“A metropolis beyond imagination”

The cavalier attitude to doing due diligence ahead of the selection process (time was, it was mandatory for players to produce fitness certificates ahead of selections; players in time found tame doctors to produce the necessary certification; over time, the charade was given up altogether; in circa Srikkanth, the practice is to pick the team and, in the addendum, add pious hopes that various players sporting various niggles will recover in time to save the selectors’ blushes) seems set to cost the Indian team — per most recent reports, Praveen Kumar’s injury has not responded to treatment as rapidly as was hoped for, and the bowler will now rush to England for additional treatment. Whether he will or will not be able to play is still unknown.

That aside, will leave you with a lovely piece by Suresh Menon on the tragedy of Eden Gardens. An edited excerpt:

Few, however, have been able to capture the sheer passion of the Kolkata fan. The illogicality of his obsession, the thoroughness of his preparation, the amount of hardship he is willing to put himself through for the pleasure of seeing Tendulkar bat or Sourav Ganguly adjust his sweater.

And it is this constituency that Jagmohan Dalmiya and his band have let down. The fan asks for nothing more than a good match – and an India-England tie had the potential to be just that in the World Cup – but whether it was the arrogance of the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal or his stupidity that has denied them this, it is not good for either Kolkata or India, or indeed cricket….

The Board of Control for Cricket in India must take some of the responsibility too, for although the World Cup is an ICC event, the national board has obviously to ensure that venues are ready and the shopping list of do’s and don’ts adhered to. It might have suited the current dispensation in the Board to blacken Dalmiya’s face for political reasons, but as usual in the petty politics played out by petty men, the larger picture is missed. Hang national pride, who cares about how a nation about to sup at the high table appears to the rest of the world.

Suresh ends his piece with the thought that this fiasco could be the end of Jagmohan Dalmiya. Not a hope (even the writer doesn’t believe it). The functional illiterates that comprise the BCCI may not know Sun Tzu from Chop Suey, but “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” is the number one tenet in the Board playbook.

For the first two years after the regime change, the Board spent considerable energy trying to “finish off” Dalmiya, with Modi leading the charge and at one point claiming that Dalmiya would be sent to jail.

What followed was hilarious, if you like your comedy like your coffee — black.

The BCCI trotted out charges of misappropriation of funds relating to PILCOM, the Pakistan-India-Sri Lanka joint committee that conducted the 1996 World Cup. In December 2006, he was expelled from the board and all its member associations.

Dalmiya went to court — and in June 2007, got a stay from the Calcutta High Court of his expulsion. And then the real fun began — Dalmiya moved a counter case charging Board officials including Sharad Pawar, Niranjan Shah, Shashank Manohar and Chirayu Amin with perjury.

Thing was, the board based its suspension on an amendment to the rules governing disciplinary action that had, as per usual, written after the fact (remember recent imbroglios about last minute amendments to auction rules, and the other one relating to conflict of interest where a convenient amendment was inserted after the fact? SOP for the BCCI, this habit of writing its rules on water).

Worse, the BCCI honchos had forgotten that for a rule or amendment to be legal, it had to be duly registered. Since they had casually pencilled in a convenient amendment to justify their proceeding against Dalmiya and pre-dated it, it was not possible for them to register the clause, as the discrepancy in dates would then show up. They hoped no one would notice. Dalmiya, who during his tenure had developed enviable expertise in exploiting the rule book to his own personal ends, did.

To really put the lid on it, the officials while appearing in Calcutta High Court in response to Dalmiya’s legal challenge, placed the hastily written amendment before the court and swore that it was in fact official; when queried about the fact that it had not been registered, the officials further claimed that the Board had sought and received permission from the appropriate body to register the amendment at a later date.

Both were lies (arrogance is bad enough — when you add ignorance and chronic idiocy to it, the mix becomes combustible, and that is the real problem with the lot currently running cricket affairs in the country). The amendment as presented in court was dated September 2000 (the intention being to make it appear as if it had been written when Dalmiya was still in charge), but the application for its registration was made only in late 2006, after action had been taken on its basis against Dalmiya.

Faced with the prospect of criminal charges pertaining to falsification of documents and perjury, the Board decided on discretion as the better part of revenge, and allowed action against Dalmiya to lapse. It then proactively worked to bring Dalmiya back into the fold, first facilitating his re-election to the CAB as president by failing to appeal the court verdict, then tossing him several sops. (Ironically, thanks to the BCCI’s tendency to over-reach itself, the upshot was that the real issue — misappropriation of funds — had to be given a quiet burial).

All of this was based on the belief that a Dalmiya within the BCCI family was less of a danger than a vengeful Dalmiya floating around on the outside — more so when the prospect loomed that he might join forces with Lalit Modi. (Imagine the havoc those two, who know where more bodies are buried than your average cemetery attendant, could have caused had they worked in tandem against the board.)

Given this, fat chance Dalmiya and his administration will pay for the gross negligence, that has deprived the Calcutta crowd of a chance to watch the national team play in the World Cup in the unrivaled atmosphere of the Gardens.

PS: This habit of sneaking in last minute clauses into the rule book is about to get the Board into trouble on a different front. News reports indicate that there is a clause stating that 20 per cent of match fees will be deducted from capped players in the event their team fails to make it to the Champions’ League. Not surprisingly, players are up in arms and have already registered their protest, on the grounds that they had no prior line of sight into this clause, which was sprung on them at the last minute. Said players might want to consider another aspect to this: 10 teams, only three CL slots. In other words, the clause is tailor-made to save seven franchises considerable sums of money. Wonder who pencilled this dilly into the contract at the last minute.

