Finally,after all the discussions,cut-throat negotiations and anti-Haroon Lorgat lobbying,the Indian cricket team will land in Johannesburg in the wee hours of Monday morning. But the scale of the upcoming series,abridged as it might be,is not lost on the cricket fans. Nor is the behind-the-scenes badgering that almost ensured that the tour was a no-go.
Its safe to say that the diplomatic mess between the BCCI and Cricket South Africa (CSA) lurks as an irksome backdrop to the truncated series between arguably the two best all-round teams in world cricket presently.
The one vexing outcome of the ego-clashes between the two boards that has left many former cricketers seething is the absence of a third Test the popular New Years Test scheduled annually in Newlands,Cape Town.
We have the top two teams in the world and it would have been nice if they played a fuller series. Obviously there are issues that need to be resolved between the BCCI and CSA. Until they do that there is obviously going to be a problem, says former opener Barry Richards.
CEO to nobody
Ironically,while the BCCIs pet-hate,Lorgat,will not have any active role to play when the Indians land here. For now,hes very much the man-in-charge of cricket here in South Africa. On Saturday,it was Lorgat in his role as the CEO of CSA,who handed the ODI series-winning trophy to Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq. And he was also seen on local television shows talking about the teams recent association with a top-line suiting brand.
Come Thursday,however,and Lorgat will not be in the picture.
The irony is not lost on Richards. It began when Haroon was at the ICC and thats why he left the ICC even though he was scheduled to resign anyway. But there was something happening beforehand. Obviously there was some bad blood. But its awful when it becomes a personal issue and cricket suffers like this, he says.
The controversial former ICC CEO himself is unreachable for comment and insists on not giving interviews. Even ex-administrators are wary of speaking on the vexing issue between the boards or on the man who many feel is singularly responsible for the rift and the cutting down of the tour.
Its unfortunate that you have two such good teams here and you are playing only two Tests. Thats the reality though. A minimum of a three-Test series would have been appropriate. Lets not go into the reasons, says former chief Ali Bacher.
Even someone with a serious axe to grind with the CSA like former disgraced president Gerald Majola are tight-lipped,citing that hes no longer involved with the game. Many also feel that the Indians could still give Cape Town its annual fare with India concluding their tour against the Proteas on December 30,and their next international assignment,the first of five ODIs against New Zealand in Napier,not scheduled until January 19,which means a 20-day break for Dhoni & Co.
Only two years ago,Team India was in London playing a Test match at Lords in 11 days after their last Test in Dominica. That same year the IPL had begun less than five days after India had lifted the World Cup.
I am also disappointed that the Indian players dont say much about that. I am sure they want to be tested against the best,dont they? Beating the West Indies 2-0 cannot be satisfying as beating South Africa in South Africa, adds Richards.
Despite what happens here,the build-up the tour has left a bad taste in the mouth he insists. Says Richards,As a cricket lover it is hard to understand and theres more to it than meets the eye but I think we should put everything aside and see whats best for cricket. And in this case thats not been done.