Updated: February 20, 2015 9:42:04 pm
This is an indication that the rest of the world is not looking at the Indian cricket greats from just the myopic old school viewpoint. Indian cricket for the rest of the world has always meant: spin quartet, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar. Only later were the names of Kumble and Rahul Dravid rather grudgingly added to the assumed list of Indian greats. This apathy is reflected in the poor representation of Indians in the ICC Hall of Fame.
As expected the Hall of Fame only has the most romantic of the four Indian spinners of the 1970s, Bishen Bedi, because he was poetry in motion and the rest of the world rarely understood his skills. Gavaskar, because of his achievements as a Test opener par excellence and Kapil Dev because of his all-round skills are also in the Hall of Fame.
But the rest of the Indian greats like Gundappa Viswanath, Erapalli Prasanna, Tiger Pataudi, Vinood Mankad, Subhash Gupte, Dilip Vengsarkar, Lala Amarnath, Syed Kirmani and Vijay Merchant et al find no mention in this select group of great cricketers. Even the likes of Ranjitsinghji and Duleepsinghji are missing. This is because of general lack of awareness about Indian cricketers of the era gone by and their achievements in Test cricket.
The way the ICC Hall of Famers are chosen is as follows: ICC Chairman invites all living ICC Cricket Hall of Famers to send their nominations. The ICC Nominations Committee then reduces the long-list to 10 men’s and three women’s cricketers. The short-list is then sent to the Voting Academy, which includes representatives of all the 10 Full Members, media representatives from all the 10 Full Members, Associate & Affiliate Member, women’s cricket and FICA representatives as well as living ICC Hall of Famers. The ICC collates the nominations and forwards the ballot papers to the auditors who provides the final results.
So, essentially, the existing Hall of Famers consisting mostly of Australians and Englishmen have a big chance to get their mates voted in. General lack of awareness of the players from other countries like India will result in the genuine greats getting the short shrift. India has been an underachieving cricket nation over the last seven decades. But even while agreeing with that, to disregard the Indian cricketers of the past is absolutely not done.
Also when the first list of inductees were introduced in 2009 there was a grave mistake made. As is the case with most assessing the game, Barry Richards of South Africa got in ahead of some of the great Indian cricketers or indeed some from Pakistan, New Zealand or even Sri Lanka.
Now, Barry Richards made his Test debut for South Africa at the height of the apartheid regime. His Test career was cut short by the ban on South Africa. What he did thereafter was in English county cricket and not in Test match cricket. Now he may have been a genuinely great batsman, but for him to get in ahead of a Viswanath or any of the other great Indian, Pakistani, New Zealand or Sri Lankan cricketer is a shame.
It is a big step forward to include the women’s cricketers in the Hall of Fame. Also it is understandable that the Aussies and Englishmen will have more representation than the rest because they have a headstart in terms of their history in the sport. But just think of this: India before Kumble had just three representatives, Pakistan five, New Zealand just two, while Sri Lanka has no player of theirs in the Hall of Fame thus far. The bigger representation in the Hall of Fame is for West Indies with 17, 26 from England (including two female cricketers) and 21 Aussies with one woman player.
Hopefully the likes of Fazal Mahmood, Abdul Qadir, Martin Crowe, Aravinda de Silva, Allan Donald among others will very soon find a place in this select group. Indian cricket too will also have every right to hope for some of their genuinely great players to find a place.
Ultimately it is about the narrative that is generated from a certain part of the world that gains precedence over other countries. For every Colin Bland and Derek Randall, there was an Eknath Solkar in the field. Similarly, if Shane Warne’s ball to dismiss Mike Gatting was the ball of the century, what about Muralitharan’s delivery to dismiss Ramesh in 2001?
Whoever shouts loudest gets noticed the most.
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