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26 thoughts on ““A metropolis beyond imagination”

  1. did anyone notice Nehra’s 2 overs yesterday in the warm-up match? WTF was that start! Just ambling to bowl dollies to Shane Watson. Even Dhoni was visibly upset. This is a world cup warm-up!
    Harsha was doing commentary at the time and tried his best to be not harsh -“I think with this he would complete 100m in some 48 seconds!”.

  2. What do u think of SM Krishna’s gaffe @ the UN? Does other countries take us seriously when we are pitching for permanent seat in the UNSC at every available opportunity

  3. Prem, did you get chance to read the entire spot-fixing tribunal judgement pdf? Its very detail. There was more than what we saw in the videos. Some of the defence was ridiculous, to say the least – “he was just teasing”, really teasing a captain of an international match during the match.
    Would like to know your comments on the entire doc.

  4. There once was a man named Panicker
    Intresting was his second monicker
    He used to write
    On cricket bright
    Why has he stopped now? twisted his knicker?

    • It seems BCCI & Srini finally successful in silencing PP …no new posts from him. Now readers of this blog watch out wherever you’re –at home, office, mall the ceiling made of India cements going to come off and fall on your head.

      A year back PP and everyone in the media was writing about the excess of L.Modi. It needed someone as powerful as NS to kick LM out. NS did not do it for charity. He is a business man used his connections, time, effort for personal gains. Now one section of the media is after NS but any person replacing him will be more powerful than him either from business or some minister. It won’t be some saint, school head master or one jobless retired Supreme Court judge.

  5. SRT doesnt have a century against Bangla in ODI’s and I hope he gets one to complete the bouquet of centuries against Test playing nations. If he gets one, surely we cannot lose in the opening match. I just hope somebody whispers this into his ear about the record 😉

    • That was below-the-belt man. Do you think a player will be happy ONLY IF he plays? Have you ever played Cricket? Forget it, have you ever been in any sports? Any team event for that matter? Geez, I will be wary of you if you work with me in my team, man….

      • You mistake me completely. I was not offended by RS being happy.. heck even I was happy being a TV spectator.. but more the fact that he was talking as though he played a part in the victory. The fact is that he was a bench warmer the whole time.. go back and listen to the tone in the video (after listening, I went back to the scoreboard, really wondering how he performed.. only to not find his name anywhere!)

        Yes… underneath my comments come from a broader understanding that Sunil “36 no” Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri were never team players, but really in it for their selfish interests and records, unlike some of their peers like Kapil, Madan Lal, Shreekanth, etc. It’s no wonder only Kapil won the big one for us

  6. As there were lot of old links published alongside why not a bit of cricket nostalgia? It might be a good idea to remove the powerplays in ODIs,and perhaps allow 60 over ODIs in England or whichever country wants them or perhaps the host country can decide if they want 50over ODIs or 60 over.

  7. Regarding the 20% clause, actually it was not last minute sneak, but it got made in last december itself. If the players were not comfortable they could very well have withdrawn from the auctions.

    please find the link
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/cricket/news/article.cfm?c_id=29&objectid=10693715

    The most contentious is this point

    “6) Players are not supposed to compete in any conflicting Twenty20 competitions around the world, a clause likely to be contested under restraint of trade laws.”

      • Had a chance to meet him in Fremont, California. I heard him saying that he was responsible for Sonia not accepting PM post. How true is that?
        Interesting thing about Swamy is that all his actions have resulted in some scam being exposed, I will take it anytime 🙂

        • If you hang out with him, you will find that he was responsible for everything from India getting Independence on down. Except scams and scandals, of course.

          I agree he plays a role as spoiler. The catch though is, he exposes those whom he is opposed to at a given point in time, and shields those he is currently in love with. Vide Jayalalitha, to cite just one instance.

          Plus, someone should take a hard look at the sources of funding for his own party.

  8. Given the no of articles, you have written against BCCI, I am surprised Yahoo got to host the official World cup site and you have not yet been hounded out by Srinivasan & his cronies

    • 🙂 Yahoo got the WC site from ICC not BCCI — and in any case that contract was signed before I even joined. Also, the BCCI can arm twist people within the cricket fraternity — players, officials, commentators, whoever. Not those outside — or I would have been dumped from Rediff, where I wrote far more against the BCCI than I do on this blog. The BCCI’s modus operandi is simple: those it can threaten, it threatens. Those it can bribe, it bribes. Those amenable to neither threat nor bribe, it ignores.

      • Well, it is not far-fetched that they can influence Yahoo in the future, no? You never know – they might have deals and unrefusable offers for a company like Yahoo which can benefit from the events associated with assets that BCCI controls. You sure watch out, mate.

  9. “Wonder who pencilled this dilly into the contract at the last minute.

    Surely not N Srinivasan? Because he pencileld in other last minute changes, apparently, to enhance his team’s cahnces of doing well?

    And regarding the perjury, is it not possible for anyone other than Dalmia to bring BCCI to the court for it? For instance, can you file a PIL or something given your knowledge of the wrong-doings here?

    • Didn’t name names on that one because i don’t know. As to the other — to bring such a charge, you either have to be an interested party, or at the least have sufficient original documentation to be able to take to court. Given how the BCCI guards its paperwork, fat chance of that. 😦

  10. Extremely well written (researched, easy to understand) post , which makes it a pleasure to follow this blog.

    The only hope is that with the SC getting the board under the scope of Prevention of Currpotion Act, we will hopefully see some punishments and better administration (Castle, air..)

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