The Pink-headed League

46 Comments

Laloo Yadav’s fodder-filled pot belly. Kareena Kapoor dancing to exaggerated facial expressions. Big bear Inzamam Ul Haq‘s “Bismillah ur Rehman ur Rahim”. Sporty men catwalking in shocking pink uniforms (picture courtesy Bombaybitch) Brian Lara in orange. Diya Mirza expressing her love for cricket. Stupendous sums of money. Twenty-two men, some with a great future behind them and some with no future ahead, running around on a bumpy cricket field in front of non-existent audiences.

Yes all this can mean only one thing.

The India Cricket League, the sporting equivalent of Mithunda’s “alternative Bollywood” in Ooty, is on.

And I, for one, am rooting for the ICL, even though doomed to failure it is in front of the “official” BCCI league with its monopolistic hold over the current stars and the real stadiums.

Why?

For one, the BCCI, historically an organization of honorary clowns, is increasingly beginning to look like a truly evil corporation, a corporate entity that would make Walmart, Exxon and Dow Chemicals as benign as the Red Cross.

Any organization whose ostensible mission statement is to improve the standards of Indian cricket would have welcomed the exposure ICL is giving to its cricketers in terms of providing them with superior coaching, physical conditioning facilities (which include relaxation of their “stiff muscles” as per picture to left and this article) and the opportunity to learn from established international professionals.

Of course BCCI is not “any organization”.

Not merely satisfied in banning ICL cricketers from first-class tournaments, they have, in Al CaponsihI want him dead. I want his family dead. I want his house burnt to the ground. I want to go there in the middle of the night and piss on his ashes. ” style, also banned them from all corporate tournaments effectively putting their permanent jobs in jeopardy and even prevented them from entering Board-controlled premises, as if , as Reetinder Singh Sodhi says, they are criminals.

If there is any crime anywhere in this picture, it is how BCCI treats its employees. While the top bosses eat the cream accumulating stadium-like girths and jet-set all over the world in premier style, first class cricketers are paid pittances (a certain state board gives Rs. 25,000 for an annual contract). If they get injured, they are often not reimbursed for medical treatment. Greats like Prasanna are treated with disrespect. And if any doubt remains about the BCCI’s regard for our domestic players, sample this.

In a surprise move on Monday, a senior member of the Indian cricket board said that for their inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) they are ready to accept overseas players, who have signed for the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL), but put a question mark on taking back domestic cricketers.

“Foreign players who have joined the ICL are welcome to play for the IPL, provided they terminate their contract with the ICL,” said board joint secretary MP Pandove after a board meeting here.

When asked whether domestic cricketers, who have joined the ICL backed by the Essel Group are also welcome, Pandove said: “I don’t think they have any chance.”

The Board launched the IPL in order to counter the rebel ICL.

Some of the fringe domestic players and foreign cricketers like West Indies great Brian Lara and South African Darryl Cullinan have joined the ICL, which will kick-off with the inaugural Twenty20 Tournament from Nov 30 in Panchkula.

The board has barred all domestic cricketers, who joined the ICL, from playing in board-run tournaments.

Board vice-president Rajiv Shukla said as of now the exemption is only for overseas players. “Foreign players will be allowed to shift from ICL to IPL, but no such exemption is given for domestic cricketers, though a lot of them are eager to return.”

In the face of this kind of blatant exploitation of domestic talent by the BCCI, I, as a cricket fan, hope against hope that the BCCI’s IPL is a monstrous failure, that Russel Crowe and Shahrukh Khan’s investments get wiped out. Of course that’s not going to happen but what’s the harm in wishing for it.

The second reason I want ICL to succeed is that it provides opportunities for players especially from traditionally marginalized states to get noticed “internationally”. As an example, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala (whose joining ICL even after being selected for India A adequately reflects the frustration of many Ranji cricketers who know that their regional affiliation is a big impediment in their selection) has reportedly been noticed and offered the opportunity to migrate to England and become naturalized there.

Finally, a word for Ranadeb “57 wickets in 7 matches” Bose, who went to England, got to play 2 tour games (one in which he took 5/51 on a flat pitch) and has subsequently been dropped for the next series against Pakistan. If his name is not on the team to Australia, ICL may not be a bad option for him if only to get some tangible benefit out of his unrecognized talent.

