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Wrong Way to Make a Point

17th September 2011.

If the modern players are exhausted then it is their own fault.

India’s boycott of the ICC awards ceremony more closely resembled a student protest than the conduct of mature sportsmen enriched by the game and obliged to promote its interests.

It was a trivial action that contrasted sharply with the glories seen in sports elsewhere, the superb performances of unsung nations in rugby and the brilliance of the top three players in men’s tennis.

Lala Amarnath a Lord's 1936

Lala Amarnath on his to 36 against Middlesex. Patsy Hendren is at slip and Fred Price is the wicketkeeper, Middlesex v Indians, Lord’s, May 25, 1936.
Photo ©:, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.


If only cricket was blessed with the sort of visionaries who invested time and funding in nations like Georgia, Samoa, Romania, Tonga, Canada and Russia, all now taking part in the rugby World Cup and holding their heads high. Heavy defeats were suffered in previous RWCs but rugby did not worry about that because officials looked far ahead, wanted their game to expand beyond its confines.

Cricket has no such leadership. Nor, by the look of things, does it have champions to put beside Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, great players whose recent encounters were full of epic exchanges. None of them stooped to conquer. Afterwards Federer flew to Sydney to represent his country in the Davis Cup.

Contrastingly, cricket’s leading lights sulked in their tents. Numerous excuses can be offered, but the fact remains they did not turn up. Presumably it was a protest against the ridiculous demands put on them by their governing body.

Absurd fixture list

Certainly the fixture list is absurd, with series and T20 tournaments piled on top of each other. Players have been treated like automatons. But no-one needs to feel any sympathy for them. India’s top players only have themselves to blame because they did not band together to put their points across.

Instead they have remained as individuals and so ineffective.

Elsewhere cricketers have formed associations and empowered them to present their cases. Elsewhere these associations have become strong and respected.

Indeed, they have become a means of resolving the periodic gripes that inevitably arise between employer and employee, official and player.

Had the mighty men of Indian cricket formed such an association when the time was ripe, and backed it to the hilt, they could have conveyed their concerns about the schedule and other matters arising. But Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and company formed no such body. Accordingly no one puts across the players’ points of view. Unsurprisingly the BCCI say it can like it or lump it. Lala Amarnath spent his career fighting against that attitude.

If the modern players are exhausted then it is their own fault. They did not stand up to be counted. If their spirits are weary and their bodies are aching it’s their own fault. If the programme is too packed, well what did they expect? After all it could not happen in Australia or England because the players’ representatives would prevent it.

Quality leaders

Not to say that associations are always laudable. Everything depends on the quality of those running them, and that’s up to the players. The West Indian association has been a destructive force run by an arrogant executive intent on improving the lot of his members regardless of the cost to cricket in the Caribbean. The New Zealand association is likewise so strong that it can veto coaching appointments and so forth. In these cases it’s up to the boards to stand firm.

But India’s players did not even try. Now they let down their supporters by absenting themselves from an important function. In that moment lions turned into mice. It was the wrong way to make their point. The players should have dealt with this issue years ago.

This article was written for The Hindu
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