It’s been barely a week since the abrupt disruption in the scheduling sheet of India’s calendar for 2013-14 was announced. Haroon Lorgat, Tendulkar’s 200th test venue, Tendulkar’s possible retirement et al. have been the speculated reasons behind this discretional decision; and most likely silence will prevail over reasoning this occasion as well. While the Lorgat- BCCI tussle will be a masala-story to track over the next couple of months, the period till the WI series will be spent in associating & discovering the relevance of this unplanned tour to Tendulkar’s landmark!
While the BCCI appears to have snubbed CSA in the process, it has saved itself from large-scale criticism by using Tendulkar’s impending milestone as a safeguard tool. Post the Lorgat appointment the anticipation of a conflict between the two boards wasn’t unexpected, but what has surprised many is the timing & the way it has popped up 2.5 months before the itinerated tour. The BCCI is flexing its muscles at the cost of curtailing a much awaited clash between two top test sides. The DRS issue followed by the current issue pushes you to believe why the prospect of might equating global responsibility is an erroneous equation at the moment. As caretakers of the sport, the administrators must realize that quality cricket at a lesser frequency will take the game forward than the other way around.
As an Indian fan the reactions are conflated - an unexpected month of home international cricket for a season devoid of such action and the SA tour likely to be reduced to a fast food snack rather than a complete meal. Yes a Tendulkar milestone can subdue the disappointment of a curtailed away tour, but number of career matches is more about longevity & endurance rather than accomplishments on the field. The bigger question that shall occupy debates/discussions is will he quit cricket after that series? His willow hasn’t yielded a 3-figure score for 30 months, the calendar average hasn’t breached 40 for the last two years and India has 4 major away tours in the next 18 months!
For somebody whose stats rarely possessed grey areas, the numbers are hitting hard currently. He has quit ODI cricket and very soon will quit all forms of T20 cricket. At 40 and under the circumstances the recent future isn’t looking all that bright. Unlike contemporaries like a Ponting, he isn’t too candid about his plans in the public space and with the selectors adopting a tight lip policy on players the onlookers are left to speculate.
This uncertainty has given way to simplistic conclusions of Tendulkar being the primary reason of the world’s richest cricket body tinkering with the FTP (Future Tours Programme). A closer look at the way it has played out will reveal that irrespective of Tendulkar being on 198 test matches, a short home tour would have happened. The SA tour as initially laid out (by CSA) was supposed to begin on 21st November and end on the 19th of January 2014. The scheduled announced after the BCCI working committee meet marks 19th January as the date for the first ODI in NZ!
This year’s IPL edition was engulfed by controversies of serious nature. 3 months post the story came to light, barring the arrest of cricketers and bookies, nothing substantial to counter corruption in lower levels of the game has been actuated. Public perception is short term and authorities in bigger organizations probably work on this principle to counter controversies & subsequent questions. Given the financial clout Indian cricket commands at the moment, a white flag would be raised on either side and an ‘amicable’ tour chart would be drawn when BCCI-CSA officials meet later this month and differences will probably go under the carpet. Ravi Shastri in his Dilip Sardesai Lecture emphasized the need for the BCCI to take the fan’s view into consideration and it is indeed high-time key words like transparency, rational replaced terms like opaqueness about the outlook of the BCCI.