Indian cricket is turning into a tale of two extremes. The national team is climbing steadily on to a perch with a stunning view of the horizon even as the administrators stare into darkness from a bottomless pit. It is an amazingly contrasting narrative that has fans strapped into a seemingly insane roller coaster ride. The Indian team is scaling new heights with their relentless pursuit of victory while the Board of Control for Cricket in India is embroiled in a bitter legal battle that has turned into an existential nightmare.
The bad news first – the Supreme Court seems happily conjoined at the waist with the recommendations of the Lodha Committee. The inexplicable delays over the past few weeks have extended a long rope to the well-entrenched team of administrators, but a final judgement is clearly round the corner.
It is a foregone conclusion that several, if not all, of the current collection of officials shall be swept away by the tide of imminent reforms. It is likely that the most powerful sports body in India is swallowed by a tsunami of recommendations, many of which have been deemed impossible to administer by the current regime.
The long-running BCCI-Lodha battle
Key recommendations such as an age limit of 70, one state-one vote, a three-person team of selectors with Test experience and a cooling period of three years – are apparently unpalatable to the grand old daddies of Indian cricket. With politics interspersed inseparably with administration, recommendations such as those that bar government servants and ministers from taking BCCI office are naturally hard to ingest.
No one is certain about the date of the final judgement in this matter. Anurag Thakur and his men await the final decision by the judiciary, but their review petition has been summarily rejected. Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice SA Bobde dismissed the BCCI’s plea for a review of the July 18 verdict that ordered the implementation of the Lodha Committee reforms.
“We have examined the grounds urged in support of the prayer for review. We find no error apparent on the face of the record to warrant recall of our order dated 18th July, 2016. The review petitions are, accordingly, dismissed. Applications for hearing in open court are rejected,” read the judgement signed by the venerable justices.
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s damning indictment of Anurag Thakur’s attempts to derail the reforms, Sharad Pawar resigned from the Mumbai Cricket Association. It was the clearest indication yet of the coming storm when the judiciary makes a final pronouncement on January 3, 2017.
While, on the field, India are triumphant
On the good side of the coin are our cricketers. The Indian team can barely put a foot wrong, coinciding with the emergence of Virat Kohli not only as a batting mainstay, but also an undisputed leader of the team. India is now unbeaten in 18 Test matches, winning nine of the twelve matches this year alone.
“Yeah, it’s been a memorable 2016 for the Indian cricket team and that’s something I am really proud of. To be part of such a good year and such a good season, especially with the team in transition, is something we can be really proud of,” said an emphatic Kohli.
But this is just the foundation that has been laid for us to carry on for many years. It’s just the beginning. It’s nothing that we want to achieve, it’s not even a tiny bit of that. We understand where we want to go and hopefully the guys can keep putting in this kind of effort and take the team where it belongs.”
Though 27 is a tall order, it is not a number that will be lost on the captain. Kohli has a fine sense of cricketing history and with the wealth of talent at his disposal, there is no denying the fact that he will be eager to keep this run intact for another nine test matches. The West Indies team set the benchmark between 1982 and 1984 when they went unbeaten for 27 matches.
The brash confidence of Kohli’s men is so reminiscent of the character that Sourav Ganguly sought to infuse into the team during the early part of this millennium. The prince of Kolkata assembled a team that combined experience and youthful vigour in equal measure to play an unhesitant brand of cricket. Ganguly ushered a new era in Indian cricket by coaxing his team into adapting an aggressive mindset. He helped Indian cricket shed its defensiveness through his leadership and combative nature.
The big difference though has been the ability of the current team to produce the goods despite constant upheaval. While Ganguly built his edifice on a strong core of resources, Kohli’s team seems unperturbed by the transitory nature of its resources.
Wriddhiman Saha was effortlessly replaced by Parthiv Patel. Karun Nair came in for an established Ajinkya Rahane to produce a thunderous triple hundred. Jayant Yadav transformed himself into an all-rounder to reckon with, playing deep down in the company of his skipper.
Leagues ahead of the competition
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja produced the goods, collecting 54 English wickets between them, through pluck and patience. KL Rahul proved his credentials for the longer format with a tall 199 that put him suddenly in the league of Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara.
India is now leagues ahead of its competition – with a handy 15 point lead over Australia in the ICC Test Rankings – 120 to 105.
The fortunes of the team on the field are diametrically opposite to those of the team inside its fourth floor headquarters at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. It makes for a curious contrast that suggests that sport in India can continue to thrive despite the shenanigans of its larcenous administrators.
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