Gamb­hir crit­i­cises BCCI for poor sched­ul­ing of Tests

Mail Today - - MY BIZ - By Sri­jani Gan­guly

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.”

PHOTO: QA­MAR SIBTAIN

(From left) Harb­ha­jan Singh, Gau­tam Gamb­hir and Suresh Raina dur­ing an event in New Delhi on Thurs­day.

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