Gavaskar has a disproportionate say in BCCI

Published: Tuesday, July 3, 2007, 1:05 [IST]
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To state that Sunil Gavaskar has a say in the BCCI affairs like no other cricketer-past or present-has, is to state the obvious. And it is time BCCI did an honest introspection whether it is being fair to cricket in India, millions of fans, so many eminent cricketers of distant and recent past and last but not the least, BCCI itself by bowing down to almost every wish and diktat of Sunil Gavaskar, as reported widely by media and commented upon by some cricketing greats.

With due respect to Sachin and Dravid, no one denies that Sunil Gavaskar has been the greatest batsman that India ever produced. The pin point measurement of a West Indian bouncers swing and the elegant swaying away from the line of lethal cherry is stuff that legends are made of. Forget about his record of 34 Test Hundreds having been bettered. Had Bangladesh or Zimbabwe of today, been Test-playing nations during Sunnys era, perhaps, Tendulkar with his todays tally would have been around half way mark of Sunnys hundreds. No questions about Sunnys stature as the undisputed Indian batting giant at all.

Does it mean Gavaskar will write in a column of his that Aussies are boorish and further implying that their sledging may result in someone from Australia getting killed like David Hookes? (For the unnitiated, former Aussie Test cricketer ended up becoming a part of mid-night Aussie bar brawl, and tragically died as a result of the fist fight that ensued). Sunny was roundly criticized for his outrageous writing by one and all, be it Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Viv Richards, cricketers from around the world including almost every Indian cricketer who was asked to comment on Gavaskars remarks and the Aussies of course. No one grudges anyone a personal opinion. But problem arises when personal opinions are made points of pride and pride transforms itself into a needless ego trip, as has been widely reported in this instance.

Gavaskar, certainly not the one to apologize for his deplorable reference to Hookeseys tragic demise, never apologized of course. But somewhere along the line all this ended up strengthening his own resolve that transformed into; Anyone but an Aussie as Indian Coach.

Dav Whatmore, the front-runner by miles, reportedly fell by the wayside due to Sunnys adamancy. In all this, does anyone care to ask what about Gavaskars own accountability? Wasnt he the one with major say in hiring Chappell as Indian coach? If unanimity of opinion points towards the disastrous impact that hiring of Chappell had, then surely, Sunil Gavaskar has to take a lot of blame for the decision. Why should coaches keep getting hired and fired while no one questions the judgment of Gavaskar and the rest in coach selection panel?

Look at some of the other innovations that have recently been tried out in the world of cricket, major push coming from none else but great Gavaskar himself.

The concept of super-subs in ODIs for instance! It was certainly a great idea, where a captain could summon his 12th man to bat or bowl to bail his team out of a crisis, or to put the game away from the reach of opposition. A thrilling idea, gone total waste because Gavaskar and his army of advisors could not figure out one simple niggle in the implemented version. And that is, they demanded the captains to name their playing XI and super-sub player before the toss. To illustrate the point, England team would name Vikram Solanki as the super-sub in the hope that they bowl first so that he would later, hopefully, replace a bowler and England overhaul the target with 8 specialist batsmen. What invariably would happen is, England would lose the toss, put into bat first and there went super-sub idea for a toss! Now if only England had the option of naming their super-sub after the toss, would it not have made the whole concept brilliant with the knowledge that either James Anderson or Solanki are going to be named the super-sub players? Ditto for every other team! Whose failing it was to spot this simple lacunae in a good idea? Ofcourse Gavaskar and his teams. Isnt it?

Take the power play rule, another brain child of Gavaskar and Co. It was felt that after 15 overs of field restrictions, every team merely consolidated between over 16th and 40th and this was making most ODIs pretty predictable and boring in the middle overs. So the concept of two separate blocks of power play overs, to be deployed at the discretion of fielding captain after first 15 overs came into existence. Now what is the ground reality? Almost every fielding captain, strives to get the monkey of power play overs off his back by over number 20th or 25th at the most. So how did it benefit? Could the able team of eminent cricketing brains led by legendary Sunil Gavaskar not figure it out that ICC could have made the ODIs far more interesting if mandatorily over numbers 1-10, 15-21 and then 30-36 were made the power play overs? Considering that between over numbers 40-50 in any case teams go for leather hunt, would it not have ensured that daring strokes are played throughout the length of innings?

One can go on thinking about the various, flawed brainchild of Sunil Gavaskar like the ones mentioned above or the disastrous 6 day Test between Australia and World XI, (a simple inability to understand a basic reality that assembling big stars from here, there and everywhere doesnt make a bunch into a great team). Point is not to say Sunil Gavaskar cant get anything right. The point here is, BCCI itself is wrong when it assumes that anything and everything that Sunil Gavaskar comes up with, is the perfect recipe for any cricketing problem on hand.

Everyone was aghast when Sunil Gavaskars antidote for his Anyone but an Aussie Coach, John Emburey was summoned for a farcical interview. (As if he stood any realistic chance!). Sad thing is that even upright gentlemen and astute cricketing brains like Ravi Shastri and Venkataraghavan bow to such whimsical tantrums, merely because they come from Sunil Gavaskar.

In distant past, one poor bartender at the MCC bar failed to recognize Sunil Gavaskar and this resulted in Gavaskar lambasting and lampooning anything and everything British for many years. While it is heartening to see that his recent spat with Aussies have made him soften his stand towards the much maligned British, does it mean BCCI would be made to appear dumb enough to overlook claims of Dav Whatmore, John Dyson, Geoff Lawson and Trevor Bayliss? And the net result is Sri Lanka and Pakistan end up laughing away with Trevor Bayliss and Dav Whatmore respectively, while BCCI is trying to shake off the impact of Graham Ford slap and left with 72 year old Chandu Borde and the crumbs that will come after him.

Maybe, there is a lesson for Mr. Pawar and Mr. Modi here. All the money in the world cannot save you from embarrassment if you yourself are not clear about what you want and on top of that are willing to dance to the tunes of some ones ego trip! Was there no one to ask Gavaskar what credentials exactly did he see in Emburey. And if at all Emburey was a serious choice, why Gavaskar could not use his towering influence to persuade him to take up Indian assignment once Graham Ford had left BCCI red with embarrassment?

Moral of the story is for all his cricketing greatness, in the end, Sunil Gavaskar too, is prone to make mistakes, just as everyone is. It is BCCIs or for that matter ICCs shortcoming if they assume Gavaskar can do no wrong. Bodies like ICC and BCCI must have internal mechanisms and competent panels to ensure that unless, giants like Gavaskar can convincingly explain their rationale behind a decision to one and all, they themselves must not get swayed away and bulldozed. And one can confidently say, there is no way Sunil Gavaskar can or will, ever explain why exactly did he bulldoze BCCI to accept John Emburey as possible India coach. For so many reasons, India should have a good, infact the best possible, coach of foreign origin, but if John Emburey has credentials to coach India, then so do Amarnath, Gaekwad, Madanlal, Sandip Patil and a million others have. Infact their credentials are far more impressive then John Embureys. Anyone will understand that, except..??!!??


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