Baf­fling, to say the least

Sportstar - - INTERVIEW ODISHA CM - SU­NIL GAVASKAR

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

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