The inexplicable ways of the BCCI
Sachin Tendulkar deserves better than to be seen as a player chasing a record in the comfort of his home environment. He needs to be seen as more than a mere statistical curiosity. Poetic justice might see him withdraw from one of the Tests against the West Indies with a common cold. What will the BCCI do then?
The BCCI's continued refusal to explain means that its latest bombshell - a home series against West Indies when everyone was looking forward to an away series in South Africa - will be interpreted in a manner embarrassing to itself, and to Sachin Tendulkar, among others. Riding roughshod over other cricket boards, the ICC and the interest of the game itself has been reduced to a crude art. If it has been done to appease television, then let the television channels take over the BCCI's job. At the very least, it shows poor planning. (Related blog - Winning isn't everything)
But look at the range of possible explanations that are already being tossed about:
1. It is a purely commerical decision so Sachin Tendulkar can play his 200th Test match at home and then retire. The money possibilities are huge in this for the BCCI, which puts a price on everything.
2. It is a happy solution to ensure that Indian batsmen do not have to face Dale Steyn, Mornie Morkel and Vernon Philander in South Africa.
3. The BCCI cannot afford the loss of face in another poor series abroad.
4. The BCCI is out to teach Cricket South Africa a lesson for voting for Haroon Lorgat as its CEO.
5. The BCCI, like ageing boxers, is happy to take on only those countries they are confident of beating.
6. It doesn't matter who India play, how series affect their cricket, so long as they don't lose. A loss will reduce the interest among the fans, and in the money bags who support the game.
7. With the BCCI in a mess over its internal affairs and IPL spot-fixing allegations, a successful cricket team is an important counter to inefficiency and lack of accountability. Should India lose, the focus will be back on the BCCI, and the august body cannot afford that.
8. The BCCI might be using the West Indies tour as a gigantic bluff to bring South Africa to heel.
9. A home series gives N Srinivasan some more leverage to appease those who need to be convinced to vote for him when he stands for the President's post for another term. More favours, more votes.
Some, all or none of the above may be true, but by functioning like a secret society with no access to information for those who care for the sport means that guesswork will be the order of the day. All the more reason for the cricket board to come under the RTI.
Tendulkar deserves better than to be seen as a player chasing a record in the comfort of his home environment. He is the greatest batsman India - perhaps the world of international cricket - has produced, and he needs to be seen as more than a mere statistical curiosity. Poetic justice might see him withdraw from one of the Tests against the West Indies with a common cold. What will the BCCI do then?
No one can afford to displease the BCCI - not South Africa, not the ICC, not even the saner elements within the BCCI who believe the national body is being hijacked by men with dollar signs in their eyes and egos as large as the Eden Gardens.
Srinivasan has been careful to say that the tour of South Africa has not been called off; but what price CSA will have to pay for it has been left unsaid. When did the West Indies come into the picture? The more he spoke about his honesty, wrote Emerson, the faster we counted our spoons. Similarly, the more the President speaks about not tiring the cricketers, the more aware we ought to be that there is more to all this than meets the eye.