A controversy has erupted after Indian cricketer Mohammad Shami’s name was withheld from the list of central contracts by the Indian cricket board. By all accounts, the move was in response to allegations of domestic abuse and philandering by his wife. There are issues here which must be looked at carefully
Some have pointed out that Indian cricket cannot afford to lose a good bowler. Others have murmured about how it is the player’s personal matter, and the BCCI need not be involved. On the other side, it can be argued that an organisation with players representing the country has an ethical responsibility to take cognisance of serious allegations against them — domestic violence is covered in the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005.
Yet, there are also questions of another kind here — these have to do with fairness and due process. The BCCI invites accusations of putting the cart before the horse by denying Shami the contract well before a legal verdict has been arrived at. It would have been prudent — and fair — to include Shami in the contract list with a proviso that it will be reconsidered if he is proven guilty. That would have ensured that neither was the player prejudged, nor the allegations ignored.
There is a system and legal process in the country. If the matter is left to the discretion of the board, it would only open it up to thornier questions: What if similar allegations are made against another, more celebrated player in the team? Would the board then take a similar stand? What if the woman making the allegations is not the player’s wife? Would the board then say the allegations need to be proved? It would have been better if the board had stated the reason for Shami’s exclusion. It would have been even better if they had included him with the proviso that he would be taken off the list if the allegations are proved.