For a change, cricket officials are facing the heat and many, players included, are having a quiet laugh. Till now only players were under the scanner, coping with the pressure of performance. But now, the focus is on the people who run the game.
Suddenly, the issue is of good governance, and the key stakeholders — the faceless cricket fans — are raising questions that require credible answers.
Just as players’ technique gets tested in tough conditions, the flaws of cricket administrators, too, are getting exposed. With cricket driven by commercial impulses, all manner of challenges emerge — ranging from excessive cricket (need to balance different formats; issues of player injury/burnout/rotation) to excessive commercialisation (cheerleaders/post-match parties/money over medals controversy).
As the situation is dynamic, administrators are like captains of T20 teams who are required to think on their feet to find the answers. In this context, experience is of limited value, maybe even an unnecessary baggage because a new disease needs a new medicine — you can’t cure swine flu with crocin.
In India, the issue of governance has surfaced primarily due to the raging controversies surrounding the IPL and the strenuous efforts to douse them.
But we are not alone in manufacturing a crisis; our neighbours are doing s fine job too. Pakistan in fact is a clear leader; their cricket is a long-running episode of excitement and thrills. Only a few months ago, senior players were banned and fined as their attitude/integrity was suspect. But now all is well — Younis Khan is back, Afridi’s fine reduced, Shoaib Akhtar respectfully rehabilitated and Shoaib Malik declared a good team-man.
Sri Lanka, too, has gone through a spell of internal turbulence. The Lankan sports minister declared that their cricket body was not just inefficient and mismanaged but, according to some ranking system, also the third most corrupt organisation in the country. And, in case people missed his point, the minister made it clear by reconstituting the selection panel.
Elsewhere, Chris Gayle, the West Indies captain, scored a first by sending off a bowler for disobeying his instructions. Now that this has happened, another captain may call back a batsman for not scoring quick runs! Don’t be surprised.