Going unnoticed in all the World Cup-related hype is the fact that another powerful franchise, the Royal Challengers, has added its weight to Mumbai Indians on the question of the last minute changes in IPL auction rules.
“I look forward to clarification from the IPL or response to Mumbai Indians letter. I have further gone on records to say that I wish there would be an inclusive process, where the franchise, the principal stakeholders, would also be given a greater consultative role in the entire IPL administration process.”
That is Vijay Mallya, expressing the hope that the IPL will in fact respond in some detail to the MI missive. To know how futile that hope is, read the letter in full — paying particular attention to the items a-j sought for per #6 in this note:
Hilarious, that wish-list. How in heck can there be agenda details, minutes etc for decisions that were made arbitrarily, with no reference to the governing council besides its usual post facto rubber-stamping duties?
While on that, said GC never seems to learn. When the Modi imbroglio hit the headlines and questions were asked about why the GC had not been more active in forestalling corruption, the response trotted out by worthies like Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri was that their brief was related to cricket and related matters alone; finances were not their concern. So here you go — an issue directly relating to the cricket, and the GC as always remains invisible. (Ironically Pataudi, who for a brief while won kudos for “introspecting” and suggesting that GC should have been more aware of what was going on, was in September 2010 retained on the Council alongside Ravi Shastri, who in contrast to his garrulous commentary avtaar has absolutely nothing to say about anything to do with his IPL governing council duties. Since his retention, there has been a scad of other controversies culminating in the murky doings around the January auction — and lo, Pataudi remains mute.)
Then again, the reasons for the GC’s inertia inadvertently came to light last year thanks to the mini-furor over Sunil Gavaskar being dropped from the Council, and the former India star in turn claiming that he had not been paid for his three years of turning a blind eye as a member of the GC. Remember how that argument went? Gavaskar said he was not paid; on behalf the board, N Srinivasan said of course he was paid. It turned out that both were right — the BCCI had paid Gavaskar what it was supposed to on paper, which is a sum of Rs 1 crore per IPL season; what Gavaskar was claiming was the larger sum “promised” by Sharad Pawar, in his capacity as then BCCI chief, for his “services”.
As is our way, the public debate at the time was all sound and fury, with both parties posturing for the media — but substance there was none. For instance — did anyone ask Pawar why he would pay Gavaskar a sum over and above that promised? What was that additional payment for, and what ‘service’ was Gavaskar supposed to render in return for that additional amount? Did anyone pose those same questions to Gavaskar, asking him to explain the sub rosa deal, and why he had agreed to accepting an undisclosed sum over and above the princely amount he was getting for doing the three monkeys act all in one go?
In a post earlier, I had argued that corruption to be eradicated or at least curtailed had to be tackled at source. On a related theme, read Gideon Haigh. And at the end, know this: this furor, too, shall pass. With no answers to the questions raised. The BCCI will sync up with the franchises behind the scenes, paper over the whole affair, and it will be back to business as usual — because that is the nature of this particular beast.
On a happier note, some good reading in the Outlook special issue on Sachin Tendulkar, now out on the stands. The roster of writers is excellent — the cream of the crop, really, from India and abroad. Buy it, savor it, keep it. In passing, my friend Krishna Prasad had called, asking if I was interested in contributing a piece to that special. Would have loved to — only, the call came at a particularly inopportune moment, with little or no mindspace to deliver what the subject required. In retrospect, of all the articles and blog posts on Sachin written over the years, I think the one I would have submitted for the special is this one — one of the last pieces I wrote for Rediff, as it turned out. My attitude today to Tendulkar the cricketer is what I tried to capture in this segment:
What does it say of Tendulkar that having raised the bar to impossible heights in 1998, he is able to effortlessly vault over it 11 years later?
We have for the space of two decades repeatedly witnessed the alchemy of genius effortlessly convert the impossible into the seemingly inevitable.
Do we, then, treasure each such glimpse of divinity in and of itself, painstakingly weaving them into the Tendulkar mythos and marvelling at our fortune that we were eye-witness to events that will provide grist for a generation of sports balladeers to come? And in the process of thus celebrating the genius, do we refrain from questioning the mortal who, in the lengthening interregnums between individual outbreaks of brilliance, needs the deeds of the past to justify his presence in the present?
Perhaps there is no pat answer to the conundrum. Writing in Mint, Dileep Premachandran quotes Mathew Hayden as saying: “When Tendulkar goes out to bat, it is beyond chaos — it is a frantic appeal by a nation to one man.”
Maybe we should just stop parsing the numbers; maybe we should be grateful that every once in a while, Tendulkar hears that appeal, and responds as only he can.
In passing, another good read — Wasim Akram on the art of pace bowling.