Alternatively he can change his name to “Ajit Agarkar” and hope the BCCI makes a clerical mistake.

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46 thoughts on “The Pink-headed League

  1. Its catching on. The costumes may be an eyesore, the ground as dusty as Shivaji Park after Mayawati’s rally but it is working. With six international teams playing official matches at the moment, the attention paid to ICL is a victory in itself. And for once one gets to see good domestic talent on show. And believe me, they are good. And one feels happy to see these journeymen get some good treatment.

  2. If you cannot make someones life good atleast make it miserable

    Seems like BCCI Motto. Obviously BCCI hates competition because it knows it cannot survive competition.

  3. Dhananjay: I agree. A TRP of 1.0 isn’t too bad, considering India-Pak test match itself attracts only around 2. I have a Tata Sky connection and hence don’t get Zee Sports, but I caught half an hour of Hyderabad vs Mumbai game today and it was top class stuff. Pitch was excellent with good true bounce. Quite a contrast from the strip at Kolkatta. Good job, curator at Panchkula. Rakesh Patel was bowling with pretty decent pace, had Nicky Boje plumb in front, but wasn’t given – so even umpiring is on par with ICC standards. Aniruddh Singh for Hyderabad hit a couple of nice boundaries. Broadcast quality, especially audio, was very good. The nick which got Aniruddh out was heard so loud and clear – you hear it that clear only on channel 9 broadcasts from Australia.

    I don’t care whether ICL or IPL succeeds as long as one of them (or both combined) put an end to this monopoly of “nation vs nation” nonsense.

  4. I wish somebody organises this kind of a league for Football & it takes off. That would really set the cat among the pigeons(read Sharad Pawar & that a**’ole Das Munshi).

  5. Arnab, cogent post as usual.

    We should get the MRTPC to wield its jurisdiction on the BCCI as well.

    Btw, a post on the pathetic state of Kolkata football would be apt as well, knowing though you’re the cricket-enthusiastic type.

    Look at the Kolkata “Giants.” You’d realize what I’m alluding to. Some other place and time, may be…

  6. Arnab,
    I dont agree with your views. Firstly if you look at majority of the players that have signed up with ICL, you’ll realize that most of them did not stand any chance of making a comeback into the national side(JP yadav, Rakesh Patel, Dinesh Mongia, Sharandeep Singh and list goes on). So its clear that they’ve signed uo with ICL not to improve their game but just to make some quick buck before their respective careers enter their twilight. let me makeit clear here that i have no problems with anyone making money. But the pretext on which ICL came into existence(to give fresh talent to the country) is false. Afterall they picked some noticable faces from Ranji circuit itself, and have not comeup with any plans to find virgin talent. let me again iterate that this does not make IPL a genuine talent nurturing league.

    Secondly about the two players that you have mentioned, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala and Ranadeb Bose, all i can say about them is that they simply have to keep performing at domestic level and their India A tours and wait for their chance. And i dont see any controversy in that. A player of the calibre of Yuvraj Singh has been made to sit out from the test squad and those who were pelting the selection comittee and cricket management for this have been made to eat their words by the people who have retained their places(Laxman).
    And in the bowling department, although i agree that Munaf Patel is no replacement for RP singh, but just look at the bowling line up.

    Once RP(who was brilliant in england) and Sreesanth(who has a lot of promise) het fit, where do you place Ranadeb Bose? Even Irfan Pathan is making a lot of inroads in domestic cricket nowadays. Moreover if you go with 2 spinners, you just play 2 seamers. That makes it all more difficult for all of the present set of bowlers to find a place in playing eleven.

    If Ranadeb and Abhishek want to join ICL, they are free but bitching BCCI for their not making to national side is not correct. A player like Michael Hussey made his debut after scoring 15000 runs in domestic cricket.

    So i take your point that BCCI acts like a bully and doesnot treat its fromer cricketers well, and have done too little, too late for domestic cricket, but ICL is not about doing all these things.

    PS: Domestic cricketers are not payed 25000 per year. Its a per match basis payment for them, which from this year has been amde equitable across all associations.

  7. @Rishi: Neither was I.

    @Dhananjay: Yes I am happy too to see them being treated like professionals.

    @100Rabh: Indeed.

