCB, but everyone knows the BCCI is corrupt, the ICC ineffectual and the PCB incompetent. So blind leading the blind I assume. Where exactly is "change" going to come from?

  • SandeepJ on January 7, 2011, 9:51 GMT

    Sambit, I commend you on this brave article. To quote a phrase from Spiderman "With great power comes great responsibility" - a concept completely lost on the BCCI. Dodgy people like Lalit Modi have further dented the BCCI's credibility. The board still suffers fromn a colonial hangover. It's time that they realised the world has moved on and stop behaving like spolt brats

  • mogan707 on January 7, 2011, 9:23 GMT

    The author of this article has treated BCCI as a corrupt high profile body.Agreed.But by your own proofs the UDRS is debatable and is not even75% ready.Snicko not working properly for not only the Aussies but also for English men and SA(examples KP nicked one but Hot spot didnot find any).It is making the players furious than without it.But the authors point that it should not be left to players now would seem that after playing this many games challenging the decision would the teams which has benefitted from UDRS modify the rule?And about WADA rules,the BCCI is saying what is the players stance,and the author exaggerated it by saying that they are pulling it the other way.Hence a slight modification of the rule necessary.As far as Pakistan is concerned,the whole administration and the government are in disarray,it is for the former "untainted" players and officials to find a way to resurrect the game in Pakistan.

  • on January 7, 2011, 9:11 GMT

    Brilliant article by Sambit. I fully agree @ the UDRS' fallacy, the recent 1 being the Ian Bell episode where the Hot Spots and Snicko had contrasting results. I feel it is better to leave marginal decisions to the Line umpires and blatant ones go to 3rd umpire, but again at the Umpire's discretion.

  • venkatesh018 on January 7, 2011, 8:45 GMT

    Cannot agree with u on the UDRS. Keeping in mind the overall health of test cricket and the type of pitches they are generally played on(The pitches in the recent IND VS SAF series have been a happy exception), it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to arm the bowlers with the Decision review system. So what if some batsman use it even when they know they are out, just because their team has some challenges left. It is a proven fact that the UDRS has substantially reduced umpiring controversies and we should stick with it and apply it uniformly in all series.

  • moBlue on January 7, 2011, 8:42 GMT

    a "projection" system - like hawk-eye or virtual eye - depends on calibration by the operator before every game, and is therefore subject to mis-use. it is not objective, and should not substitute for an umpire's judgment. [the umpires can improve their judgment over a period of time using such technology, of course.] i agree with the author - line calls [no balls, run-outs and stumpings, lbw (where pitched and point of contact, whether inside edge on to pad, whether pad first) calls], snickometers and hot-spots, and whether a catch is cleanly taken, should be reviewed and decided with the use of technology (via action replays), but that should be it! no "projections" made by technology to predict what might have happened should be used as a basis for review and decisions! a trained umpire's judgment should suffice there.

  • on January 7, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    No leader in the world was without their shortcomings. Leaders are also not always admired. Indians have a peculiar way of leading. Lets get used to it. I think the cricket team and the players have shown remarkable maturity in accepting the ways of our cricket board. Now let the media also show that they can adapt. For things will not change as far as running of the BCCI is concerned.

  • on January 7, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    I guess this article perfectly depicts and unearths the unseen virtues of modern cricket. I hope without being skeptical people would conceive the idea behind this writeup.

  • thisiskiran on January 7, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    I usually don't comment on articles but this is exception. Perfectly written article. All arrows are hitting bulls eye.

    Yes Indian BCCI has got more politicians than people who played the game.

    After seeing so many antics of BCCI I can conclude that Indian BCCI is not worthy leader. Being Indian sometimes I have to swallow my pride when it comes to BCCI. But I am die hard fan of Indian team.

    With regard to Pakistan hmmmm.....Shhhh... No comments.

  • dsig3 on January 7, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    The future for this game is not too bright Sambit. While the torch has been past to the subcontinent its yet to be seen whether it will simply snuff out.

