Ramachandra Guha’s letter against the gods of cricket is a lament in helplessness

The culture of deification is deeply entrenched in our psyche.

Written by Sandip G | Updated: June 2, 2017 6:35 pm
ramachandra guha, ramachandra guha bcci letter, guha quits bcci, indian express Ramachandra Guha. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal. Files.)

Superstar syndrome. Superstar culture. Culture and syndrome, in isolation, are not synonymous, or convey remotely the same meaning. But both words acquire an almost identical colouring when eminent historian Ramachandra Guha, who as recent as Thursday ended his brief administrative stint with the board, conjoins both with the word “superstar.” Superstar syndrome, he says, distorts the contractual disbursement of the board. The example is former skipper MS Dhoni, who despite having forsook Test cricket nearly 30 months ago, continues to be in the A contract and enjoys its privileges.

Superstar culture, he points out, has manifested in the kitschy manner the whole Anil Kumble-Virat Kohli saga is rolling out. Guha seems to be confounded rather than appalled at how “a group of senior players” can decide or dictate the future of a coach, who has not only been highly successful in his recent venture but also a staggeringly prolific (though not worshipped) cricketer in his days. “Does it happen in any other sport in any other country?” he asks.

Yes it does. The deification, be it of sportsmen, film stars or politicians, is a subconscious, everyday reality of our lives, deeply entrenched as it is in our psyche. Even more so in Indian cricket, and this emotion, or culture, pervades and obscures the reasoning of even Supreme Court judges. If not, the Court wouldn’t have included Sunil Gavaskar in the IPL governing council committee. While his cricketing credibility is indisputable, his vocation as BCCI’s paid commentator and his stakes with a player management group make this a clear conflict-of-interest-case.

Guha had pointed this out to his fellow members in the COA, but, inevitably, fell on deaf ears. While the BCCI office bearers, present or past, wouldn’t have initiated stern action against such discrepancies, because they are in awe of superstars, the COA, an independent committee armed with powers by the court and seemingly without affiliations to any cricketers or state cricket boards, could have. They didn’t. Guha’s resignation letter is a lament in helplessness.

In that sense, the COA has only proved what some cynics had feared and some ousted BCCI office-bearers had indignantly ventilated about in the past. Which is, that alienating and replacing the BCCI with people of little experience despite their worthy pedigree, is bound to invite more confusion and commotion. The attempt at unshackling cricket from its seasoned, gnarly administrators has only shackled the game’s administration further.

Now it can mutate into a cure-turns-cancer scenario. Guha’s resignation was but a symptom. Guha’s own quote from his colossal work “India after Gandhi” sums up the situation best: “Bhakti in religion may be the road to the salvation of a soul. But in politics Bhakti or hero worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”

Replace politics with cricket in the country. It rings equally true.

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  1. V
    Virika
    Jun 6, 2017 at 10:35 pm
    It is heartening, that in this age of greed and superstar culture, Guha's intellectual honestly will force us to do some soul searching. It is time we bring cricket down from the pedestal and let other sports be given there due place and significance. Adverti t should be permissible only if made a part of their contract-only minimal and occasional.
    Reply
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      Vijayakrishnan Kb
      Jun 4, 2017 at 1:25 pm
      It is exactly this deification of our superstars by the highest court in the country that has led to the suppression of the list of players in the now-notorious sealed envelope, which is reliably said to contain, at the very least least,one of these superstars who still struts the stage. Atrocious!
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      1. G
        G YAGNESWARAN
        Jun 3, 2017 at 10:11 pm
        Ramachandra Guha is only apt for autopsy.
        Reply
        1. V
          Vijayakrishnan Kb
          Jun 4, 2017 at 1:26 pm
          Oh, really?
          Reply
        2. D
          Dipti
          Jun 3, 2017 at 11:13 am
          Virat Kohli's antagonism towards Anil Kumble must be seen in terms of North Indian narcissism being confronted by South Indian sophistication. Its the natural reaction of a child from a misogynistic, banal, violent, uncouth tradition --spare us the word "culture". Kohli, progeny of Punjabi refugees, instinctively resists the leadership of Anil Kumble, who belongs to a world of mathematics, high music, cleanliness: things so alien to a Delhiwallah.
          Reply
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            ordinaryindian
            Jun 3, 2017 at 3:09 am
            Barring the poor South Asian countries, 1ndia included, cricket is just regarded as a summer club game in other common wealth countries where the game still survives. Even in Lords and Sydney, it is immigrant people from subcontinent who turns up to watch the game mostly. Maybe it is time this colonial-era relic is allowed to p away on its own, so that newer generation of 1ndian children can become physically fit and play some real sports.
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              VIVEK
              Jun 2, 2017 at 9:38 pm
              I am afraid Vinod Rai in BCCI as turned out to be a spineless guy even as superstar of Indian cricket continue to exploit the system shamelesly for their own good, from Gavaskar to Shastri to Dhoni with out an iota of ethics.
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                Vishal
                Jun 2, 2017 at 9:35 pm
                “Bhakti in religion may be the road to the salvation of a soul. But in politics Bhakti or hero worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.” This quote is of DR AMBEDKAR , it is one out of three warning he has given to nascent republic , in his very last speech in cons ution embly.
                Reply
                1. R
                  rohit
                  Jun 2, 2017 at 8:40 pm
                  Ok
                  Reply
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