Gambhir criticises BCCI for poor scheduling of Tests
TEST cricket and testing times were the two major points of discussion at the celebration of Boria Majumdar’s latest book, ‘Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians’, at ITC Maurya in the Capital. The afternoon of May 17 began with two panel discussions on cricket – steered by journalist and author Majumdar himself – and ended with the announcement that a biopic on Jhulan Goswami, detailing the testing times the former India women’s cricket captain has had to endure, was in the works.
Coming back to the panel discussions, the first one focused on the administrative part of the game, with the chairman of Committee of Administrators (CoA), Vinod Rai, commenting how “between the eleven gods (cricketers) and the billion Indians (fans) there is an intermediary (BCCI) that takes on the role of a pujari.” The problem with BCCI in the recent past, he added, was that “the pujari was becoming more important.” Rai did add, however, that the BCCI was instrumental in building infrastructure for cricket in India.
Mithali Raj, captain of the India women’s cricket team, continued Rai’s last frame of thought by revealing how tough things were before the team came under the umbrella of the BCCI. “We had to find sponsors for our kits and equipments, and some people didn’t even have proper kit bags. Now, girls are looked after by the state boards and everything is a lot more professional,” she said.
During the second panel discussion, which brought a few players of the men’s cricket team on stage, the discussion revolved around the waning popularity of Test cricket. Gautam Gambhir, especially, lamented the fact that fans weren’t as responsive to Test cricket as they were to T20 or oneday matches.
“The problem does not lie with the fans,” he said, “but with the media and the BCCI. The main problem is in the way Test matches are marketed – it’s not the same as T20 or one-day matches. Taking Test matches to smaller cities is not the solution. Maybe we need to cut down on T20 and one-day matches, or cut down on prices during Test match days. We also have to try and get the younger crowd more interested in Test matches.”
Harbhajan Singh supported Gambhir’s views, and added that the 2001 Test cricket series against Australia “changed the face of Indian cricket”. Singh continued, “Before that, Australia was playing really well. But after that Test series, we felt that we could win anywhere in the world. A lot of credit must go to Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble — all the seniors. It all started from there.”
(From left) Harbhajan Singh, Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina during an event in New Delhi on Thursday.