    @Annon: That would be the best way forward.

    @Mohan: “nation vs nation” nonsense. Yes we have heard that from you, many times here, havent we?

    @Vivek4mJH: Didnt Zee try to do something similar for football also a few years ago—remember seeing ads when I was in India..

    @Mithun: Kolkata football—gave up on that a long time ago.

    @Ramrajvi:

    First of all the Cricinfo article that I linked to says:

    A domestic veteran talks about a prominent state association. “They made a big din about introducing central contracts for players,” he says. “Finally, we said, we’ve got some security. And they give us an annual contract of Rs 25,000 [US$ 500 approximately]. Is that any sort of money for a year?”

    This is what I based that on. If it is per match it is even more unfair as players who sustain injuries are left incomeless.And as we see the Board doesnt always pay for their treatment.

    Now as to Ranadeb Bose. Let’s see– we have Munaf Patel bowling at Eden as we speak. Kumble gave him a very brief spell on the 4th day morning session (as of writing he has been the most benign of all the Indian bowlers) because he had little effect on the previous days. With RP Singh and everyone else injured, why was Patel called in and not say Bose? Why take Bose along on a tour to England, have him perform well in the tour matches, and then not pick him even when a vacancy was there?

    And as to players who got selected for ODIs in the last few years I recall names like Venugopal Rao, JP Yadav etc who got chances simply because of good performances in Ranji. Then how come a man who takes a phenomenal 57 in 7 is not even considered for any level of the game while a certain Mr. Agarkar is persisted in every other series?

    The BCCI treats its contracted players (not the superstars of course) like shit (just reading what Rajiv Shukla said kind of puts the respect the administration has for the players in perspective). ICL, because it is new, is treating every player with respect and providing them with a great support staff—something that the BCCI can easily afford but chooses not to provide.

    And that’s what everyone appreciates.

    @Shravan: That was an attempt at humor.

  8. “Alternatively he can change his name to “Ajit Agarkar” and hope the BCCI makes a clerical mistake.”
    Too gud 🙂
    Though it will take time to recognized and be attached to different teams like DJ etc. in ICL, I do hope ICL succeed in times to come. And hopefully we have such alternatives for other sports too.

  9. another BCCI plenipotentiary act:

    1. we are transparent, we will advertise for post of cricket coach.

    2. select person who did not apply.

    i stumbled upon STAR ANANDO’s post match summary on day 2 of the eden test, that included Sambaran Banerjee (most noted for getting Sourav his second break) and some other usual over-learned bengali fundamentalist (we turn them by the kilogram, dont we?).

    the large part of the discussion revolved on whether Prasun Mukherjee made use of his meeting the top brass of the BCCI to lobby hard enough for Ranadeb Bose’s inclusion (given the fact that munaf patel is as usual in his own world and both r.p. singh and sreesanth are giving fitness tests).

    they also let loose on the ‘marathi lobby’ with hilariously politically incorrect and inconvenient facts that even Sidhu wouldn’t raise. (rajput lalchand’s place in the team is now more secure than sourab’s)

    This was regionalism at its best. after all it was a regional channel.
    something you never get to watch on mainstream tv.

    i just wish i knew more languages to know what other parts of the country thought about cricket.

  10. @Greatbong – “With RP Singh and everyone else injured, why was Patel called in and not say Bose? Why take Bose along on a tour to England, have him perform well in the tour matches, and then not pick him even when a vacancy was there?”

    Answer is simple…. Patel and Agarkar belong to West Zone which is the favoured zone. Case in point the last Challenger Series. Out of the 42 selected, 14 belonged to West Zone. Out of them 7 were such that their names could not be recollected by any Mumbai/West Zone supporter like myself. At the same time some 5 yearsago, one could count on his finger the number of West Zone players selected. At the time the board was West heavy, you see.What is happening to Rayadu, Jhunjhunwala, Bose and Tiwary has happened to Muzumdar, Kuruvilla, Surendra Bhave, Paras Mhambrey and Iqbal Siddique. Some were eventually picked but that was when they were past their prime. It broke my heart seeing Kuruvilla bowl at medium pace in international matches knowing that if the chance was given five years ago, he would have bowled at 90+ miles putting fear in batsmens’ hearts like he used to while bowling on dustbowls in Ranji matches.

