Cricket changing for the better

Today, with more focus on the game, and the need to be seen as being accountable has definitely brought more professionalism into cricket. No longer can a player or an administrator get away by doing anything that is detrimental to the game. The parameters have been set, and standards have to be met, which is a good thing, indeed.

Captain Virat Kohli and team-mates at a practice session at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur, ahead of the fifth and final ODI against Australia. the manner in which the Indian team is performing today is in no small measure due to the training they get and the guidance they receive from the support staff, writes the columnist.   -  Vivek Bendre

Slowly but surely greater professionalism is coming into Indian cricket. During the time we played, there was plenty of scope for improvement, and barring a few associations the attitude of others was casual, to say the least. So was the case with some of the players who just wanted the thrill of being India players without the corresponding effort to be deserving of the India colours.

Accountability was something that was, more often than not, absent — be it a player or an administrator. Make no mistake, there were some terrific administrators who cared deeply for the game and wanted to make a difference; and there were some absolute legends who strove mightily to make a winning contribution to the team. They took great pride in representing the country and taking it forward.

Today, with more focus on the game — on and off the field — and the need to be seen as being accountable has definitely brought more professionalism into cricket. No longer can a player or an administrator get away by doing anything that is detrimental to the game. The parameters have been set, and standards have to be met, which is a good thing, indeed.

The manner in which the Indian team is performing today is in no small measure due to the training they get and the guidance they receive from the support staff.

The support staff are thorough professionals who know their jobs and are unwavering and unflinching in their objective of making this Indian team the best it can be. This is not just on the field responsibility, but also off the field, where the players are taught the dos and don’ts that will ensure that they are best prepared to take the field. Today the players travel by a special chartered flight, which means both teams can travel without bothering about the timing etc. that comes with a regular commercial flight. The players are left to themselves and can relax for the couple of hours that the flight takes to go from one centre to the other.

This is such an important aspect, for with the advent of the social media there is little or no privacy for the international player. With there being no law that guarantees an individual privacy and prevents anybody from taking his pictures and videos, the players can sometimes get into a situation where, unknown to them, people can shoot pictures of them doing normal, everyday things that young people do. But the players could get into trouble when someone puts these pictures on the social media. So, a simple prank among players can look bad if its context is not given.

That is why the BCCI’s decision to charter special flights for the players is a great one. There are some sectors where there is no direct flight, so a chartered flight is a great way to reach the destination without getting in and out of planes or waiting for a connecting flight.

The hotels too are top class with training facilities for the players where they can limber up for the game the next day.

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The one aspect that was a big problem during the old days was the complimentary tickets that each player got, and more so about where the players’ families would be accommodated at the ground. The BCCI has a special box at each venue where its invitees, stakeholders, and sometimes former players and officials sit. The players’ families can also sit here and watch the game. There is also a special enclosure for the BCCI President which is a bit smaller than the BCCI box, but still can accommodate the key stakeholders. How many tickets a player gets nowadays is not known, but at least his family is taken care of at most, if not all, venues. This takes a big load off the player’s mind and he doesn’t have to worry about his family getting good, comfortable seats as well as refreshments.

The media boxes too are quite spacious at most of the venues, especially for the print media where more than 100 reporters can sit and write their match reports quite comfortably. Most of the stadia were conceived, planned and built before the electronic media revolution. Now with commentary in many languages, it is virtually impossible for the electronic media to get good vantage positions from where they can do their job.

Ideally for the TV, the commentary boxes should be right above the sight-screen from where the view is clear, but that is rare as most of those boxes are given to the BCCI or the President of the local association. Most of the time, the TV guys have to stand up and look for the corner end of the ground because from where they are sitting they can only see a part of the ground.

For Test matches, most of the VIP boxes are empty. These can be handed to the TV guys so that they will get an unhindered view of the action on the field. A lot of stadiums are undergoing renovation, and one hopes that thought will be given to the guys who bring the pictures to the monitors in the households. After all, live pictures generate the biggest revenue for the BCCI.