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No,Little Master

Why Indian cricket does not have its Mike Selveys and Richie Benauds

April 7, 2009 10:55:10 pm

Stay off my team,Shah Rukh Khan told Sunil Gavaskar as politely as is possible when marking your turf as separate from an acknowledged master who brought happiness to your childhood. Gavaskar had,in a column,taken issue with Khan’s strategy for his IPL team,the Kolkata Knight Riders. At the heart of his argument was coach John Buchanan’s plan to have multiple captains in the KKR team. He also wondered at the freedom KKR owners had given Buchanan in recruiting support staff,and at the media for unquestioningly hailing him as a “super coach” instead of seeing him for what Gavaskar believes he is: a failed first-class cricketer getting top international players to do what he could not. The Little Master has begun an argument that we must,for the sake of cricket,take forward.

Khan has said what he felt he must. KKR is his team,and it’s his right to be inventive in a format which is still revealing its possibilities. Cricket invites passionate response,and certainly Khan will find there’s no hiding under the radar for reckless innovation. That’s his risk. And it is Gavaskar’s duty as a commentator to put forth his views. But it is his other comment that’s illuminating. Where are voices in the Indian media to point out the reality as it is? It’s not about Buchanan — he’ll be sorted out,for good or bad,by his track record. More valuable is Gavaskar’s focus on the absence of insightful,and by extension independent,opinion and analysis for a sport that joins the entire country in big conversations.

Cricket,unlike any other story,is dominated on TV and in print by the authority of former India players. Their name recall gives them attention and they set the parameters of most discussion. A primary focus for them should,for instance,be the working of the BCCI. Separation from the board should be essential,right? At the least there should be a disclaimer. A fruitful exercise would be to map the ties that bind most former cricketers to the board or to some other stakeholder in the game. Then perhaps we’d know why

Indian cricket does not have its equivalents of Mike Selvey,Peter Roebuck and Richie Benaud.

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