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Andrew Bloxham

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Petty BCCI Missing a Trick

Posted: 07/02/2013 11:57

The role of the BCCI as pantomime villain of world cricket continues. Just as news of a Test series involving India neglecting the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) had begun to induce a mere sigh of resignation in place of erstwhile outright consternation, they have upped the stakes.

Sachin Bahaj, founder of the Global Cricket School, had invited youngsters from a selection of English counties to visit India in a bid to further their education on the comparatively paradoxical tracks of the sub-continent. The BCCI, clearly content in progressing its cast as the Big Bad Wolf, promptly determined that foreign players could only use their facilities with express permission from themselves; permission that was conveniently refused.

It is widely believed that the debut performance of Yorkshire batsman Joe Root - benefactor of similar tours previously - during the recent Test series against England in which he made match defining contributions of 73 and 20 not out, could be directly responsible for the latest BCCI initiative. The accomplished manner of Root's batting on pitches notoriously treacherous for English batsmen has clearly ruffled a few well preened feathers amid the Indian hierarchy.

They are correct, in essence. Allowing foreign youngsters to familiarise themselves with Indian conditions during the infancy of their careers might indeed prove advantageous when the stakes are raised in later years. Nevertheless, India possesses the vastest resources world cricket has ever seen both in terms of talent pool and capital; it should care little for such matters. A brief glance at the relative success of England alongside the number of overseas players county cricket entertains each year proves that, ultimately, it is of small consequence.

The question must surely therefore be raised as to the obligations attached to global cricket boards. Is their remit purely to further the success of their own nation, or for the widespread benefit of cricket? If it is the latter, and I believe it is, then allowing foreign cricketers to garner experience of Indian conditions is undoubtedly important in ensuring that Test cricket retains the highest standards in future. Seeing a touring nation battle in the face of adversity in unfamiliar conditions is a highlight of the game, and an integral part of what grants Test cricket its status as the ultimate cricketing challenge. Observing the routine humiliation and trouncing of a hapless touring nation with the odds stacked hideously against them, however, is not.

For the gain of Test cricket, a balance must be achieved whereby a stern challenge coincides with a fascinating spectacle. Allowing a selection of overseas cricketers to undertake short tours of the sub-continent to attain a flavour of such challenges is surely not too generous a bounty. They will, after all, never rival the experience and know-how of indigenous players in such conditions. A petty decision to deprive English batsmen of practice against spin throughout the warm-up games of the aforementioned tour is a prime example of an embarrassingly childlike demeanour of the BCCI ensuring all cards are inscribed with Hindi and stacked in their favour.

Among the numerous ailments of the BCCI appears to be amnesia. A rather useful batsman of the recent era, one SR Tendulkar, plied his trade on swinging, seaming English pitches for Root's own club Yorkshire in his formative years. Today, centrally contacted Indian players are prohibited from treading the same path and playing county cricket. In an age in which Indian batsmen look increasingly irresolute beyond their own front porch, it is a strange resolution indeed.

Whilst misdirecting the true source of its own internal failures toward hugely insignificant issues in the implementation of UDRS, incompliant groundsmen and the accommodation of foreign youngsters in India, the BCCI continues to overlook - or indeed chooses to ignore - the genuine reasoning behind the inadequacy of cricket's largest and most powerful participant.

Despite the retirement of a number of the old guard across the last 18 months, fitness and fielding standards remain poor in the context of Test cricket. This is not a novel quandary in Indian cricket, and combined with a lack of exposure to unfamiliar conditions for blossoming Indian cricketers - many of which would be most welcome in county cricket - it has made for a string of humiliating Test series defeats, particularly overseas.

Until such concerns are remedied, India are consigned to languish a considerable distance behind the fitter, stronger and more malleable nations they currently sit staring up at. If on-field success were to take priority over trivial one-upmanship against rival nations in an attempted exhibit of supremacy, the BCCI might one day be able to stop making excuses.

It is perhaps fitting that the first two letters of the acronym could well amount to Blame Culture.

 

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