MANY AMONG cricket fans may believe that Indian cricketers perform poorly on the field because they spend far too much time shooting for advertising films, endorsing various products, and not enough time practising or playing the game.
But clearly not the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). It has summoned the cricketers selected for the South Africa tour to Hyderabad to appear in an ad film being shot by the team's sponsor, Nike, on Monday.
Never mind the time spent travelling back and forth from Hyderabad, which could have been used for match practice in the few days left before the cricketers depart for South Africa. The team leaves on November 13.
Never mind the North Zone-East Zone Duleep Trophy game starting Saturday in Guwahati, which will continue into Monday. Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia and Harbhajan Singh, who would all have been part of the North Zone team, will have to miss the match. M.S. Dhoni will be missing from the East Zone team.
“I do not see myself playing for Jharkhand or East Zone in the Ranji and Duleep Trophy matches till the tour of South Africa is over,” confirmed Dhoni in Jamshedpur on Friday. “The BCCI has asked me to be ready for a shoot for the team sponsors (Nike Global), scheduled anytime before the team’s departure for South Africa.”
BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah, while admitting that a Nike shoot was scheduled, justified the players skipping the game. “We didn’t want players to risk injuries before the long tour of South Africa,” he said. “So we have told them not to play the Duleep game. Moreover, we hardly had time in between international assignments to shoot for the sponsor.”
Selection committee chairman Dilip Vengsarkar claimed he knew nothing about the ad shoot. But he did not sound happy when told about it. “The BCCI did not consult me on this. But I wish the players had played the match.” But they will not.
(With inputs from HTC, Jamshedpur)