Cricket baiters have often commented that the there is no official “Indian” cricket team. These critics, often former players and non-cricket commentators, have cheekily suggested that the Indian team, captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is actually a BCCI (Cricket Board’s) team.
Though one staunchly disagrees with this opinion and ascribes it to a possible case of sour grapes, the BCCI’s latest action of not deputing a team to the Beijing Asian Games later this year, makes one wonder if the anti-cricket brigade is actually right.
The reasons proffered for the refusal seems at times weak and mostly facetious. The official word from the BCCI that it has prior commitment doesn’t hold water as India’s participation in the Asian Games was known three years back. Though India is scheduled to play New Zealand in a test series, the dates aren’t yet finalized so actually BCCI can make adjustments.
The other reason given relates to the WADA “whereabouts” clause that requires players to inform their availability for dope tests three months in advance. Though the clause is obviously rigid, one can’t fathom why our cricketers cannot inform the Board of their whereabouts three months in advance? Even the Prime Minister of India sticks to his schedule!
However, more important than all these reason is the fact that it was India and Pakistan that pushed for inclusion of cricket in the Asian Games calendar. Now that it has been included, India backing out due to the BCCI’s rigidity makes it own position weak in the regional power balance. More so, as Pakistan and Sri Lanka have agreed to send teams to Beijing.
The other obvious question that spirings to mind is whether the BCCI has even bothered asking the team if they are keen to play in Beijing? Honestly, every athlete’s (and here one assumes that cricketers are actually athletes!) ultimate dream is to display their prowess on the Olympic field or in something equivalent.
Since, cricket is still not a part of the Olympics, what better platform than the Asian Games to display the excitement of the T-20 format of the game? When players of far bigger reputation like a Kobe Bryant or a Roger Federer treated glory at the Olympics as bigger than any of their achievements, we can rest assured that someone like a Sachin Tendulkar will no doubt seek to have that one Gold Medal (Asian Games) adorning the walls of his house.
Most of us read about the US Dream team (volleyball) landing in Beijing and playing for national pride. Then there was the instance of Federer losing in the singles but coming back and claiming a medal in the unchartered doubles territory at the Beijing Games. It shows how dearly atheletes treasure performances at the international stage.
As noted cricket commentator and writer Harsha Bhogle says,”Indian cricketers need to be sent to Asian Games and Olympics as it teaches humility to the players who share everything with their peers across other games. I recall the commentary by Steve Waugh (former Australia captain) about his experience at the Commonwealth Games and how it humbled him. It is time our cricketers learnt a bit of humility.”
Former India captain and India’s highest test wicket taker Anil Kumble too has been quoted in today’s media where he speaks of the participation in the Commonwealth Games. “There I watched (Pullela) Gopichand play badminton and also watched the Indian hockey team play, something I otherwise would never possibly look to do. “As an Indian player, I would definitely like to play in events like Asian Games or Olympics [ Images ] or Commonwealth Games,” Kumble said.
If the BCCI and the current crop of players are keen to make hay while the sun shines (they get paid Rs.5 lakh per test), maybe the Board should consider sending a team headed by Sachin Tendulkar and supported by players like Kumble, Dravid and some youngsters who will do well to imbibe the national spirit from the senior statesmen.[?]