On a tricky turf
Kapil Dev has threatened the cricket establishment by becoming the masthead of its parallel body, writes Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.cricket Updated: Aug 25, 2007 04:23 IST
The man who showed the world that Indian cricketers too could fight fire with fire is suddenly a central character in the drama that is threatening the very existence of the establishment. Kapil Dev, the champion all-rounder of yesteryear with a divine outswing and turbulent bat, is the masthead of the Indian Cricket League (ICL) — a venture that has antagonised the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) like never before.
Now, what exactly is Kapil doing as chairman of this league that plans to launch a Twenty20 tournament featuring a few retired/ageing international stars and a motley mix of Indian players who are either over the hill or stand little chance of making it big? As Kapil likes everyone to believe, he is trying to make things better for cricket and cricketers. Brilliant! What else could you expect from a man who led India to the historic World Cup win in 1983 and changed the mindset of Indian cricketers and fans?
Kapil’s saying that he is trying to make things better for cricket itself has raised eyebrows. Having played at the highest level with a lot of success, he should know that Twenty20 isn’t cricket. It’s a form of the game conceptualised to attract fans in parts of the world where the following of cricket is dwindling, and it’s also something that could compete with a matinee or evening show on TV because it provides some real life entertainment and thrill that can be consumed in three hours, unlike something that goes on for an entire day or five days.
It’s a novel business venture just like the Kerry Packer Series of the late 70s, and whoever thought of it must be lauded for his foresight and vision. Cricketers will benefit because they will earn cash in lakhs and crores (according to their stature). Even Kapil got involved because he would be gaining financially. It’s effectively a facade to hide other intentions of people who either run the game in this country or try to grab a share of the pie.
There would be nothing wrong if Kapil says he is helping cricketers earn money. It’s an honest way of income and the legend of legends could have kept it simple instead of trying to propagate that the betterment of cricket is what is on his mind. The lure for lucre is the driving force here and by consciously trying to paint a different picture, Kapil has proved again that his deeds off the field are not a patch on what he did on it.