Baffling, to say the least
By specifying how many overs a bowler should be bowling, the national body has interfered in the tactics of a team and compromised the firstclass game.
First of all a disclaimer. This is being written from the other side of the world from India, where I had the good fortune of being invited for a cricketing awards evening. So the information that was received there may not be entirely correct and the ground reality may be a lot different than what the news portrays.
However if the news coming through that the BCCI has instructed the Cricket Association of Bengal to ensure that Mohammad Shami does not bowl more than 15 overs in an innings with a grace of maybe two or three more in the Ranji Trophy game that Bengal is playing is true, then the national championship has been diluted and Bengal’s chances of getting maximum points have been reduced substantially. Mind you the pitch could well turn out to be a spinners’ paradise and Shami may not have to bowl more than half a dozen overs in the entire game but by sending such instructions and handicapping a firstclass team the BCCI has made a mockery of the national championship — the Ranji Trophy.
Make no mistake, the intention behind the decision is to help the Indian cricket team on its tour of Australia, but by specifying how many overs a bowler should be bowling, the national body has interfered in the tactics of a team and compromised the firstclass game. What if Bengal is looking to get an outright win and full points and finds that Shami has finished the quota BCCI has given him, plus the grace overs and the last wicket of the opposition is giving stiff resistance and time is running out? Imagine Shami, who may have picked the top order in the spell allotted to him, cannot bowl anymore and the opposition escapes with a draw. And suppose at the end of the league stage Bengal cannot qualify for the knockouts because of those two points it missed out on, then it has every reason to question the BCCI as to why it was asked to restrict Shami’s overs. In fact, I am hoping that Saurav Ganguly, the CAB president, who was such a combative cap tain will put aside his administrator’s hat and put on the captain’s hat and make a big hue and cry about this. If the BCCI had wanted to protect Shami from the workload factor — a new term that has crept into the modern game — then it should have said that Shami should not be picked at all. But to restrict his bowling is palpably unfair on the Bengal Ranji Trophy team.
It will be interesting to find out who in the BCCI took this cricketing decision. The Cricket Advisory Committee — the brilliant idea of the late Jagmohan Dalmiya — has been discontinued for whatever reason, so