BCCI : India’s cricketing obvious

Yusuf Pathan was grinning wide as he was being interviewed after his decimation of the Deccan Chargers in an earlier match. Prodding him for a few sound-bytes was one of those bollywood rejects if you want to be harsh or aspirants if you are benevolent.

As I was watching the interview, I was dumbstruck at the sheer inability of Yusuf to have a decent conversation. If the tapes are played back, you would see that Yusuf Pathan began every response, I mean e-v-e-r-y response with the word “obviously”. I was shuddering what would happen if Yusuf was indeed asked an ‘obvious question’.

My sympathies are with Yusuf and certainly I don’t intend to pick on his apparent lack of skill in handling media but it caused me to reflect on what the BCCI is doing with it’s product cricket and the raw material, the cricketers.

A prudent business man will take utmost care of his marketable product and would do everything to improve it’s quality. While marketing would be a keen component of strategy, it will be utterly foolish to hedge the risk of poor product quality with more marketing.

I am afraid the BCCI is precisely doing this with cricket in India.

BCCI’s power in the cricketing world is well known.  When a parallel league, Indian Cricket League, was conceived, it quickly swung into action and systematically decimated the parallel league.

From impressing upon the cricketing boards of  all nations to “ban” players  who signed up for ICL to prevailing upon the ICC preventing recognition to the rebel league, the decimation was carefully planned and executed.

BCCI was also smart to learn from the ICL on the potential of the city based league and they indeed came up with their niche, global product, The Indian Premier League.

Through this, the BCCI has amply demonstrated it’s ability and finesse in defending the turf from predators and better still using their idea to create a winnable product.

The alacrity of the response  and detailing of the product clearly reflects that where the BCCI decides to roll-up-it’s-sleeves, it can most certainly deliver the goods.

India is at the totem-pole of the market for cricket.  The ICC is firmly, if not overtly admitted, in the pockets of BCCI.  The BCCI today is a heady mix of power and money and so it should naturally follow that it augurs well for the game, it’s players and followers, right ?

Wrong !

With all the power and money at it’s disposal, the BCCI is just focused on one thing – To make more money out of money ! So instead of focusing on it’s core product and inventory, the BCCI has decided to add more muscle to it’s marketing arm and is now threatening to acquire ‘industry status’ for cricket in India.

I have digressed and so coming back to Yusuf, I wonder what has the BCCI done to improve it’s players. Okay it created a niche product and a market where the cricketers could come and “sell themselves” but is that all to being a cricket player ?

What has the BCCI done to improve the players not just from the point of skill but as individuals ? After their playing days, what can today’s cricketers aspire to do in their life ?

Admittedly that’s a long time away for the likes of Yusuf, Irfan, Suresh Raina, Virak Kohli and Praveen Kumars, but shouldn’t the BCCI do something about evolving them as better personalities ?

It is a matter of considerable shame, atleast I think so, that the young brigade of the Indian cricket is hardly communicable. Not just from the batting aesthetics, I shudder to think when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman would hang their cricketing boots.

Along with Ganguly and Kumble, Laxman and Dravid were amongst the well read, communicative Indian cricketers who could hold their fort in any discussion. Comparing this with the effort of Yusuf Pathan, I wonder whether Indian cricket would forever lose it’s ability to be communicative.

Even Harbhajan, Yuvraj and Sehwag who have now played for close to a decade can hardly have a decent conversation.  It is not as if they  need to be skilled to be able to talk to a John Arlott or Sir Neville Cardus but as ambassadors of the nation, surely is it too much to expect them to be slightly more articulate ?

Certainly it is not the fault of these cricketers. They come, as they come from different backgrounds and may not have had opportunities for a decent education. After all it is not very often that Engineers like Kumble, Srinath and Prasanna become cricketers. It must be the responsibility of the BCCI to provide them the skill sets to handle media, communication to improve their general personality. I don’t expect them to reel off poetry but surely can expect them to come up with some thing more intelligible than “obviously” ? Obvious eh ?

Even on the cricketing skills I find the attitude of BCCI most appalling. Though they have created the NCA,  they are not exactly the breeding grounds of talent.  But how would they be, if the talent scouts of the BCCI are those whose talent is very much in question. Hirwani, Yashpal Sharma, Kiran more, eh ?

