India, Get Your Act Together!

The aggressive and confrontational stance Indian chief Jagmohan Dalmiya has taken has plunged Indiasí first test with England into uncertainty and jeopardy. India play aggressive cricket, but against South Africa recently they simply went too far. Regardless of whether the punishment handed out by Mike Denness was fair or not, it should have been accepted and left in the past. A formal complaint to the International Cricket Council should have been the next logical step, but by responding in the way they did, the Indian hierarchy has turned their third Ďtestí against South Africa into a farce and subjected Indian cricketers to scorn from around the world.

The men who have power in Indian cricket are quick to pounce on any perceived injustice against them, but slow to criticise one of their own. One of the most shameful elements in this affair is the fact, Sachin Tendulkar has been found guilty of ball tampering, and the further fact this has been lost in the subsequent sandstorm brewed by the Indian authorities. Instead of turning on the God of Indian cricket, and heaven forbid, handing him any form of punishment themselves, India instead launched a tirade of insults against the match referee Mike Denness.

The television pictures of Tendulkar fiddling with the seam of a cricket ball were suggestive to say the very least. Tendulkar has been found guilty, and yet this has been swept under the carpet as the Indian authorities rally against the rest of the cricketing world, complaining to anyone who will listen. Tendulkarís reputation remains intact, a God in his homeland, a mere cricketing legend elsewhere. This seems faintly ridiculous given Mike Athertonís treatment after his brush with ball tampering. From being the saviour of English cricket, he was reduced to a villain, vilified and mocked by the press and public, and his own authorities. Atherton had to painstakingly rebuild his reputation, while Tendulkar has been able to step away from his crime unpunished. India will back this man all the way, impressive loyalty, but in this case misguided.

The Indian cricket team play hard, and I have nothing but admiration for the style and flair they bring to the game. But, they cross the line too often, and they must appoint a new captain who can rein in his players and toe the line himself. Sourav Ganguly is ruled by his heart over his head, and the Indian cricket team needs a more diplomatic figurehead.

Jagmohan Dalmiya needs to curb his tendency to kick up a fuss and learn to solve problems behind closed doors. Running to the press screaming injustice, simply doesnít work. If he does not back down over the Virender Sehwag eligibility row, then any match in which the banned player participates in must be rendered unofficial. The International Cricket Council must continue to overrule Dalmiya until he realises that the ICC arbitrates all the cricketing nations, not just those who accept their rulings. Indiaís passion is excellent for the game, but cooler heads are needed if the current situation is to be solved.

© Robert Field


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