The stormy relationship between India and Australia have been the talk of the cricketing world over the past few days and after tempers flared on-field the respective boards got together and soon the ‘brainfade’ episode erupted into a full-blown fight. It became a tussle of egos and neither sides were willing to flinch and surrender their grounds.
After Indian captain Virat Kohli launched a scathing attack on the Australians in the post-match presser, things were clear – he had dealt the first blow. The Australians responded when their CEO James Sutherland described the claims ‘outrageous’. Blows were dealt by either side and this is when the BCCI decided to step in and threw all their weight behind their captain.
Things were beginning to heat up even for India-Australia standards and both sides were gaping ahead with no intention of blinking first. The stage was set for an ICC verdict and the global body tried its best to douse the fire by issuing a statement on the very same day that they would not take any action against both Virat Kohli and Steve Smith. Ideally, the tempers should have eased after the verdict, but after sitting on the statement for some time, the Indian board decided to go full hog when they lodged an official complaint against Steve Smith.
The Flip-Flop begins
After the official complaint was lodged Indian fans were anticipating the board to not flinch and go ahead with purpose. And just then there was a meeting between the CEOs of the two teams and the BCCI decided to withdraw the complaint!
This was an anti-climax in so many ways and there was a joint statement issued by the two boards. From being labelled ‘cheaters’ and ‘liers’, suddenly there was a truce amidst all the clamour.
Hence, this sudden withdrawal of the plea by the BCCI is flummoxing in many ways. It was India and Virat Kohli who were in the driver's seat. After all, the entire 'Reviewgate' was out in the open and every movement of Steve Smith and Peter Handscomb was captured. It should also be noted here that the same Australian CEO, Sutherland who rubbished all allegations and vouched for the integrity of his captain and team offered a peace clause and for reasons which will never be known the BCCI took the bait.
Not only the BCCI but even the ICC appears to be a weak body. How can it give a clean chit to both captains, the truth was either black and white. Either Smith ‘cheated’ or Kohli ‘lied’, there was nothing grey in the entire episode. Hence, when the ICC decided to brush it all under the carpet, it only portrays them as a toothless organisation.
On second thought, the ICC can still be given the benefit of doubt as it would want to appease all the nations since it is the global body. The same cannot be said of the BCCI which has taken a U-turn even when it was getting the sympathy of the cricketing world. Just when it appeared to take the aggressive route, it’s sudden defensive “peace clause” move is startling.
The Australians were cornered and this ‘joint statement’ has only given them a window to somehow wriggle out of the hole. It is just very confusing as to why the BCCI stepped back knowing full well that had it been the other way, Cricket Australia would not have acceded ground. We have examples from history, the most prominent being the ‘Monkeygate’ which was blown so much out of proportion that the entire series came under the scanner.
And then there is taking the players into confidence. After Kohli levelled such serious charges against the Australians, by accepting to brush aside everything, has not the BCCI sidestepped its captain when it should have stuck to its guns and gone after the visitors when they were already on the backfoot?
How will the Indian team react when it takes the field in the 3rd Test match in Ranchi? Were they taken into confidence before this joint statement was sent out?
It is a very big question and Rahul Johri has a lot of explanation to do before the action begins on the field.
The ICC has already clipped the wings of the BCCI when it revoked the big three module and this was one occasion when the Indian board could have wrested some initiative back. This was one opportunity when the Vinod Rai-led board could have started going on the offensive. However, their approach of taking the “diplomatic” route is uncharacteristic and not generally association with the BCCI of yore.
And finally, when the dust settles, the Australians will not even bother speaking about this episode as they have been visibly handed an escape route.
Will the BCCI not regret not taking the bull by the horns when it had the opportunity to do so? Only time will tell.