E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has criticized the Indian cricket board’s decision earlier this week to revive cricketing relations with Pakistan with a three-match ODI series in December this year.
Reason: he feels Pakistan is not cooperating in the probe into the November 2008 siege of Bombay despite the mountain of evidence that has been piled at its door.
“Being a Mumbaikar, I feel, what is the urgency (to resume cricketing ties) when there is no co-operation from the other side?”
Gavaskar is a great cricketer and a weighty columnist and commentator to boot. His views carry enormous weight in the cricketing fraternity. He can make or mar ties between BCCI and PCB having been part of the BCCI and International Cricket Council (ICC) administration for a long time.
However, “Sunny” is plain wrong in questioning BCCI’s rationale for resuming cricket with Pakistan three years after the dastardly attack on his hometown?
First: BCCI would have dared to approach Pakistan with a tour proposal only after securing the government of India’s clearance. Perhaps it was Pakistan which came up with the proposal first.
Either way, Union home minister P. Chidambaram and external affairs minister S.M. Krishna would have discussed the issue threadbare with the Prime Minister and only after his (and/or the cabinet’s) clearance would the BCCI have made the first move to invite Pakistan for a tour.
It is the Indian Government that will decide whether Pakistan is cooperating in the Bombay terror attacks, not BCCI and definitely not Sunil Gavaskar. At least we haven’t reached that stage in the BCCI.
Second: While one certainly appreciates his views that as a ‘Mumbaikar’ for the tragedy that struck on 26 /11, he cannot decide whether there is cooperation from the other side. Not even BCCI. That is again strictly the job of the government.
Once the Government gives its clearance after satisfying itself of all the aspects and give its nod, the board and the cricketers should do their assigned jobs, as rightly pointed out by Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in a media conference.
Third: I am sure every player would have felt terrible about the attack, irrespective of whether he was a Mumbaikar or not. So is it with every Indian. In fact it was with that spirit that the whole team played a match against Andrew Flintoff’s England and both teams came in for huge praise from all over the world for their fantastic gesture.
However well meaning, parochial sentiments on a national issue like terror are better consigned to the dustbin, particularly from a cricketer of the calibre of Gavaskar.
Fourth: Sunny is on firmer ground when he questions BCCI with regard to squeezing this tour in a year which is already quite packed. Here again, if he is questioning the tour on cricketing grounds, he should have also questioned the wisdom of selectors’ acceding to Sachin Tendulkar’s ‘pick and choose’ policy, especially in ODIs, a subject which has been dealt by quite of few cricket experts and commentators at length.
This affects balance in the team, creates uncertainty in minds of younger cricketers about their future as they have to make way whenever he ‘feels’ like playing cricket. One would have expected Sunny to question the selectors or Sachin in his weekly column regarding this but that did not happen.
It is only Sanjay Manjrekar who has rightly dared to question this in the past.
Fifth: Why should cricket and cricket alone be the barometer of ties between India and Pakistan? Despite 26/11, the two countries seem to have started finding ways of doing business. Its politicians meet happily, its bureaucrats do, there are growing trade ties, etc.
So, why should cricket be held hostage to terror? It is, after all, a sport.