In 12 days time, it'll be 2009. A year that has seen huge devastation outside of cricket, as one that has seen much to celebrate for India in it, will be behind us. At the same time, there are still major worries that should not be brushed under the carpet merely because the Indian team's having a good run.
But do those that man the world's richest board even realise that there are problems? Do they care? We don't know, but ahead of a brand new year, we can hope they have some answers to these issues.
1 The people who make up the gate receipts, the millions of television viewers who tune in to cricket --- isn't it time to give them a break? To insist on better TV production quality (full overs at least!) during games and spare some of all that lovely moolah to make watching cricket in stadiums less of a traumatic experience and more the entertainment it should be. Is asking for clean loos, good food, comfortable seating and more systematic arrangements in general too much?
2Those major tax benefits you enjoy are because 75 per cent of the money you earn is supposed to go back into the development of the game in that same year and the balance, if any, into a fund earmarked for cricketing activities, to be spent within five years. Presumably, it's all documented so there's no problem with the authorities, and there is some top grade developmental activity worth millions (of dollars, given the current revenue) going on. Why the deep, dark secret? In any case, why don't you have an information management system? The other major boards and all other sport have it, why can't you?
3You talk of transparency and accountability. So we ask you this --- are you really looking closely at what your state associations do with the double digit crores each gets annually as a share of TV rights, etc? Have you checked on the membership clauses, and how many relatives, even the personal staff of a secretary/president of an association, are voting members? Don't you find it strange that certain state units dole out almost monthly salaries in the range of Rs 50,000-100,000 as D.A. to their office-bearers? Or that others have elections after years? Or does nothing matter more than doling out favours for votes?
4Why don't you put aside something to help the players deal with the life of being an Indian cricketer? You don't want a players' union (why this insecurity?) but in that case, shouldn't there be a system to help the players deal with the spotlight and responsibility they have? Why don't you train them properly to deal with the omnipresent media and have an available 24-hour helpline to deal with general stress (a mental conditioning expert for just the national team will not do)? What about some lessons in financial management? Or a system where only trained/licensed people are allowed to be agents instead of allowing susceptible youngsters to be gobbled up by just anyone?
5 Finally, we watch aghast at the sparse crowds at Tests and wonder if it bothers you at all, or is early success of the shortest version of the game enough? Does it embarrass you that we have a two-Test 'series' on? Do you have a long-term plan at all to handle Test cricket or just to disrupt the FTP? Shouldn't you also be worrying about the absolute lack of interest, except for a measly handful, in the country's premier domestic event, the Ranji Trophy? Doesn't the health of the game depend on it having a strong foundation? Will you do something about it?
You've made the money. Now show us you care.