Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Constant is the only change

(Also in Bengali daily Ek Din)
A few days back, we got the confirmation from Pakistan Cricket Board chief Ejaz Butt that the Pakistan cricket team has no room or patience for Shoaib Akhtar anymore. Then, courtesy a mauling from the Indian batsmen in Kanpur, Muttiah Muralitharan announced that he might quit sooner rather than later.

That’s two of the many people who should never have been cricketers. Because they are chuckers. Not bowlers. Or, as Bishan Singh Bedi calls them, javelin throwers or shot-putters. Their wickets are nothing but run-outs. I agree.

Which is why Akhtar’s fall from grace and Murali’s gradual decaying are good things. It’s good news. It’s a reason to celebrate.
But there are a lot of unfortunate areas in this. Firstly, the fact that – forget Akhtar – Murali already has more ‘wickets’ than anyone in cricket history; almost 800 in Tests and over 500 in one-dayers. That’s unfortunate, because that means around 1300 batsmen have been dismissed illegally by Murali over the years in international cricket alone.

But what’s even more unfortunate is that the gradual decline of Akhtar and Murali, and hopefully Harbhajan Singh in the near future, does not really signal the end of this illegality in cricket. Cricket remains a sport that is ruled not by its official governing body, but by its unofficial governing body; not by the ICC, but by the BCCI. The BCCI will not change its colours. And the ICC will never be able to grow its fangs. What that means is that whatever the BCCI wants will continue to be a part of international cricket.

If that means allowing blatant cheats to continue bowling and picking wickets – so be it.

If that means allowing the IPL authorities to announce sanctions on cricketers from the rest of the world – so be it.

If it means altering the cricket calendar to suit the needs of the premier Indian cricketers – so be it.

Do I have solid evidence of any of these things? Not in my hands, no. Do I know or believe all of this is true? Yes, I do. We all do. None of this is new. It’s all been going on for over a decade now.
Will it stop? Will things change? Unlikely. Cricket fans in India will continue to back their favourite sport till kingdom come; the greater common good be damned. And that means the BCCI will continue to carry out their business the way they do. And why not? Seeing that they are being allowed to. And will continue to be allowed to.