Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Why the famous five can make a difference to Indian cricket

Arijeet Dutta | June 26, 2016 11:48 am Print
With Sachin, Sourav, VVS on advisory role and Kumble coach of senior and Dravid of junior sides, the return of the famous five of Indian cricket is now fully complete. It does augur well for the future.
India - cricket

The appointment of former India skipper Anil Kumble as the head coach of the Indian cricket team heralds a new era in Indian cricket . It after all marks the return of the fab five of Indian cricket – Sachin Tendulkar , Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble . It is a return of sorts. Why? Kumble got the nod for the top job after being interviewed by the high powered empowered committee appointed by the BCCI called the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC). That had on its panel the big three of Indian cricket – Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman.

It was perhaps the first time BCCI empowered the greats of the game to pick the coach of the Indian team. The trio did their job to pick their former team-mate and skipper and the choice is an apt one. While their other team- mate and former skipper and batting legend Rahul Dravid is currently coaching the India under–19 team. For the youngsters there cannot ever be a better role model than the “ The Wall”. With Sachin, Sourav, VVS on advisory role and Kumble coach of senior and Dravid of junior sides, the return of the famous five of Indian cricket is now fully complete. It does augur well for the future.

The richest cricket Board would be better off if legends like these play a more active role in the years ahead and their voices are taken seriously. One of the premier reasons why Australia keeps on producing talents all along is that former skippers play a key role and their voices are never ignored . The Likes of former skipper Steve Waugh, Allan Border, Greg Chappell, Ian Chappell, Rod Marsh, Dennis Lillee, Ponting, Mark Waugh ( Selector) have a major say as to direct the way forward.

India too needs to follow on the Aussie lines. The BCCI is probably the only Board where politicians coming from all parties like a national government managed to bag important posts and have no desire to move away. To cite a few examples Rajeev Shukla, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Farooq Abdullah and the current Board president Anurag Thakur. And it is widely known that the current BCCI dispensation is controlled by the two most powerful politicians – Maratha Stalwart , former BCCI , ICC and current MCA president Sharad Pawar and the most powerful minister in the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government – the Union Finance and Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley. If BCCI president Anurag Thakur is Arun Jaitley’s protégé then the Board secretary Ajay Shirke is close to the Maratha strongman Pawar. The presence of such galaxy of leaders and their influence on the Board makes one wonder whether it is a cricket Body or a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) that is in place.

It is indeed ironical that these very politicians spar in parliament and do not work and hinder passing of important legislations, but when it comes to cricket and where there is a big money involved on the table they unite and the slogan is simply Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mantra  sab ka saath sab ka vikas . Look how mum and reluctant they are when it comes to implementing the Lodha panel recommendations that calls for sweeping reforms in the BCCI.

Also Read : Did IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla siphon match fixing money to his BAG Films?

IPL has been mired with controversies all along its nine years. Why not make a Sourav Ganguly or a Sachin Tendulkar the IPL chairman? That would give the league the much required credibility. If its founding chairman the flamboyant Lalit Modi could be ousted due to financial irregularities in 2010 then how on earth can Rajeev Shukla continue to remain IPL chairman when the 2013 IPL spot- fixing and the Gurunath Meiyyapan–N Srinivasan scandal came to the fore? Was he not aware of these happenings right under his nose ? Or did he go by his blind faith in Meiyyappan that he was just a cricket enthusiast. Shukla was also very much part of the BCCI when Lalit Modi ran the IPL. But never had the guts to point out Lalit Modi’s follies then. Narada News also has documents exposing how he siphoned off money from IPL to his BAG Films.

IPL is big brand and envy of the cricket world today because of  Lalit Modi. He made it a super success. It is a reality one has to accept. Moreover, whenever we touch topic of economic reforms  for debate, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s role in ushering them as finance minister is widely recognised and applauded. Quite similarly, IPL and Lalit Modi cannot be separated. Both Dr Singh and Modi had their share of critics  but in the end one can say you can hate them , love them  but cannot in any way ignore them.

My question is if Lalit Modi made a mistake and was removed as IPL chairman then why is Rajeev Shukla despite the Meiyyappan expose is the IPL chairman? Why there is one rule for Lalit Modi and another rule for Rajeev Shukla? That means the scandal under Modi is large and damaging while under Shukla it is nothing but a media exaggeration. Or is it because Rajeev Shukla has excellent rapport with the senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley and is not troubled as he is brother-in law of another senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad?

Coming to Anil Kumble’s selection, it is good and sensible move by the CAC. Kumble has immense respect and the team would benefit with his invaluable experience by his sheer attribute as one of India’s greatest match–winners, who in his heydays when it came to discipline and commitment was second to none.

Ravi Shastri’s clarion call for Virat Kohli to be skipper in all formats would have made things tough for the ODI and T20 skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had Shastri become head coach. After all how can MSD be expected to play and be on top of his game when the head coach is not happy with him at the helm and yet enjoy the game?

This will never happen and in India it is certainly not possible. For example did Sourav Ganguly really enjoy his cricket when he was asked to play under Rahul Dravid? No. Do not tell me he was at his devastating best under Dravid. Or for the matter kindly let me know how did he fare when he was asked to play under the Brendon McCullum for the KKR when IPL was shifted to South Africa in 2009? Why Sourav alone? Did Azhar play his best under Sachin Tendulkar? Did not Sachin when talking about his captaincy nightmares point out fingers at Azhar for underperforming? This is well known anecdote of Indian cricket.

Ravi Shastri has always, like Sunil Gavaskar, been the voices of BCCI. No matter who is at the helm of the BCCI the wily and canny duo would switch sides with ease to have their say. The Board presidents change – be it from late Jagmohan Dalmiya, Sharad Pawar, Shashank Manohar, N Srinivasan to Anurag Thakur – but Shastri and Gavaskar continue to remain constant. And behind the cool confines of the commentary box criticise players and even coaches whom they also select by being part of the panel with absolute disdain. And not to forget, both were Lalit Modi’s “yes men” when Modi ran the IPL and now singing praises in favour of Rajeev Shukla. It brings us to the question why only Gavaskar and Shastri?

Are there no other cricket legends whose voice could be counted or heard? Why not a place for India’s greatest all-rounder Kapil Dev, spin legend Bishen Singh Bedi, Kirti Azad, Anshuman Gaekwad in the affairs of the Board. Rather than banking on some of its own favourites, Board should rope in others too to truly make it transparent and efficient.

Moreover, those who have followed Indian cricket must know that Shastri in his heydays was nicknamed Champion of Champions no doubt , it was well deserved , as he was brilliant in the 1985 in the WCC in Australia. That is it . He was useful all-rounder but he was not certainly a legendary all-rounder by any stretch of imagination . World cricket at that time had three iconic all-rounders – India’s Haryana Hurricane Kapil Dev, The Lion of Lahore Imran Khan and Englishman Ian Botham.

Lastly, Indian cricket needs fresh ideas and legends to take cricket forward. The fab five have come to fore. The beginning is a good one . Now it should continue in the years ahead. Their ascent should now encourage others too to step forward in the larger interests of the game. Time has now come to free the Board of the politicians and end the rule by yes men lobby. Let the icons call the shots. After all can a Rajeev Shukla offer tips to Indian batsmen and give answers as to why they are not able to bat 90 overs in a test match abroad? The fab five can surely do that . Give it a thought guys!

Arijeet Dutta