Refs not blowing the whistle

IPL 4 has been a success, but even blatant cases of sledging have gone unchecked.-K.R. DEEPAK

There have been many instances wherein the sledging has been blatant in IPL 4 and in an era where the ICC code of conduct expressly states that upkeep of the spirit of the game is of paramount importance, the match referees have been either too lenient or have been indifferent in dealing with some players guilty of misconduct.

IPL 4 has been providing a lot of entertainment apart from the excitement that is synonymous with it. However, the current edition has thrown up many ways by which the Indians are getting short-changed. Firstly, the lesser-known Indian cricketers are getting badgered by the proven ones in international cricket and though there is bound to be some sledging in a highly competitive event such as the IPL where the stakes are high, the code of conduct still applies as this is an official event. There have been many instances wherein the sledging has been blatant and in an era where the ICC code of conduct expressly states that upkeep of the spirit of the game is of paramount importance, the match referees have been either too lenient or have been indifferent in dealing with some players guilty of misconduct. It is always a case of why should I be the one to create a flutter, but it is ridiculous for the referees to allow the foreigners to get away with just about everything. Given the way the referees have gone about their jobs, one does wonder if they are under pressure to ensure that harmony prevails over efficiency. I find it difficult to believe that the match referees are acting “under instructions” but it all boils down to individuals going with the flow lest they get ignored in the future.

Apart from having to cop a lot of abuse on the field, the non-capped Indian cricketers are also at a disadvantage in terms of being denied a chance to earn mega bucks. For instance, someone like Christian who has hardly figured in the 30 of the Australian squad gets more money than many Indians who fall in the same bracket. Yes, the argument that it is the decision of the franchisee to decide on what they want to pay a player is alright, but then the same argument applies to the non-capped Indians as well. Who knows, a non-capped Indian player might have been paid more than a million by some franchisee if only he were to be put up for auction. For guys who spend the prime of their life playing cricket for their state and zone and for various reasons fail to make it to the top, the IPL bonanza is the only chance to gain some financial security.

It is an irony that franchisees in general don't mind paying a fortune for the foreign players especially when a team depends largely on the Indian players performing in order to succeed. Besides, the craze for Australians (players and coaches) is really strange considering that the Australians have struggled in the T-20 format in international cricket and their decline in other formats started a few years ago as well. The franchisees took shelter under the argument during the first three years that they were suggested to pick a coach from a list provided by the chastised chairman Lalit Modi, but nothing much has changed in IPL 4 where a lot of changes took place. Hiring an acclaimed cricketer is acceptable but to allow the foreign coaches to bring in their entourage and rule the roost is beyond one's comprehension. The legends of the country have suddenly realized that there are enough worthy candidates to take charge of the various Indian teams as coaches, but quite obviously their decision to voice their opinions has been ill-timed.

It has been stated by people in the know of things that foreign coaches are hired as they don't get influenced easily, unlike the Indians. While there is some justification for this line of thought as a result of some bad experiences, it has to be said too that the Indian coaches were not allowed to function independently in the past. Hence it was a case of poor ethics travelling from top down. No one can convince me that Azharuddin was named as the Indian captain in 1990 for his tactical acumen. I will leave it to the readers to draw their own conclusions from my statement, but the attitude of the administrators is far better today than it was some years ago and as such this is the right time to make use of the resources we have in our country. Duncan Fletcher will be with Team India for the next couple of years, but, hopefully, there will come a time when an Indian will take over the Indian team. While there have been conflicting views about Fletcher's appointment, he probably is the best suited amongst the others that were supposedly in the fray. Let's not forget that Fletcher has enormous experience and had great success with England, but the remarkable characteristic of Fletcher is that he is media shy to a fault. All it will take Fletcher to get a handle on things is to see the way his two immediate predecessors went about in their interactions with the media and draw up a game plan.