Trust the BCCI to bring down the axe on its own feet, even when for once, it took a decision that earned it nothing but plaudits. The decision in question being the one-time benefit payment to former national and domestic players who retired before the 2003-04 season. But, the BCCI is now under fire, and quite rightly so for ruling out former India captain Kapil Dev and Kirti Azad from the scheme.
The reason - Kapil, who was the chairman of the now-defunct Indian Cricket League, has not accepted the BCCI's amnesty offer; and Kirti Azad has angered the powers that be at the BCCI by daring to voice his opposition against the cash-rich Indian Premier League, whose fifth edition has been mired in controversies.
Kapil may have led India to ultimate glory in the 1983 World Cup, and Kirti Azad played his part in that campaign as well; but obviously, their achievements for the Indian cricket team take a backseat as they have each dared to question and challenge the BCCI. If for anyone who still hasn't got the gist quite yet, challenging the BCCI is just not done, for the decisions they take are in the 'interests of cricket'!
Earlier this month, the BCCI had ratified a one-time benefit payment to former national and domestic players, totalling around Rs 70 crore, for their services to Indian cricket. The scheme, applicable to players who retired before the 2003-04 season, stands to benefit around 160 cricketers. However, the full list of 157 cricketers, who will benefit from the scheme has not been disclosed. Again, that's no major surprise, given the clandestine manner in which the BCCI likes to function.
While announcing the scheme during the opening ceremony of the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League, BCCI president N Srinivasan had said, "This is a small thank you to those who have done yeoman service to Indian cricket." Famous words indeed, then.
Kapil, the greatest all-rounder in India's cricket history, who played 131 Tests and 225 one-day internationals, has in the past been at the receiving end of some shabby treatment at the hands of the BCCI. But, even Kapil may not have seen this coming. And, neither would have Kirti Azad. The one former cricketer who can't have cause for complaint is Mohammad Azharuddin, as he is serving a life-ban for his alleged role in match-fixing.
Kapil inspired not only those players who shared the dressing room with him, but also a whole new generation of Indian cricketers, most of whom have sought to emulate his example. His record in international cricket is impressive, even someone who doesn't understand the game, will appreciate the fact, as they will that in his playing days, Kapil gave more than a 100 percent on the field, and didn't hesitate to bend his back on the unresponsive Indian and sub-continetal pitches. Kapil isn't a flashy character and neither does he shoot his mouth off just for the fun of it. But, when he speaks, it is, more often than not to make a pertinent point.
To make matters more 'interesting', a top BCCI official has said, the board may give Kapil the cheque in private. "It’s quite possible that the BCCI didn’t want to present him the cheque in public glare because he (Kapil) is part of the ongoing ICL vs BCCI case in the Delhi High Court, and that the Board felt that it would send a wrong signal to the world. It’s possible that the Board would invite him and hand over the cheque quietly, in private.” So, the BCCI feels if it does decide to shower its largesse on Kapil, they would rather do it behind closed doors and away from the public glare in murky fashion? If that indeed is the case, nothing can be more insulting to Kapil.
He must have also realised by now not to expect too much from the BCCI. Kapil, who is entitled to get Rs 1.5 crore as per the scheme, took the latest blow on the chin as he told PTI: "I am a contented person and these things will not bother me. I enjoyed playing for India and that is it. I do not have to do anything more. I do not feel comfortable in talking negative. I am a very positive person and I do not have to talk about negatives."
Meanwhile, Kirti Azad, who on Sunday had protested against the alleged financial irregularities in as well as the running of the IPL, said he will continue taking on the BCCI head on. “If they don’t give me money, can they take away my  World Cup victory? I won’t stop talking about the ills in the BCCI," he said.
The BCCI certainly can't take away the achievements of Kapil and Kirti Azad by denying them their dues by acting in such a childish and petulant manner, but they certainly haven't endeared themselves too much either by their latest antics.
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