Ex-captains in news for different reasons
The past week saw two former India captains make news for different reasons. Mohammed Azharuddin, the stylist, filed his nomination for the post of President, Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) in their impending elections. In 2017, he had filed his nomination for the same post which was rejected for lack of proving that the ban imposed on him by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was lifted.
The last decade has seen former officials of the HCA embroiled in many controversies and allegations of misappropriation of funds. The association that has given Indian cricket many luminaries including Ghulam Ahmed, ML Jaisimha, Abbas Ali Baig, Abid Ali till VVS Laxman needs to be taken back to its old glory and that is exactly what Azharuddin has promised. Hyderabad has been an integral part of the Indian cricket story and continues to be a center that has been throwing up talented cricketers.
Associations like HCA and many others find themselves in a quandary ever since the reforms suggested by the Lodha Commission set in. The Committee of Administrators (CoA), appointed by the Supreme Court have fixed October 22 as the date of the BCCI elections and have directed state associations to complete theirs by September 28.
With the qualifying guidelines for candidates being clarified by the CoA, one should (hopefully) see a new lot of people in the crucial position of taking Indian cricket forward. Former cricketers, by and large, have shied away from contesting for positions in their respective associations as many have stood and lost to lesser known opponents and most are averse to become part of a political game.
Noted former India players including Ajit Wadekar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Gundappa Viswanath and Madan Lal among others were not elected when they stood for their respective state elections. Winning elections are more about having a mass base and sops offered to voters rather than knowledge of the game and contribution to state and the nation with wins, runs and wickets.
There have been many former players including Ghulam Ahmed who served their states as able administrators and we currently have former ‘A’ listers like Sourav Ganguly who are carrying the baton for cricketers. Being a former player should not be a criteria for standing for elections. We have seen many non-cricketers like SK Wankhede, NKP Salve and Madhavrao Scindia who took their state and national associations in the right direction.
Having said that, it is imperative to have the right mix of cricketers and administrators if Indian cricket needs to progress. The impending state and BCCI elections will be very crucial this year as the qualifying criteria, set by the Lodha Commission, will give an opportunity to newer faces who will lead the charge of the country’s favourite sport.
Another former India captain also made the headlines without playing a match for a little over two months. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has been hibernating and sitting quietly on the sidelines was ignored by the Indian selectors for the shortest version of series’ against South Africa. Dhoni, who had taken some time off from cricket by missing the series against the West Indies, seems to have got a gentle nudge from the selectors that he needs to make up his mind about sticking around or hanging up his glorious gloves.
Recent comments from Indian skipper Virat Kohli - that youngsters picked to play matches before the T20 World Cup (2020) will get ‘four or five’ opportunities to prove themselves. By not picking Dhoni and continuing their support to a miserably out of form Rishab Pant (before the last Twenty20 match against the Proteas at Bengaluru), MSK Prasad and company seem to have their plans for the T20 World Cup sorted out.
With no official statement coming out of BCCI or the protagonist, it is safe to state that MS Dhoni has been dropped from the shortest (T20) format team. If the stalwart is picked for the T20 matches against Bangladesh, after the current series, or the T20 and One Day International matches against West Indies, they would be regressing in their ultimate objective.
Retiring is a personal decision of the player, something that must be respected. As far as Dhoni is concerned he should put to rest debates on his playing status of ‘to play or not to play,’ by coming out with his preference and go out on his own terms as Sunil Gavaskar has suggested. It would be akin to a Shakespearean tragedy if he leaves the world stage without a proper farewell.