When the India team for the Nagpur Test was picked, there were questions over a couple of selections. But no reasons were given by the selectors on why the decisions were made.
Any attempt from the media was met with one phrase, “We are not authorised by the BCCI to comment.”The media was left guessing as to why certain players were picked or dropped.
Former India skipper Bishan Bedi told HT, “It is a very unhealthy trend that no one is allowed to speak. For example, they’ve authorised Rajeev Shukla, a politician, to speak on every issue. Can he explain on every facet of cricket, from IPL to selection?”
Bedi later told a TV channel that the hefty salaries paid to the selectors was working like “hush money”. “The BCCI must answer why the selectors are being gagged?”
While the selectors are gagged, the case of the players is no different. These days, even at the domestic level, players have become wary.
Each player, whether domestic or international, is expected to abide by a code of conduct which prohibits them from speaking against the BCCI or even the home association, a subset of the Board.
Of late, the code has been taken to mean silence. The players prefer to remain quiet as interpretations of what they say can cause the BCCI or home association some bother.
During the first season of the Indian Premier League, Indian players weren't allowed to write columns while the foreign players were. This caused unrest among the Indians and now they can but not on issues that bother the officials. “During our days too, we weren't allowed to speak. I think that is better, they should concentrate on playing,” says ex-player Madan Lal.
But he does agree that if a player has a grievance, he has no option as he can't let it out to the media. “Although senior players have been trying to form a players’ association over the last 20-30 years, there has been no result,” he says.
Choice of officials
Despite being a cash-rich body, the BCCI's choice of information officers isn’t professional.
The choice of media managers on foreign tours, for example, includes politicians, who are senior association officials and others who’ve had no training in media matters. An example was how the differences within the team Down Under earlier this year were not handled properly.