    A rising star like Rayadu and Jhunjhunwala getting out of the BCCI system is just the start. If ICL guarantees the players’ future, players like Bose and Tiwary should show the BCCI the middle finger and show their worth through their absence from the domestic scene.

  11. I too hope that the ICL does well. But the BCCI is just too powerful. Bastards!

    As for Ranadeb Bose, his chances look poor this time as well (of course, with BCCI, you never know). Ajit Agarkar has a very good record down under.

  12. I so agree with u GB. why r politicians controling cricket like its their baap ki jaagir? why isn’t the government divesting itself from cricket; why isnt the govt taking steps so that a thousand ICLs bloom; why shouldn’t shareholders of Zee make money rather than scumbags like Pawar and rajeev shukla who sports the look of a raja presiding over his praja at VVIP galleries at match venues.

  13. Whether or not ICL fares well, I trust the courts. I think ICL will score a couple of great legal victories against BCCI and lead to overall decentralization of the game.

  14. @sriram….

    why isn’t the government divesting itself from cricket;

    actually, govt is never involved in BCCI. BCCI is a private entity, not a govt entity. Its not even a national team, according to court rulings.

  15. Touche, GB, touche. That last line = the whole post. Seriously. 🙂
    On a related note, have you checked out the ad for the ICL ‘Chennai Superstars’? It’s one of the best executed and thought out ads I’ve seen in a long time. It’s up on youtube… do look it up, if you haven’t already…

  16. The way I look at it, GB is that in India there are serious followers of cricket who sincerely follow careers of Ambati Rayadu or Abhishek Jhunjhunwala. Your blog is most certainly a platform for sporting discourses of such informed people. But cricket as we know it is a game of TRP and ad revenues, which peak out when our friendly neighborhood street people watch a crunch match on shop fronts. People who won’t know their googlies from their doosras. This I attribute largely to the “nation vs nation nonsense”. There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that BCCI is an evil organization who want to hold on to their moolah. They perceive a threat from ICL just because 20-20 has proved to be such a popular format and the ICC restrictions don’t allow them to hold more of these.Frankly I don’t foresee either ICL or IPL getting any kind of success in near future. And if they are not profit-winning business propositions all this nice treatment to their cricketers along with a specialist masseuse a la Heidi Hill will have to vanish in thin air.

  17. “as benign as the Red Cross”

    Be careful with that one, Arnab 😉

    Ranadeb Bose (saw him bowling against Mumbai in the Ranji trophy last year. He is good, but just about as good as Pravin Kumar and Ishant Sharma, and definitely not better than RPS or Sree Santh. Any of those are better than a half-fit Munaf Patel though.

    I echo your sentiments on the ICL. I’m no fan of the Zee group, but I want the BCCI to eat some crap. Their greed and ineptness has resulted in only four days between the end of the third test versus Pakistan and the first tour game in Aus, and even worse we’re playing just that one practice match before we’re tossed into the lion’s den at the MCG on Boxing Day, four days after that.

    Now the great (insert rolling eyes here) colonel will now be resigning from the selection committee. The circus continues to involuntarily entertain.

  18. @Arnab

    Bose had no doubt had a phenomenal first class season last year. He should have been picked for Eden Gradens.

    But sadly the thinking of the team management is that he is a yard short of international pace, with a top speed of around 125 kmph . Certainly not enough by any standards. Look at bowlers at his pace world-wide . None of them is capable of a match-winning performance unless the wcket is aiding seam bowling. Bose is just a touch quicker than Ganguly. The biggest positive Bose brings is unquestioned effort and commitment.

    Secondly just recently in a first class match for Maharashtra, Munaf produced a match-winning 5 wicket spell . Also produced a 5 wicket haul for rest of india against mumbai. DBV was present for either game and must have seen some venom in his bowling to pick him up.

    I dont think Bose can challenge Sreesanth or RP at the moment, But yeah when either aint fit, he should be given a chance ahead of Munaf or Pathan.

  19. I don’t follow Cricket much but I am wondering why you only mentioned Abishek and Ranadeb Bose “Bad Hair”? I guess for the same reason, selectors prefer players from their regions.