  • gzawilliam on January 7, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    I still cannot for the life of me understand how india isn't forced to use the DRS. Its used everywhere else but not during india's games. Like what is the ICC doing? I for one will not count India the Number 1 ranked team until they are under the same rules as the rest of the world.

    And in reality i think they are number 1. But you cant have one rule for some and not for yourself because you disagree with it.

    If society worked that way with law and order we would be still in the dark ages.

  • Dhoni_fan_from_a_dada_era on January 7, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    well said Sambit. the moral low grounds of BCCI & the ineptitude of Pakistan can not be parallelled. There needs to eb reforms everywhere.

  • on January 7, 2011, 6:34 GMT

    Top class article. No more to be said.

  • on January 7, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    I think the bcci just does not want to spend money on the UDRS. I just dont buy their statement that they do not trust the technology; seems absurd

  • on January 7, 2011, 6:12 GMT

    Very well point made about the UDRS. Use the technology only to review things that actually happened. Use it to judge where ball pitched, where the point of impact was, whether there was an edge on to the ball. All these things are deterministic in the sense that they actually happened. Relay this information to the on-field umpires and then let them make a decision. Projection ought to be left to the men in middle and not to the computers. Objective of UDRS should be to make a better informed decision rather than making a decision for the umpires.

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 7, 2011, 5:26 GMT

    India is undoubtedly the most powerful cricket nation on earth. However, with power comes responsibility and selfless leadership duties. Unfortunately the BCCI has been anything but transparent and esteemed. Nobody cares how much you have in your coffers but what people do care about is how you spread your influence to address some of the most disturbing problems affecting world cricket. The saddest element has been Pakistani cricket and the spot fixing controversy. I sincerely hope the ICC does something to restore Pakistani cricket to its former glory. Secondly, the future tours program has to be reasonable and meaningful. The BCCI has to take a decisive stand on UDRS. They cannot hide behind the notion of one poor experience against Sri Lanka. The BCCI has to influence the ICC to standardize UDRS around the world. Last but not least, the IPL deserves a separate window because it's a showcase event. It's not like other domestic events and I disagree if anyone thinks otherwise.

  • avkrish on January 7, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    I would like to make a few points.

    1. UDRS, infrared cameras, snicko should be made compulsory for ALL INTERNATIONAL matches, wherever they take place. The broadcasters who cannot afford them (which I believe is a lousy excuse) should not be given the rights. 2. The present number of reviews per innings seem ok to me, it is up to the team members to decide whether to play as a team or as 11 individuals. 3. In the modern professional world, mistakes should be penalised, whether they are made by the umpires or players. There have been more than a few instances where matches have been ruined due to the reluctance of umpires to use the replays.

  • on January 7, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    Simply brilliant. It is too much too ask for leadership from BCCI! . Their motto is simple 'Show me the money'.

  • EdwardTLogan on January 7, 2011, 4:20 GMT

    The statement 'The biggest challenge for the game in the coming years will be to find the right balance for its three forms' is blatantly wrong. There are only two forms of cricket - Test matches and ODIs. T20 is just a bastardised version of baseball created for the youth of today who have the attention span of a gnat and the intelligence of a house brick. The sooner we go back to bilateral series with five Test matches and three ODIs, the better place the cricketing world will be. All that will remain then is for helmets and sausage finger batting gloves to be replaced with terry towelling hats and batting gloves with green rubber spikes and we'll all be happy. Not to mention re-implementing the rule whereby each patron can bring 24 cans per day to the cricket in Australia......

  • on January 7, 2011, 3:42 GMT

    Well said mate on most of the points... Some points I might disagree but very well said overall.... Good on ya

  • on January 7, 2011, 3:22 GMT

    While I'm not a big fan of the way the BCCI is managed, I don't think UDRS should be implemented. Simple reason: If a batsman is given out and evidence is inconclusive to prove it wrong, the umpire decision stays. This is the BIGGEST FLAW in the system. The benefit of doubt should always go to the batsman. While everyone is raving about how good the UDRS system is, I am surprised how all Cricinfo authors have missed this crucial and fundamental point.

