Two good and too bad!

Shenanigans notwithstanding, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is a body that doesn’t get the credit they deserve for running the game in this 
large country.

Its imperfect ways evoke serious, strong and scathing criticism from the local, national and international media. At the end of the day, realisation of their good work ought to dawn, but the media, which I’m part of (stressing this because I cringe massively when people who are in the media space as commentators/social media influencers and even freelance writers take pot shots at the media) are reluctant to give the establishment credit.

I believe they don’t care a rat’s behind about criticism, but if at all the lack of kudos affects the BCCI, they’ll do well to realise that it is self-inflicted. However righteously one views journalism, there must be a two-way street. Good press relations doesn’t mean full-on appeasement. They are fostered through respect for what people do, on both sides of the fence.

In that sense, the BCCI have, in my opinion, displayed a callous attitude towards the people who sit in press boxes and convey what’s happening to the public; the very public who spend time, money and, most importantly passion.

For example, did the public know about the large number of players who were going to be rewarded at the BCCI awards night on January 23 at Hyderabad? No, because the cricket bosses chose not to release the names to the media. Even the CK Nayudu lifetime award that was presented to Farokh Engineer and Ravi Shastri wasn’t made official before the event.

An ex-administrator was so right when he asked me, “What’s the big secret over these awards?” In short, the awards were held virtually unannounced where the media were concerned.

The pandemic caused the BCCI to include the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons in their 2022-23 awards function, hence awards were given away across four years. But when it came to the lifetime award, only two cricketers were chosen. If you, like me, see a ring of oddity to this, do you also see absurdity in the fact that no woman cricketer was given a lifetime award at this year’s function? Diana Edulji, who declined to be honoured with the award when she was a member of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) to run Indian cricket, should have been honoured for her services to cricket now that the CoA doesn’t exist.

One wonders what sort of thinking goes into the lifetime awards. Actually, I shouldn’t wonder because I have heard how suggestions to give Ajit Wadekar the lifetime award (which he eventually got in 2011), were met with objections from influential board officials because Wadekar got involved in the Indian Cricket League.

In fact, the late India skipper is still being passed over for honours by his own state association.

There should have been four lifetime award winners in a combined season function. And women cricketers should have been lifetime recipients.

Back to the media. I don’t think that the press fraternity should be too upset about not being invited to the awards function. It’s the BCCI’s party after all, although it won’t hurt the board too much to invite those reporters covering the Test—in this case, reporters for the Hyderabad game.

However, not giving out information in a proper fashion is downright inexplicable. For example, it was amusing for journalists to listen to Rohit Sharma speak about Rajat Patidar as the replacement for on-leave Virat Kohli at the pre-Test media conference in Hyderabad even when the BCCI hadn’t made it public.

Probably it’s fair to presume that the BCCI don’t deem the media important and it’s time to face that truth.

While flipping through the BCCI’s commemorative volume, published in 1979 for their golden jubilee, I came across this passage under the sub head Press, Radio and Television, written by M Chinnaswamy, the then president of the BCCI: “The most powerful media of communication of the twentieth century—free Press, Radio and Television—have done a lot in popularising the game of cricket in India. It is not possible for everyone to see a Test match for reasons more than one, but all who are keen lovers of the game can keep themselves posted fully by listening to the ball-by-ball commentary on the Radio, all over the country. Those who are fortunately placed can occupy a comfortable seat in front of their or their neighbour’s television set and ‘see’ the match televised, though at centres where the Tests are played, Television has affected the gate-takings adversely. The Press, of course, must get the top billing in these media. The sports-writers, however critical they might be regarding administration, the game and the players, have nothing but the good of the game in their hearts. The Board has always looked upon them as messengers that carry goodwill from city to city and country to country.”

Unless the BCCI comes half-way down the pitch as it were, commit to better media relations and take on board (pun unintentional) the fact that there will be ups and downs in their partnership, runs will be scored only from one end. And the cheers will be limited to just their set 
of cheerleaders.

mid-day’s group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello

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The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper

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