World Cricket: The ICC has lost its mind and Tendulkar should tell it to bugger off

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May 28, 2015

Mumbai: In a not so distant future, two teams will walk down the stairs of their building and get all set to play a gully cricket match, probably 10 overs a side, if you break the window panes you are out, if the ball hits the wall on the full, it counts for a six. People will prepare for the game by bringing out the snacks and the perfect sledging vocabulary.

May 28, 2015

Mumbai: In a not so distant future, two teams will walk down the stairs of their building and get all set to play a gully cricket match, probably 10 overs a side, if you break the window panes you are out, if the ball hits the wall on the full, it counts for a six. People will prepare for the game by bringing out the snacks and the perfect sledging vocabulary.

But before the game can start, the smartphones of all those participating in the game will start buzzing and a voice at the other end will ask: 'Do you have the ICC's permission to play the match?'

The ICC does all it can to defend the sport against any attempt to give power back to the real stakeholders – the people and perhaps that it why the stars of today need to stand up and fight for their rights.

It may sound slightly ridiculous to say that Sachin Tendulkar – yes, the same mighty Indian superstar, record-breaker, record-holder, demi-god and all that blah – is scared of the ICC but the truth doesn't recognize legend; it just recognizes the truth.

He has never been much of an anti-establishment figure and that remained true throughout his career. Even his autobiography went along with the script. But now, as he gets set to launch a Legends T20 matches, promoted in conjunction with Shane Warne to make inroads into the untapped US market – he is finding that the ICC may have an issue with the league unless they all line-up and pay obeisance.

In a recent International Cricket Council meeting in Mumbai, it was decreed that any match involving present or former players in any cricket-playing country – Test playing or associate – needs the formal blessing of the ICC.

Read that again: the formal blessing of the ICC for a legends league featuring retired cricketers. It is one thing to do it for current cricketers and quite another to demand that even ex-cricketers come asking for permission.

What next? Gully cricket?

Tendulkar may go ahead and ask for permission and get it too. But honestly, no one should stand for this bullshit; what retired cricketers do in their free time should not be the ICC's business especially when all they are planning is a legends league that will play 'unofficial' matches in the United States – a market that the ICC has failed to crack despite its best efforts.

"At this point the ICC has received no communication on the proposed T20 league. There is a process in place with regard to events such as this and the ICC will deal with it once it is approached," an ICC spokesman told PTI.

In an interview to The Telegraph, former Australian skipper Mark Taylor said, "The proposed league may not be that bad a thing, but its better to grow as a group rather than in factions."

But that isn't the message the ICC is sending. Rather the message – you either grow with us or not at all – almost borders on being an unfair business practice.

If they don't ask for permission, then the ICC, which is now run by N Srinivasan, could simply declare all these players to be outcasts who will not be allowed to give commentary, be eligible for pension or even coach an official team. We all remember what happened to Kapil Dev when he decided to side with the now-defunct Indian Cricket League and most of the ex-cricketers probably remember that as well. This is arm-twisting in mildest yet potentially most dangerous form.

According to reports, it has been learnt that around 28 retired cricketers will be approached for the matches which will be mainly held in the US cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles with the first set of matches being tentatively planned during end August or early September this year.

It won't replace baseball or the NFL but there's room for minority sports in the United States. And a legends league will anyway cater to fans of all these players. The cricket will be all about fans coming to see the players they have always wanted to watch all their lives but couldn't. It will not threaten the ICC's plans for cricket in the US, rather it will only supplement them.

Still, it has been learnt that even the likes of Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman will only sign in dotted lines after getting permission from the BCCI. And that is rather sad. Not just sad, it is shameful that all these 'greats' will just bow their heads and agree to such a suggestion. This is their failure as much as it is the ICC's failure to understand one simple fact:

For cricket to survive, it needs to welcome more member nations. So whether the preaching is being done by the ICC or by someone else shouldn't even matter as long as more fans are converted to cricket's cause.


Courtesy: Firstpost

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