What's wrong with having two Indians at ICC?

2008 Mar 22 by

As soon as Mr. Bindra's name was announced, there were a flurry of articles in England and Australia that giving him the job would put too much power in India's hands, as Mr. Pawar was going to be President of the ICC in 2010.

A few days before the recent meeting of the ICC Executive Board in Dubai, the names of the two candidates to replace Malcolm Speed as the Chief Executive Officer of the ICC were announced. Mr. I. S. Bindra, former President of the Board of Control in India, and Mr. Imtiaz Patel, currently the CEO of the Supersports TV channel in South Africa, were the contenders shortlisted for the post. As soon as Mr. Bindra's name was announced, there were a flurry of articles in England and Australia that giving him the job would put too much power in India's hands, as Mr. Pawar was going to be President of the ICC in 2010.

The ICC CEO was to be given a three-year contract, which could be renewed of course, but it was only in the final year of his contract that there could have been two Indians at the helm of the ICC. Those worried of the prospect of India's hegemony were conveniently forgetting that only a few years back, there were two Australians at the top of the ICC. Malcolm Gray as President and Malcolm Speed as the CEO, but there were no fears about Australia ruling the game then. Why is it that these writers have no qualms about similar situations when it concerns their own countrymen, but are quick to raise a hue and cry when it is from India or the sub-continent?

Once again, it is misplaced belief that they are the only ones with honesty, integrity and have the welfare of the game at heart, while the 'subcontinentals' do not. Every controversy in international cricket has shown that no country has the monopoly on honesty and integrity, and so should not be looking down upon others. Still, it is a habit that is hard to get over, and so it is anathema to think that those who were the ruled can one day become the rulers. It is this supercilious and condescending attitude that is hard to understand at time when the world even thought it is still round more even than ever before.

Gone are the days when two countries, England and Australia, had the veto power in international cricket, even though the dinosaurs, still trying to voice their prejudiced opinions in the media, may not open their eyes and see the reality.

The cricketing world has found that India has no longer a diffident voice in the international cricketing community, but a confident one that knows what is good for its cricket, and will strive to get it. What may have worried these people was the manner in which India defended its player Harbhajan Singh on the 'racist' allegation made against him. India was insistent that Harbhajan had not said anything racist, and when all the technology in the world was unable to prove that he had indeed said anything, these guys, especially those in Australia, having got so used to getting it their way, were unable to stomach it. They kept referring to India's threat of calling off the tour, completely ignoring the statement of Mr. Pawar where he categorically stated that there was no question of calling off the tour. Yes, there were some other BCCI members who were aggressive, but it was the President who had been authorized to take the final decision, and when he made it clear that there was no threat to the continuation of the tour, that should have been that. So, to ignore that and project others from the BCCI as bullies and thus create that kind of image of BCCI suited the particular newspaper, which even now refuses to accept that its players could be mistaken, despite Justice Hansen's judgement.

Talking of bullying, one wonders what the reaction of these people would be to the threat of the Federation of International Hockey to take away the 2010 World Cup Hockey from India, unless India totally accepts project ‘Promoting Indian Hockey' that was being proposed by the FIH. How and why should the staging of the World Cup be linked to a development project is hard to understand, but that kind of bullying does not raise any comment from these guys, presumably because it is coming from Europeans, while the BCCI standing behind its player who was wrongly and falsely accused of racist comment is looked as strong-arm tactics. Wow!

The hockey scenario that is unfolding is also an indicator of how people from overseas look upon India to get some easy dough. Its not just in cricket, where the IPL coaches have been signed from all over the world for what presumably are lucrative fees. A Twenty20 game is such a fast-paced one that there is very little room for any tactics, and so a coach is really not needed. What is definitely required is a physical trainer, because the nature of the format makes physical fitness so important, and also a top-class fielding coach who can make a difference to the fielding standards, where every run matters and matches are won or lost by the odd run or two. The IPL has been a golden opportunity for these smooth-talkers to come and earn some easy money, and if their teams don't do well, it will be explained in a smooth way as well.

Coming back to hockey, it is apparent that Ric Charleworth has set his eyes on becoming the coach of the senior team. Joaquim Carvalho worked only for about 11 months with pretty good results till that one bad game in Santiago. Charlesworth, as Technical Consultant, will get many times more than what Carvalho got, and with more technical support as well. If he is really keen to do something for Indian hockey, he should accept the challenge of working at Carvalho's salary and showing results by getting India the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. If he does achieve that then he should be given the balance of the fees he was promised when he came for the job.

For far too long have we in India been given promises of taking our sporting teams to the top by coaches, who then scoot away without even a kind word to say about the country that gave them so much and got so little in return.