BCCI has absolutely no qualms about the way it treats the spectators, the consumers of it’s product. Go around any stadium of this country, the facilities and the general ambience is so pathetic.  A few days back, I was travelling around the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore and I felt so miserable. The stadium is a virtual eye sore in the heart of the city with it’s unkempt surrounding, fading walls, creaking grill and the litter.

A global product with a substandard medium sums up the cricket promoted by the BCCI.  To make matters worse, in the recent past we had the ignominy of having to abandon a match at Delhi due to poor pitch quality.

The best board in business producing the poorest of pitches ? Something certainly has to be wrong with the priorities of the board.

The indifference of the BCCI stems from the fact that it is cocksure about the huge following for cricket in India. Stadium or No stadium, substandard pitch or no pitch, poor outfield or no outfield, the BCCI thinks that it can get away by luring players with money and selling the product to the marketers for even more money.

IPL 4 will be even more bigger ; 10 teams and 94 matches.  It will be another opportunity for the stars – present and past – to enter into more lucrative contracts with the franchisees and be even more richer. BCCI will use the “rat race” to make more money from the auctions and sell the Television rights for even a bigger sum to laugh all the way to Bank.

Come summer Apr 2011, the IPL will be at Kochi which would be probably reeling under a temperature of 45 degrees plus. The players wouldn’t mind, what if they get dehydrated, they have the money. The paying public may have to sit in blazing evening sun but what the heck, it is the cricket that matters, right ?

The BCCI of day is just the Board for Commercialization of Cricket in India. Anyone who still believes that BCCI has the best interest of Indian cricket governing it’s principles is indeed making a huge mistake.

It is, as Yusuf Pathan would say, obvious.

About hariharanbond
I am who I am !

2 Responses to BCCI : India’s cricketing obvious

  1. Ganesh Kini says:

    Hari,

    I agree BCCI has become a big business organization rather than a Sports Nurturing organization it’s supposed to be.

    You may also note that cricketers are also getting paid well. They will be left with enough money to take care of themseves if they have spent reasonably good time in the national / IPL team, when they hang their boots. If they do not know how to speak or not groomed well to manage themselves, I think its for players themself to blame. Probabaly it would be best to have a player’s association like in other countries, where players are councelled on various such matters including investment issues.

    For me, more worrying factor from BCCI is lack of interest in the nurturing and growth of CRICKET itself. BCCI has hardly done anything for improvement of quality cricket or to that matter developing quality cricketers.

    The domestic format of Cricket has not been revamped over years. BCCI must take some cue from Australia, where the players are identified rightly and groomed so well. Without a clear selection & grooming policy, any team can not be on top spot for a decade, no mattter who is in the final eleven. From Border, Taylor, Waugh, Ponting and probably Clarke every player & captains were chosen rightly.

    Look at our Ranaji. Its a fact that the National selectors will never go to a Ranji match which is happening outside the city in which they are reciding!! It should be made compulsory for all national selectors to watch these matches together and heavy penalties to be imposed if anyone misses this. What other job these SELCTORS have?

    With the money BCCI is having, they can setup a cricket ground in every district of India. Every Government school can be provided with a couple of quality cricket Kit, atleast. Every state can be provided with a high quality coach ( may be ex greats at national / international level). None of these are done.

    Fitness, one of the major concern for our cricketers. How many sport oriented fitness centers are available in the country? How many states can boast of a quality Physio? answer will point towards zero, or slightly above.

    What BCCI is focusing on? Developing 2 more IPL teams.

    Even in the present cricket stadiums, How many recognised stadium today offer world class pitch? Hardly few. Firoz Shaw Kotla was a shame to a country which boasts of cricket wealth of this magnitude.

    Money Money Money is the only 3 point agenda on BCCI.

    Recently one of the players wrote “with so many things happening around the cricket ( Commercial shoots, Post match parties etc), players feel actually playing the high pressure cricket match , is less stressful..”

    Sad.

    • Insightful comments, Thanks GK. India’s national tournament named after a cricketing genius who “invented” a stroke (leg glance) is in shambles.

      BCCI has become a mafia which is after money.

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