You gotta love the burra-sahibs at the ICC. Recently, following an article in the TOI I had a chance to look at their Hall of Fame (evidently only people who retired before 1995 being eligible for consideration) and their Hall contains twenty-two Englishmen, eleven Australian and fourteen West Indians and yes only three each of Indian and Pakistani players.
Not that ICC’s Hall of Fame matters a rat’s ass but it’s funny to see the “revenge” of the bura-sahibs who seek to bury their own obsolescence and the loss of colonial power (ever since the English and the Australians lost their veto power in the ICC) with a Hall of Fame that is so “oh those were the good days” nostalgic and so laughably biased that it isn’t funny.
Not that I do not understand the colonial angst. In a perfect world, cricket would be still be a game played by old chaps over a cup of tea and polite conversation and thoughts of the Queen while the brown natives would stand around holding the umbrella and the gin and the tonic, with their participation in the game being limited to fetching the ball from the boundary or fielding when a sahib got a “touch of the sun”.
Instead what do they have?
They have IPL, screaming crowds of thousands of sweaty “white man’s burdens”, humiliating defeats at the hands of the natives and worst of all, a total financial dependence on the old slaves to sustain the game. Everytime Michael Atherton or any of the British/Australian old fogeys abuse T20 and rue India’s influence in world cricket and tell us that the Ashes still remain the pinnacle of cricketing passion one is reminded of a fox and a bunch of grapes.
Coming to the Hall of Fame. Let us take the example of an inductee. Derek Underwood. An old chappie. In 86 Tests he took 297 wickets at an average of 25.83. Now let us consider another spinner who played in the same era (since some claim cricketers in different eras should not be compared). Bhagwath Chandrasekhar. In 58 Tests (28 Tests fewer than Underwood), he took 242 wickets at an average of 29.74. Statistically, there isn’t a whole lot to choose between them. But Chandrasekhar does not make the list. And one wonders why considering that nothing prevented both of them from being in the Hall of Fame.
One could argue that cricket isn’t just about numbers but more about style and class. True. But then how do you explain why Graham Gooch, another “he’s a jolly good fellow and so say all of us”, whose batting could put a room full of insomniacs to sleep makes the list while Zaheer Abbas, one of the most attractive batsmen of his generation, does not. And oh, the numbers—-Gooch’s career average is 42.58 and Zaheer Abbas’s is 44.79.
There are other examples—- Englishman Tom Graveney scored 11 centuries in 79 matches at an average of 44. Mohinder Amarnath scored 11 centuries in 10 Tests less (69 matches) at 42.50. Only one of them however is in the Hall of Fame. One could ask why Vijay Merchant, who had the second highest first class average after Bradman and a Test average of 47.72, is not there as well as several other similar embarassing questions but I think you get the point.
I started off by saying that the Hall of Fame does not matter. Well let me clarify that. It may not matter to me or you or perhaps even to superstar billionaires like Dhoni and Sachin but I am sure for cricketers like BS Chandrasekhar and Mohinder Amarnath, who derived very little financial benefit from the game (unlike their modern counterparts), some kind of official recognition for their contribution to the game, would definitely mean a lot. And they do deserve it.
But then again, we jolly well know that despite many changes the ICC still remains, at its heart, an old boy’s colonial country club. So nothing unexpected here.