Shas­tri Fires a Warn­ing

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Anand Vasu

For­mer In­dia cap­tain and coach Ravi Shas­tri cau­tions those who are try­ing to take ad­van­tage of the pre­vail­ing sit­u­a­tion, says ‘the BCCI will be back where they be­long very soon’

In­dian cricket is on a high, rid­ing the crest of a string of wins in Test cricket in the course of a bumper home sea­son, but those that gov­ern the game have come un­der se­vere fire from the courts of the land. In a fur­ther body blow, the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil’s re­cent de­ci­sions re­gard­ing fi­nan­cial re­struc­tur­ing and gov­er­nance could have a se­ri­ous im­pact on how the fu­ture un­folds. Ravi Shas­tri, for­mer cap­tain, team di­rec­tor and stri­dent de­fender of all things In­dian pulled no punches once more.

“I was very pleased that the com­mit­tee that went to Dubai for the ICC meet­ing re­ally took up the is­sue with the ICC board. Vikram Li­maye, Anirudh Chaudhry and Amitabh Chaudhry. I’m glad they made the BCCI’s reser­va­tions very clear,” said Shas­tri. “In my mind In­dia de­serve every penny that they get from ICC tour­na­ments, sim­ply be­cause they are the Pied Pipers of world cricket. Some­thing like 80% of rev­enues for these tour­na­ments come from In­dia. Then to say that In­dia is the bully, be­cause they are ask­ing for an ex­tra share, is the big­gest load of non­sense I’ve heard. The BCCI is not ask­ing for 80%, they’re ask­ing for a much lower per­cent­age. You take In­dia out of the equa­tion, I’d like to see what kind of rev­enue will be left.” Shas­tri was also un­der­whelmed by the man­ner in which cer­tain other cricket boards re­acted. “I’m ex­tremely pleased that Sri Lanka sup­ported In­dia. Dur­ing these times when there are is­sues with the BCCI, be­cause of the court in­ter­ven­tion, peo­ple should not for­get that the BCCI, as an in­sti­tu­tion, was in­stru­men­tal in help­ing Bangladesh and Zim­babwe, who went the other way.”

More­over Shas­tri ques­tioned the sud­den U-turn. “It was a doc­u­ment signed two years ago, ac­cepted by all coun­tries. Sud­denly this holier than thou at­ti­tude sur­prises me. In­dia should de­mand every pound of flesh they de­serve. All the coun­tries were ben­e­fit­ting from what was agreed on two years ago. Coun­tries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh were get­ting much more than they used to.”

Shas­tri warned against op­por­tunists at­tack­ing the BCCI when they thought it was weak. “Peo­ple who think this a good time to make the most of the state of f lux should heed this warn­ing: be­ware, you are mak­ing a mis­take. This in­sti­tu­tion is here to stay. The BCCI will be back where they be­long very soon.

“As far as I am con­cerned there are too many ICC tour­na­ments. In my mind, the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy should be scrapped af­ter this edi­tion be­cause it only di­lutes the World Cup. Who re­mem­bers who won the last three edi­tions of the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy? But if you ask me who won the last 10 edi­tions of the World Cup I can tell you.

“This pe­riod of time should be given to in­di­vid­ual coun­tries to make their do­mes­tic sea­son pros­per. I would use that cor­ri­dor for another two weeks of the IPL and prob­a­bly have nine or 10 teams in the fu­ture. The IPL is a mas­sive plat­form from which young­sters can be show­cased. If In­dia are the pow­er­house that they are to­day across all for­mats, the IPL has a big role to play.

“What’s im­por­tant is to fo­cus on bi­lat­eral series. In­dia should have a set home sea­son with at least six matches in front of their fans each year, as Eng­land and Aus­tralia have. The ICC should know the story of what hap­pens when you even think of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Take care of the goose and it will give you more and more.” It’s been sug­gested that the BCCI only pays lip ser­vice to Test cricket while it has time only for the shorter, more lu­cra­tive ver­sions. “When peo­ple point fin­gers like this, they should re­alise there are three fin­gers point­ing back at them. In­dia wouldn’t be the No. 1 ranked team to­day if Test cricket wasn’t pro­moted by the BCCI. I only want it to be pro­moted even more.” Put it to Shas­tri that he only takes such a stance be­cause he’s an em­ployee of sorts of the BCCI and ben­e­fits di­rectly through com­men­tary as­sign­ments, a n d o u t c o me s the tracer bul­let. “That’s bull­shit. I ’ ve worke d a l l around the world. If I am some­thing to­day it’s be­cause of the op­por­tu­ni­ties the BCCI gave me, ex­cept, not as a com­men­ta­tor, but as a player. Peo­ple should get that. That’s the most im­por­tant role of a cricket board,” said Shas­tri. “And, you want to be loyal to an in­sti- tu­tion that has been your guardian right through your grow­ing years. How many peo­ple get so much from any in­sti­tu­tion? I’m say­ing this straight to your face, not hid­ing be­hind the BCCI and still try­ing to make the most of things. All I’ll say is, that when trans­parency in ad­min­is­tra­tion and elec­toral pro­cesses are in place, BCCI, the in­sti­tu­tion, will be back to where it should be.”

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