The change couldn’t have been more dramatic. Indian cricketers had no voice, but now, they are empowered and liberated. And much of what is being said is directed at the Board.
Sachin Tendulkar made a casual observation that neutral venues in domestic games were no good. The BCCI changed its policy. In the middle of the team versus media controversy in England, MS Dhoni pointedly requested the networks not to sensationalise the matter.
Dhoni’s teammates are freely articulating their views on selection issues. There is enough comment on the South Zone bias in team selection. Yusuf Pathan did some plain speaking about brother Irfan’s omission, and before that Badrinath had tough words to say.
Players have not taken on anyone, nor stood up for collective issues. More disorganized than disunited, they have not felt the need to establish a common platform. The seniors require insurance or a safety net and the juniors realise it is practical not to be on the wrong side of officials.
So, why are the players now on the front foot? Are they taking a calculated chance? Are they genuinely angry and want to fight injustice? Or, is it that they just don’t care? The reason for the changed stance, partly, lies in economic liberation. Players are aware they are on a financially good wicket.
Professional leagues and opportunities of unlocking commercial value have given them a new sense of independence and self-reliance.
Youngsters like Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey are on the fast track and represent a generation that is funky and fearless. Players are products of India’s noisy yet vibrant democracy, also part of a society that is self-confident and upfront. So, if selectors deliver a no ball, the players will take a call.