31 January 2008

A Cricketing Saga!

The racial vilification saga that plagued the Second Test between India and Australia seems to have been resolved in India's favour...no shock on that one. There should be no shock either in realizing that the International Cricket Council (ICC) caved into the demands of the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket India). Nor should there be any confusion that the threats of the Indian management that they would have been required by the BCCI to pull out of the tour and that planes had been chartered to squirrel the team out of Australia in the middle of the night be under-estimated because from all accounts this is true.

Could the result of the appeal gone any other way...I thought that India was a country with a common law tradition and an understanding of an independent judiciary. This is not to say that the judge in the appeal here was threatened or caved into any particular wishes. He did not! But the mere thought of the BCCI jumping up and down on the spot like a petulant child leaves a sour taste in one's mouth.

What suffers here is cricket!

There should be no doubting that the ICC must now vote itself out of existence and let the BCCI run the game particularly if what is being reported is true. That is; Cricket Australia (CA) was more worried about a potential USD 60 million lawsuit than making a principled stand against racism in sport and forcing the players to follow their less than courageous lead supposedly for "the good of the game".

The appeal and review process seems to have set the standard for racism at the "beyond all reasonable doubt" level before a penalty can be imposed. So, the alleged offender had the charge downgraded and eventually was fined 50% of his match fee -- in essence a slap on the wrist and sent home without a ban. The alleged offender as part of the deal did acknowledge that he used offensive language (see an earlier blog entry as to what he said) although at the time this whole sorry saga broke he denied he said anything offensive either...what is the truth, who knows!

So, the BCCI has effectively flexed its muscles and had an umpire replaced and sent home, forced the ICC to alter the rules governing appeals, and forced the ICC to back down on the racism charge...in a boxing analogy this is no mere points decision, this is a first round KO for the BCCI of the ICC. The ICC should not be allowed back into the ring until it gets a medical clearance stating that it is fit to represent the interests of world cricket. I thought these blokes were paid well to have a spine!

The idea that the outcome of the hearing would see India go off and try and establish a separate cricketing organization is fear-mongering at its worst. The reality is that the BCCI has some much financial clout because of international cricket -- the BCCI needs the teams from the rest of the world to remain profitable. It is about time that both the BCCI and the ICC realized this...If the rest of the world was to pack its cricketing kits and tell the BCCI to shove there demands in a place where there aint no sunshine, then BCCI revenues would soon fall.

The World Series of Cricket and rebel cricket tours to South Africa during the hey day of apartheid showed us that rebel leagues have only passing fascination and ultimately the fans return to the real deal.

All in all it has been a sorry saga and a saga hopefully not to be repeated.


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