  20. Good call, down to the Agarkar jab.
    But isn’t the ICL or IPL just overkill though?
    Why not invest the same efforts into soccer or try and revive the great field hockey tradition. If there’s money to invest and media exposure available, there are other sports that have an audience just waiting to be snagged.
    Continuing to invest into an oversaturated market isn’t just bad business sense, its a waste.

  21. Hi GB,
    Couldn’t help notice the vast difference in the number & content of responses you got for your blogs on ‘nandigram’ & ‘ICL-IPL – cricket’. On another site, blogospheric hooliganism would have been let loose resulting in virtual bloodshed I’m sure. In comparison to such mayhem seen in neighborhood cafe arguments on cricket, the meek nay wimpy ‘suggesstions’ & ‘comments’ on RTDM make your blog look like a kindergarten party.

    Not a criticism, just an observation all meaning that your readers must mostly comprise of blue collar types or even worse – GOLF enthusisiasts! Be careful. During a flesh & blood fight these are the ones who desert the ship!

    Care

  22. @Swati,

    you said

    how many of you anti-bcci are ready to spend money to buy a ticket to the pink-pyjama-brigade matches?

    You really think the ICL is betting on stadium revenues? Don’t you think they would have chosen a more viable venue in that case?

    The ICL is betting on television revenue ONLY. So I AM doing my ‘duty’ by watching the matches.
    I’m putting my time(money) where my mouth is. 😉

  23. I haven’t followed much of the crap in this regard… just knw one stuff.. and dats teh BCCI is a bunch of no gooders…. i mean, an organisation for cricket is meant to be guided by cricketers and not politicians.. how on earth do dey get to preside in its offices…. absolutely flummoxing for me…

  24. @wanderer
    yes, you ARE right.
    i had to buy the neo sports package on tata-sky ‘cos they are showing the bcci cricket matches.
    wonder if my worse half will spend extra money to watch the pink-pyjama-league?!?

  25. GB,
    One more dig at Agarkar…lol. FFS stop slagging him when he is not even in first XI of national team. I agree Bose shouldnt have been overlooked given his exceptional season in 06-07. But Guru Greg had all together different plans. I’m not saying Agarkar had been the legendary bowler. But he had been brilliant in patches. May be thats why he was not always the 1st bowler on team selection list during every selection meeting. His only weakness is his economy rate which is nothing but shambolic. Just dont slag him off because Bengal’s bowler was not selected in last 11. And we all know how big name can make an impact in team selection. In case of Agarkar, 50 fastest wickets gave him reputation. Afterall past decade in Indian cricket has been all about reputation. Azhar was almost thrown out of team before he suddenly decided to jump on the gun. Then Sourav Da was on the same ship but Guru Greg made a mess of situation. Viru followed the path of his leaders and played almost for year on reputation.

    On a funny note, I fail to understand why you bongies hate mumbai players so much. Mumbai unlike Bengal has glorious tradition of making world class players. Mumbai players were/are/will be part of team not because of name Mumbai but their hardwork on pitch. BTW arent we talking about national team?
    LOL.

  26. I am actually interested to know what the court will have to say on this legal issue of blatant monopoly ….any ideas who the lawyers are ….I hope Chandra get a good one like a Jethmalani or a Salve …..

    One has to agree however that the quality of the ICL has been nowhere near the ICC Twenty20 standard …. but I would give them another year or so before I pass a judgement

  27. Pingback: 2007-A numbskulling story ! - Episode I: The Bollywood Menace « The Chronicles of being BONGO !

  28. Arnab,
    Mark my words. Agarkar will be back!

    He has a guardian angel up there somewhere who injures his rivals so that he can get back time after time, regardless of the fact that Ajitbhau has the worst bowling average in modern time after Sami…

    …sigh…

  29. Hello,

    I can understand the frustation of the player who arent selected for the international cricket, but what will BBCI do?
    Should they experiment in important games. I disagree.

    As far as the players, greatbong or some others on this blog mentioned are not at all an international class. you are talking about Ranadeb bose…..I bet if they are given the chance to play international cricket and in crucial games they will prove their incapablities and their reason for deselection from the international squad.

    the team needs a faster bowler, a quick bowler not some one who just swings between 120 to 130 kph not more than that. I have been watching ranjis and so many domestic matches, but honestly i never found any bowler who is a sheer talent. Those who were are there in the team like murali karthik or harbhajan.

    What say?

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