Autumn is here and the cricket season is now in full swing at home. Even as the Board of Control for Cricket in India chief N Srinivasan spends his time fighting legal battles and petty issues with other state unit officials, the CLT20 climax awaits us today.
The crowd response for what is considered to be the best international franchise tournament in the T20 format has been pretty good, going by what one has seen from television images being beamed from Jaipur and the Ferozeshah Kotla. For a city which shows interest in sport only when free passes are doled out, the CLT20 has been a bit different.
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People are lining up for the big-ticket finale though there is no pure local connect at all. The stalwarts of Delhi — Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were playing in Shimoga and Delhi Daredevils did not figure in this competition.
What it goes to show that such is the thrill of the T20 format, people love to see any team which plays hard instant cricket.
With Rahul Dravid leading Rajasthan Royals into the final at the expense of Chennai Super Kings, this has indeed been the mother of all upsets.
I am sure now that Chennai have been bounced out, Mr Srinivasan would have gone into sulk mode.
There are jokes doing the rounds that for a team which should have been scratched from the Indian Premier League, its journey in the CLT20 ended early minus all the ‘fixing’ drama.
Move away from the instant success of the shorter format of cricket, we have the ODI series coming up against Australia, to be followed by the West Indies’ visit. While venues and dates for the lone T20 and seven ODIs against Australia were announced well in advance, the BCCI is still twiddling its thumbs on what to do with the West Indies series.
Given the anaemic international calendar this winter at home, there is considerable interest in the two Tests against the West Indies. There has been a lot of speculation for over three weeks that this is going to be the farewell series for Sachin Tendulkar, though the 40-year-old young man has himself not said a word about it.
Watching him in recent times has been very painful and the CLT20 has not been very different. Going into the semi-final, Sachin has done little worth note, though he did reach 50,000 runs in top-flight cricket on Saturday. To imagine he will suddenly light up the series against the West Indies is wishful thinking.
Frankly speaking, the way the BCCI has gone about planning the hastily arranged series is laughable. If at all this is to be Sachin’s last two Tests, 199 and 200, let them be played at any Test centre in India. Why something of statistical importance should be given more importance over the main event is bizarre.
Given the dynamics of the BCCI politics and how Srinivasan does not see eye to eye with some individuals, he may actually be waiting for the Mumbai Cricket Association elections on October 18 before he makes a decision.
For the average cricket fan and millions of Sachin Tendulkar devotees at home, this is the time to make a pilgrimage. When you and I plan any religious yatra, we know where we are going and at what time.
However, with the BCCI now in a state of inertia, venues for the two Tests have become like some state secret.
Just imagine the plight of the cricket lover who wants to see Sachin in action live in these two big Tests at home. He or she does not know where to travel and when to travel. As it were, this is the Dussehra break and travel within India is madness.
Then again, to the BCCI, the fan has never mattered. The Supreme Court has told Srinivasan he cannot discharge duties as the BCCI president, so it seems the rest of the officials sitting in an important body like the Tours and Fixtures Committee are now in “sleep mode”. By now, not only should the venues have been announced for these two Tests, there could have been a marketing drive to hype them up. In the normal course, Tests don’t attract too much attention but the Sachin factor coupled with the comatose state of the BCCI is now playing spoilsport for fans.
The other day when the BCCI sent a press release on sponsorship for the 13 matches at home, there was a surprise. STAR and ESPN joined hands for the deal and actually ensured the BCCI suffered a loss of 17 crore.
The BCCI should read the writing on the wall that when you plan short series at the last minute in such a slipshod manner, you cannot expect to milk the sponsors. At a time when the BCCI is also paying huge taxes, a dip in its earnings reflects the malaise that has afflicted the richest sports body in the country.