Board leaves players tongue tied

Is the Indian cricket board being fair in the way it's been policing its players?

Mumbai -- In Indian cricket, these are days of long contracts. It's no surprise that most dread the paperwork and will any time trade sweating by the bucketful to going through those long sheets. In the end, they blindly trust their Board and put pen to paper. Who would bother to check if they are allowed to speak on a job well done? It defies logic that anyone would put a gag on such a straightforward thing. But ask Rohit Sharma.

After enduring a long period of struggle, Sharma returned a hero this week, having played a starring role in the Champions Trophy and the Tri-nations Cup in the Caribbean. For a long time, he had been receiving stick in the media for being inconsistent.

And finally, it was time to soak in the praise.

Panic mode

Thus, on return, he spoke to the media about his success. That was until someone informed him he would be in trouble for the interviews. Soon, in panic, he was calling up journalists, requesting them to drop his success story, apologising that he was not aware that the Board rules barred players from speaking for a couple of weeks after a tour.

Sharma is not alone. A day earlier, Test star Cheteshwar Pujara had been served notice by the Board for speaking to a national daily without permission. Pujara will make his one-day debut in Zimbabwe and had spoken about his excitement.

Is the Indian cricket board being fair in the way it's been policing its players?

Officially, N Srinivasan is no more in the seat of power, but it is clear the policies put into force during his time are still being followed.

Srinivasan has been an efficient administrator but has been too rigid on many fronts.

The Board under him has increasingly resembled a body where everything is too controlled. The latest is that even top functionaries of the Board have been gagged since the last month, except Jagmohan Dalmiya, who is an expert at deflecting issues.

"It's not my call, I simply got an intimation from the Board office that the player is not allowed to speak to the media for a certain period after the tour," said a top Board official, declining to speak on record.

No celebration

Thanks to the strange policy, the stupendous effort of the Indian players at the Champions Trophy and the Tri-nation series has almost gone unnoticed.

After winning back-to-back events in trying circumstances, it was their time to bask in glory.

They were given no time to celebrate after the Champions Trophy triumph and were sent directly to the Caribbean. Neither was there an arrival press conference on return from the twin tours, as is the norm.

In its own inimitable way, the richest Board has rewarded them, offering a few dollars more. But it's time the BCCI showed some understanding for the sportsman's psyche instead of treating them as mere businessmen. For sportsmen, it's also about the passion and thrill that comes from the recognition of their feats.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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