Greg Chappell’s gone, but Indian cricket’s love affair with e-mails continues. On Sunday afternoon, skipper Rahul Dravid sent out an extraordinary one to the media, taking a markedly conciliatory line on the BCCI’s decision to drastically cut player endorsements.
“It is not correct to project this whole issue as a conflict of commercial interests of the players and the BCCI. Let me clarify that there is no conflict between the players and the BCCI. The interests of the players and the BCCI are inclusive and not exclusive,” Dravid said.
On Saturday, several players had expressed their frustration with the BCCI, wanting to know what endorsements had to do with their cricket. The Board was grandstanding, and being completely unfair in the process, they told HT. These players could not come on record because there is a gag order on everyone except the skipper.
Sunday’s e-mail from Dravid, unprecedented in Indian cricket, has therefore, stunned many of his team-mates. Most had no idea it had been written, and some asked HT if it could be forwarded to them.
The e-mail read: “The BCCI has always been very caring and considerate about the players’ interests and I am sure that the BCCI would discuss the issue with the players at a suitable time… I have spoken to (cricket manager) Ravi Shastri and a number of the players and they all feel that with a healthy dialogue with the Board, which there always has been, all issues can be sorted out.”
Sources close to the Indian skipper believe that given the kind of man he is, Dravid's e-mail is his way of "buying time and peace in a world gone mad". Given the "arbitrary and dictatorial ways of this Board", he might believe there is no point in direct confrontation.
But for some teammates, whose only voice now is their captain, the e-mail represented "betrayal". Dravid — now declaring that the BCCI has always been caring and considerate — had been among the frontline rebels during the 2002 contracts controversy, when the entire Indian team, then in England, refused to sign International Cricket Council player contracts (approved by the BCCI) after an endorsement clause-related dispute.
The Board on that occasion even named a second-string side for the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka before giving in and backing the seniors against the ICC.
So, will Dravid manage to stand his ground and take his players with him now? Said a senior player: "I have no idea about what is happening. Obviously, the Board's decision on the endorsements yesterday was not in our interest at all, including Rahul's.
So maybe he has a plan in mind. But if he does not, this will be viewed as a betrayal by most, a sign of his giving up on us and giving in to the BCCI. He could be isolated within the team." That, in the interest of Indian cricket, would be disastrous.