An open letter to Dalmiya

Published : Oct 27, 2001 00:00 IST

Dear Mr. Dalmiya,

THE open letter as a means of communication isn't always the nicest, especially since I have had the pleasure of knowing you well over the last few years. But the reason I am adopting this format is that I believe very strongly that I am a genuine stakeholder in Indian cricket and the issues I seek to address are those many others will identify with. To be honest, it was precipitated by the revelation, in the media back home, that you had written letters to John Wright and Andrew Leipus asking for an explanation of recent performances.

I don't think this has happened before in Indian cricket and if the objective is to seek accountability from key people, then it is welcome. Or, as Sunil Gavaskar said on our live telecast recently, if the objective is to get to know Wright and Leipus better, it is a step in the right direction. Having seen them on tour, and having interacted with them, I can say fairly confidently that they think deeply about the success of the Indian cricket team. That is not the most prevalent thought as you know.

As a stakeholder, as someone whose day acquires a fragrance when India do well, I would be delighted if you can extend this system of letters, and an insistence on accountability, to several important areas of Indian cricket; even if it means having to explain to a lot of people in our cricket what accountability means. Let me give you just a few examples.

1. A letter to all our state associations, a number that sadly increases instead of decreases, asking if their state teams have trained physiotherapists and trainers; and if they have access to high quality gyms. That is critical because unless our first class players embrace fitness by the age of 19, they cannot be fit at the age of 23. If you haven't studied enough mathematics at school, you cannot become a high quality engineer. We have no idea how many promising players we are losing because our state associations are doing little to help them with their fitness. The reason a lot of our youngsters are breaking down is because they have had virtually no fitness support as 19 and 20 year olds from their state associations. If they can be held accountable on this ground alone, Indian cricket will have a different look to it in a few years. If they had loved Indian cricket, and had seen where world cricket has gone, they would have done it already.

2. A letter to the programmes and fixtures committee asking them if they have any plans at all of organising a parallel system of international matches for the national 'A' team. I am sure you will realise that this is one of the most shocking and depressing aspects of our cricket. We need to organise 'A' team tours to places like Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England, not to Sri Lanka or Bangladesh.

It is a fantastic way of both, weeding out inadequate players and spotting the big-hearted ones. The complete insensitivity to this, the most obvious of all our needs, has baffled a lot of cricket lovers in India. It is here that the most damage is done and it is here that accountability is at its worst.

3. A letter to the pitches committee asking for a review of their activities over the last two years and a parallel investigation into whether state associations have prevented them from working. It is a well-proven act historically, that good pitches produce good cricketers. It is also a fact that good pitches require a lot of effort and commitment that we have not been too inclined to display.

4. A letter to all state associations who have cases in court against them for financial irregularities to come clean or quit. When the destination of the funds that cricket lovers in India bring to the game is unknown, when that money does not go to the game itself, it is difficult to see any progress.

There is one other letter a lot of cricket lovers would like to see; a letter from you addressed to all those who pay money to watch Indian cricket or those who contribute indirectly by watching it on television. A half page newspaper article would be the ideal route and I am sure every newspaper in India would be very happy to carry it. In it, we would like to see your dreams for Indian cricket and the plans you have in mind, to try and achieve that ideal. If you, at the head of Indian cricket, place the responsibility of accountability on yourself, then the lesser powers will have no choice but to follow.

That is what all successful chief executives do and it is possible; Chandrababu Naidu has shown that even with a traditionally slow-moving bureaucracy that was often answerable to nobody. Just as he has won the love of the people in his state, you can win the affection of a lot of us who love Indian cricket but who sadly have to live with the fact that the BCCI isn't really concerned. It is a huge opportunity for you and for us; for you to show that you want to make a difference and for us to have an address to send our concerns.

There is a huge river of cynicism running through our cricket. It is a river that is fed every year by the sheer mass of inaction. You have the opportunity to change that by asking for accountability all the way down. We would like to see Indian cricket rich with victory and achievement, not rich in the bank. The desire to keep money, that cricket lovers have generated, in banks rather than on display in cricket grounds has continuously baffled us. That is why we are so rich, and yet so terribly poor. I suspect that is because Indian cricket is really run by people who vote rather than those who care.

We look forward to seeing your great skill at winning elections translated into winning cricket matches. Indian cricket can see a bright future if you choose to look at it first. If you don't, the light cannot go further. The offices of the BCCI can win more matches for India than Sachin Tendulkar can, if they display half his commitment.

We look forward to seeing that commitment.Regards.

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