Controversies, antagonistic opinions, desertions and clashes ruled the cricket world last week, which also saw India’s second biggest historic achievement under Rahul Dravid in one year, when they overpowered England in England. Last year in July, it was the West Indies.
However, the ‘lost opportunity’ to make it 2-0 thanks to a defensive no follow-on approach drew much debate and soured the otherwise triumphant atmosphere last Monday. While Rahul Dravid appeared upset with people sitting in their living room and passing comments, even seasoned pros like Ian Chappell found fault with his approach though the former Australian Captain did say that unlike Ponting, Dravid could not have risked defeat considering the passion the game generates in India.
Further, the comments attributed to Zaheer Khan on his fitness level on day four ignited heated debate like never before, and put the management in damage control mode. The avoidable controversy was a little unfortunate as Zaheer deserved compliments for his performance and fittingly, it came from England’s test Captain. "I can't remember so much swing, not even from Chaminda Vaas or Wasim Akram," exclaimed Vaughan.
ICL Comes of Age
It was the week when the Indian Cricket League finally showed the cricketing world that it was no flash in the pan. The fact that promising players like Ambati Rayudu decided to join fences with ICL has, ironically, made BCCI the nursery for ICL players!
After India, the biggest talent pool for ICL could come from Pak, and even teams like New Zealand where payments are peanuts compared to what ICL is going to offer. And unlike Lara, these could be active international players. As per reports, Abdul Razzak and Mohammad Yusuf may well be in while talks were on with another superstar Asif. Temptations ranging from a few million rupees (for domestic Indian players) to 100 million for people like Asif, for three years, may well get the League going. But when will this venture yield profit, only time will tell. As of now, they are meeting all their targets, including acquisition of players!
Bishan Bedi, Muralitharan and Arjuna Ranatunga seemed to be involved in an ugly spat, this time fraught with dangerous legal implications.
Bishan’s freedom of expression may be encroaching the acceptable limit in case of Muralitharan, but in case of Ranatunga, it crossed all limits. Though Ranatunga too was guilty of improper choice of words.
"That man (Muralitharan) is the best shot-putter in the history of cricket. People like him are just killing the game and nobody is doing anything about it." That is how Bedi had criticised Muralitharan last week. And if that was not enough, he rubbed it in further saying "Murali will complete 1,000 Test wickets, but they would count as mere run outs in my eyes."
In reply, Ranatunga too called him names on a TV Channel. "That idiot just wants publicity". A furious Bedi came back even harder on Ranatunga calling the former Sri Lanka captain "a bigger idiot because he as captain created the ruckus regarding chucking issue".
Cricket remains a gentleman’s game, but equations do change for retired gentlemen. Murali wants compensation…"apologise or pay up". With him hiring a lawyer to fight his case, we might be in for a long drawn out battle.
This week, one can surely expect some more muck involving Bedi and Sri Lankans, an English fight back in ODIs to save their honour after the disappointment of the Test Series, more announcements from ICL management and some stern measures from BCCI and PCB on ‘deserters’.
Fireworks should continue, both on and off the field.