Heed the warnings before it’s too late | india | Hindustan Times
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Heed the warnings before it’s too late

india Updated: Aug 29, 2009 00:59 IST
Pradeep Magazine

The Sehwag rebellion may not have achieved the desired results, but it has made a wide range of sports followers realize that there is a serious problem in team selection, not just in Delhi but across India.

Delhi may be the worst example, typified by the fact that those who control the levers of power are behaving as if they are outsiders caught in a vortex of corruption, which they want to remove but are helpless in doing so.

Subjective bias is inherent in any judgment, especially when it comes to recognizing talent at the junior level.

It is this subjectivity that becomes a ruse for pushing those in the team with “right connections”. That it happens almost in every state association is a concern which even Yuvraj Singh has voiced.

A swift condemnation of his statement by the board was inevitable.

But no amount of pious utterances can hide the fact that Indian cricket could be standing on a powder keg that can explode one day to destroy the credibility of its selections even to the national side.

Let me go back in time to the days when match-fixing stories were thought to be creation of those with “diabolical minds, out to destroy the credibility of Indian cricket”.

The warnings were not heeded, and we had to pay a huge price for it.

Today, one hears many stories of bribery and corruption even at the senior level, something similar to what one used to hear before the match-fixing scandal broke.

One has no proof of this being true, and frankly they do appear far-fetched given that it is hard to manipulate selections in tournaments which has huge media scrutiny and performance is the sole criterion for selection to the Indian team.

Having said that, there is always this uneasy feeling that something could be amiss, especially when the selection has to be made from a pool of huge talent, where A is as good as B, but unfortunately there is place for only one.

And when one watches those with conflicting interests mixing with each other and even doing profitable business with each other, this feeling of unease grows.

When we have had board members as selectors, agents of the players doing business with the board, those who sign players for endorsements trying to become administrators, officials owning IPL teams and selectors becoming brand ambassadors of those teams, isn’t disaster lurking somewhere in the background?

When I was in my teens, a talented leg-spinner friend had to bribe an association secretary with a suit length to get into the Ranji side. This was at a time when players used to get a pittance.

Today, a Ranji player earns around Rs 15-20 lakhs a year and a Test cricketer more than Rs one crore.

Today, each association gets around Rs 25-30 crore a year as its share of profits made by the Indian Board.

It is a money boom which is no doubt welcome, but unless measures are also taken to introduce a regulatory mechanism, and the Board made accountable for its spending, there will always be a suspicion that not everything is above board.

Flush with money and the strength of its national team, Indian cricket is ruling the world.

It can ill-afford a scandal which could tarnish its image in the world of sport and shame the nation.