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  • on January 7, 2011, 3:22 GMT

    While I'm not a big fan of the way the BCCI is managed, I don't think UDRS should be implemented. Simple reason: If a batsman is given out and evidence is inconclusive to prove it wrong, the umpire decision stays. This is the BIGGEST FLAW in the system. The benefit of doubt should always go to the batsman. While everyone is raving about how good the UDRS system is, I am surprised how all Cricinfo authors have missed this crucial and fundamental point.

  • on January 7, 2011, 3:42 GMT

    Well said mate on most of the points... Some points I might disagree but very well said overall.... Good on ya

  • EdwardTLogan on January 7, 2011, 4:20 GMT

    The statement 'The biggest challenge for the game in the coming years will be to find the right balance for its three forms' is blatantly wrong. There are only two forms of cricket - Test matches and ODIs. T20 is just a bastardised version of baseball created for the youth of today who have the attention span of a gnat and the intelligence of a house brick. The sooner we go back to bilateral series with five Test matches and three ODIs, the better place the cricketing world will be. All that will remain then is for helmets and sausage finger batting gloves to be replaced with terry towelling hats and batting gloves with green rubber spikes and we'll all be happy. Not to mention re-implementing the rule whereby each patron can bring 24 cans per day to the cricket in Australia......

  • on January 7, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    Simply brilliant. It is too much too ask for leadership from BCCI! . Their motto is simple 'Show me the money'.

  • avkrish on January 7, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    I would like to make a few points.

    1. UDRS, infrared cameras, snicko should be made compulsory for ALL INTERNATIONAL matches, wherever they take place. The broadcasters who cannot afford them (which I believe is a lousy excuse) should not be given the rights. 2. The present number of reviews per innings seem ok to me, it is up to the team members to decide whether to play as a team or as 11 individuals. 3. In the modern professional world, mistakes should be penalised, whether they are made by the umpires or players. There have been more than a few instances where matches have been ruined due to the reluctance of umpires to use the replays.

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 7, 2011, 5:26 GMT

    India is undoubtedly the most powerful cricket nation on earth. However, with power comes responsibility and selfless leadership duties. Unfortunately the BCCI has been anything but transparent and esteemed. Nobody cares how much you have in your coffers but what people do care about is how you spread your influence to address some of the most disturbing problems affecting world cricket. The saddest element has been Pakistani cricket and the spot fixing controversy. I sincerely hope the ICC does something to restore Pakistani cricket to its former glory. Secondly, the future tours program has to be reasonable and meaningful. The BCCI has to take a decisive stand on UDRS. They cannot hide behind the notion of one poor experience against Sri Lanka. The BCCI has to influence the ICC to standardize UDRS around the world. Last but not least, the IPL deserves a separate window because it's a showcase event. It's not like other domestic events and I disagree if anyone thinks otherwise.

  • on January 7, 2011, 6:12 GMT

    Very well point made about the UDRS. Use the technology only to review things that actually happened. Use it to judge where ball pitched, where the point of impact was, whether there was an edge on to the ball. All these things are deterministic in the sense that they actually happened. Relay this information to the on-field umpires and then let them make a decision. Projection ought to be left to the men in middle and not to the computers. Objective of UDRS should be to make a better informed decision rather than making a decision for the umpires.

  • on January 7, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    I think the bcci just does not want to spend money on the UDRS. I just dont buy their statement that they do not trust the technology; seems absurd

  • on January 7, 2011, 6:34 GMT

    Top class article. No more to be said.

  • Dhoni_fan_from_a_dada_era on January 7, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    well said Sambit. the moral low grounds of BCCI & the ineptitude of Pakistan can not be parallelled. There needs to eb reforms everywhere.