Indian cricket’s new power centres

Gujarat defeated defending champion Mumbai in last year’s Ranji Trophy final and this time Vidarbha beat Delhi, who have won the national championship many times in the past.

Like Gujarat’s show last year, this was a team performance by Vidarbha.   -  R. V. Moorthy

Wonderful things are happening in Indian cricket. Gujarat broke the glass ceiling last year by winning the Ranji Trophy for the first time and this year it was Vidarbha who put their name on the coveted trophy. This is nothing but great news for Indian cricket. It shows that talent is getting evenly distributed all across the country and not just in the metros, who used to dominate the national championships in earlier years. BCCI and the TV rights holders need to be congratulated for getting the coverage across in various languages. This has helped spread the game far and wide and is giving Indian cricket some of the brightest stars in its history. Yes, because of the international season the Ranji Trophy league phase wasn’t covered but the knock-out stage got great exposure and it was clear that many players raised their game knowing that they were on national and international television.

Like Gujarat’s show last year, this was a team performance by Vidarbha. Their nail-biting win in the semifinals by just five runs was an indicator that they were up for the challenge and that the team was not going to fall down easily. Gujarat beat the defending champion Mumbai in last year’s final and Vidarbha beat Delhi, who have won the Ranji Trophy many times in the past. That makes their triumph all the more special.

When Mumbai, in their infinite wisdom, sacked Chandrakant Pandit as the coach, Vidarbha jumped in and gave him the job to coach their team. Pandit was a street smart cricketer, who never took a backward step while playing. He brings that same savvy to his coaching and while some may not agree with his methods, there is no doubt that he has that priceless ability to lift ordinary players and forge a bond within the team.

Chandrakant Pandit, the erstwhile Mumbai coach, went on to clinch the Ranji Trophy with a less-fancied team. Photo: Vivek Bendre

 

Players are accountable for their performances and can be dropped if they are not up to it. Similarly, coaches can be fired at the whims and fancies of the administrators, but what about accountability for those administrators whose decisions cost the team dear? Is anybody going to ask the Mumbai committee that sacked Pandit as to why they should not suffer the same fate now that Pandit has gone and won the Ranji Trophy with a less fancied team?

The Cricket Improvement Committee (CIC) set up by Sharad Pawar is a terrific idea but unless it’s a totally independent committee with no members from the MCA Managing Committee in it, it will never be able to take calls that are purely in the interest of Mumbai cricket. The Managing Committee has its own jobs, but if the idea behind the Cricket Improvement Committee was to take decisions only on cricketing matters then that gets diluted by having some Managing Committee members, even if they have played first-class or international cricket, in it. Those members will invariably argue and politicise the decisions taken by the CIC.

Just like the CAC of the BCCI, which only has three of India’s greatest cricketing names and brains and nobody else, so also for any CIC to be effective they must be allowed to take cricketing calls based on their experience and knowledge without looking around the meeting room to see what the reactions of the Managing Committee members are to their decisions.

Likes and dislikes are part of human nature and not much can be done about that but when those come in the way of good cricketing decisions then those taking the calls must make way for others, who hopefully will not bring their own agendas while taking decisions that affect the team’s performance.