Who rules world cricket? Not the ICC and not even the Indian Board. Going by the events of the past few days, which has left the sport in tatters and reputations bruised, exposing the ugly underbelly of the sport, the one entity that feels “vindicated” and is in a celebratory mood is the “Indian Nation”.
Fuelled by endless ammunition from the all-powerful TV channels, backed by the print media, the Indian public has felt so outraged that its opinion and judgment mattered more than what anyone else thought was right or wrong.
<b1>There was justified anger. There was self-righteous indignation. There was reasoned argument and there was illogical, irrational understanding of the sport itself. It went on and on. Emotions got exploited and the Nation felt betrayed. How dare the cricketing world treat us, who control the economic levers of the game, like an orphaned child whose cry for justice is being ignored? How dare anyone mess up with New India?
In the end “Justice” and “Truth” prevailed. It had to when 90 per cent of India, according to various polls conducted through SMSs, wanted nothing but the removal of the umpire and withdrawal of all charges against Harbhajan Singh. That it was a genuine anger is proved by the fact that people were willing to spend money on SMSs to express their angst.
Victory for democracy. Victory for the mob.
Poor BCCI and its mandarins. What choice did they have? The decision had been made; they just had to validate it. If they had not, they could have even been “lynched”.
The Board, in any case, has those unbridled powers, like that of a child who in galli cricket owns the only bat in use and if given out can disrupt the game by walking away from the match itself.
And the ICC? Caught in their own inefficient, bumbling world, unable to come to terms with the new cricketing world, which wants a foolproof interpretation of the laws of the game, it has now collapsed. Collapsed under its own weighty contradictions where its corporate governance is controlled by the officials of its Board members, who from time to time demand their own pound of flesh.
And one of its members happens to be India, whose president will soon be the president of the ICC as well. Sharad Pawar must be squirming at the thought of having to one day decide on a similar contentious issue as the head of the international body, where his ruling could hurt the Indian Nation. Imagine having to deal with an issue where an allegation against an individual for a racist slur is being treated as if a country has been accused of being racist.
The Board’s response to this accusation also dealt at length with how India is not a racist country and has been at the forefront of the fight against discrimination on the basis of race, caste, and religion internationally.
Rejoice Harbhajan. There can be no greater honour than to be told that Harbhajan is India and India is Harbhajan.
Where does this leave us on the cricketing front?
With the pride of India being at stake now, the Indian cricket team will have to respond to its call and fight the next two battles on Australian soil with all its might and power.
You better cover yourself with glory, even if it may cost you your lives. Otherwise the same SMSs that vindicated your honour could as well…