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Gundappa Vishwanath deserves to be President of KSCA
by Sunil Gavaskar
Aug 25, 2007
Whenever the foreign media writes about Indian cricket, there is the inevitable reference to the politics in the sport. It is as if there is no politics in their sport at all, but if one goes by the latest turn in the election of the person to replace David Morgan as the Chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board [ECB], then it will be seen that in any organization, especially a sporting one, there will invariably be politics and groupism.

The extent of it may vary, but make no mistake, its there. There is a tendency to blame developing countries with having more of it than the developed ones, and that’s simply because, unlike the latter countries who have learnt the fine art of smiling even as they are stabbing others in the back, the developing ones do it in an open manner. Now that there has been a tie for the post of Morgan’s successor, there are talks of another person throwing his hat in the ring, and that should make it even more interesting. There is one candidate who is disliked by many, because he was the one under whom the ECB decided to give the TV rights to Sky, a satellite channel, and thus denied the terrestrial viewers live cricket, though they could see the highlights on terrestrial channels.

Unlike in India, where the cable charges vary from event to event and viewers still make the budgetary adjustment, in the UK, even a minor hike means that viewers would rather go to a pub to watch a sport on a satellite channel, than have it at home. The most affected are the elderly, as they are often confined to their homes, and so feel deprived of watching their favourite sport. There is of course BBC radio, which is often switched on and the TV kept on ‘silent’ mode, so that they can enjoy the banter and leg-pulling that is so much a part of the ‘Test Match Special’ commentary, an institution in the British way of life.

The latest drama over the election of the new Chairman will be played out in September, and it is quite amazing how many former England players have voiced their opinion in favour of or against a candidate. There has also been the Schofield Report, where a committee of some former players and administrators went into the ills of English cricket and suggested ways of improving it. According to those who follow the English game, it was pretty much old wine in a new bottle. So, till England start to win consistently, there will continue to be calls to make English cricket better.

Talking of elections, there are some state elections coming up, and the one that will be watched keenly will be those of the Karnataka State Cricket Association. The result of the same will tell you whether the voters want those who have played cricket at the highest level to run the game in their state, or those who profess to be interested in the game but are actually there only for the increased profile that it will bring. So, if Gundappa Vishwanath doesn’t become the president of the KSCA and his opponent who has never probably held a bat in his life wins, then that will be a good indication of what those who run grassroots cricket want.

If there is one association that has been renowned for the way it appreciates and administers cricket, it is Karnataka, and over the years, it has given many greats and match-winners to Indian cricket, with Gundappa Vishwanath being very near the top, if not at the very top. Its been a pleasure to play at the KSCA ground, because of the facilities as well as the crowd’s genuine appreciation of good cricket, irrespective of whether its from the home team or visiting team. It is this that differentiates the KSCA spectators from other crowds in the country, so how that translates into who they entrust to run the game in their state will be watched with great interest.

And before anybody says that am writing this because Vishy is my brother-in-law, let me assure them that he was India’s best batsman before he became my brother-in-law, and his knowledge of the game is second to none. I would have said the same thing even if he wasn’t related to me.

The Indian cricket team has been on the road for a long, long time, and is getting to the stage where homesickness takes over and the players begin to count the days to go home. For those who are in the Indian Twenty20 team for the World Cup in South Africa, it will be another month before they come back to their homes and loved ones. Hopefully, they will be able to stave off this feeling for that time, and make sure that the one-day series is won as well, for otherwise it would undo all the hard work put in to win the Test series. There are some fresh faces in the one-day side, and they should bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the team, and stop the jaded feeling from taking over and making players simply go through the motions on the field.

That some of the seniors have pulled out of the Twenty20 event is a smart move, for it will give them the break from the intensity needed to play at this level, as well as rest tired limbs and niggles that are part of becoming an elder statesman in the team. A blend of youth and experience is the recipe for a good team, and at the moment, the Indian team has it right.

 
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