Mumbai, Aug 6: Last week's verbal face-off between ESPN-Star commentators Ravi Shashri and Nasser Hussain has brought into sharp focus the former's belligerent allegiance to the BCCI. Hussain's castigation of the Indian board's move to limit the Decision Review System for the ongoing India vs England Tests prompted Shastri to slam the former England captain.
Not surprisingly, it has become known that Shastri and his commentator buddy Sunil Gavaskar are in cahoots with the BCCI. The board is reportedly included the dynamic duo on their pay-roll, generously doling out a cool Rs 3.6 crore annually to each of them for endorsing the board's policies on air.
As though that action doesn't constitute a pernicious enough stratagem, the BCCI has arranged for Gavaskar and Shastri to figure in the commentary team of every international match played on Indian soil... so that they have ample opportunity to spread the BCCI's word, whether it be on the IPL, Decision Review System or any other bone of contention.
In their defence, the pair in question has repudiated claims that such going-on exude a conflict of interest. Shastri told a leading newspaper, "You have to see my body of work over 20 years. It doesn't matter who pays me. I have strong views on cricket which I express freely. If others are offered Board contracts, they should sign up as well," he said.
He also went on to say that his spat with Hussain erupted because his (Shastri's) view on the DRS just happened to coincide with the stand of the BCCI.
Meanwhile, Gavaskar conveniently skirted the crux of the debate, saying, "I'm quite happy to receive criticism that is constructive and am happy to improve. I would love to be Richie Benaud, but I know I can't be. I don't toe the BCCI line. Maybe I don't sound as critical as I did 20 years ago, but I think that is an age thing."
It is now upto the public to objectively ascertain whether these two men are in actuality doing the BCCI's bidding or not...