Cricket’s disconnect with it’s fans is growing. It may not be obvious in terms of TRP ratings but just one look around the TV screens when the matches are being played and you know…
By definition, a black hole is “a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying.” As it turns out, it can also happen when a sport is dying. Cricket’s disconnect with it’s fans is growing. It may not be obvious in terms of TRP ratings but just one look around the TV screens when the matches are being played and you know. The more you observe, the more it seems like the 2011 World Cup was the high point, perhaps the highest point.
When Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography ‘Playing It My Way’ was released, one of the questions doing the rounds was ‘Why has he not written anything about the match-fixing scandal?’ The answers went from: He has no guts, he wants to play safe (who wants to take on the BCCI), he sticks by his ‘no controversies’ policy, to the simplest one: he didn’t feel people needed to know.
But then again, the more you think about it, the quicker it dawns: No player or official in the BCCI has come out and spoken against match-fixing or even tried to explain what’s really happening. We are left to make our own assumptions and draw our own conclusions without ever really knowing whether any of it is true. Match-fixing is a serious matter, yet Tendulkar’s argument for not revealing anything about it was that he did not know the whole truth. Now, if a player who was part of the team and played many of the ‘fixed’ matches had no idea of what was happening, what does it mean for the sport? Then again, if a player – who was and perhaps still is India’s biggest star – couldn’t find out what went wrong, then what hope do we have?
People in the BCCI and those who have played the sport themselves are far more likely open up to Sachin then they are to the media or in public. They are also far more likely to tell Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, but all we get is the silent treatment. These guys were all part of the team too during those tumultuous times but no one has ever come out and said anything. It’s like a black hole within a black hole – something that perhaps even physics might not be able to explain any time soon.
Forget match-fixing – India is perhaps the only country in the world where selectors don’t have to explain their decisions. There is no media conference after squads are picked and they are not allowed to speak to the media. They can pick who they want and they only need to explain it to the BCCI president. The rest of us just get to watch from a distance. When the BCCI selection meeting to pick the squad is postponed, there’s just get a mail in our inboxes. Not explaining why it needed to be postponed, instead simply informing us that the decision has been taken.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is being forced to miss the first Test of a hugely vital series against Australia. So what really happened? Couldn’t we have rested him for the series against West Indies too? Is there any chance that he can still make it? How will India do without him? Naman Ojha or Wriddhiman Saha? There are lots of questions and the BCCI’s explanation was one that required an explanation: “MS Dhoni has been rested for the first Test as a prophylactic measure to ensure optimum recovery.”
The BCCI and its minions once again escaped into their black hole.
Strangely enough, we got a far more detailed explanation pertaining to the chain of events that led to West Indies’ withdrawal from the tour of India. They ‘probably’ did that because big money was involved and it helps to get some press in their favour. And it’s ‘probably’ because we will never know for sure. The BCCI does not even explain why it is fighting N Srinivasan’s case for him. Yes, the answer seems obvious but the case is against Srinivasan, in his personal capacity, so why is the BCCI – as a whole standing up for him? Once again, we run into the wall of secrecy that surrounds the BCCI. Nothing goes in (what people say doesn’t matter) and nothing ever comes out. They may be making a lot of money but they certainly aren’t winning any fans and that matters too. If the BCCI ever came under the scanner of Transparency International, it would probably be last or maybe it wouldn’t get a ranking at all – because black holes as a rule can’t be seen by people. They are just there, sucking the light right out of this world and we don’t even know it.