For India, the upcoming tour of South Africa is crucial for more than one reason. Considering the 2015 World Cup, the tour has its own importance as it would help Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the selectors, to start making a plan on how to defend the title.
For a few dejected seniors – Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Harbhjan Singh and Zaheer Khan – the result and performance of youngsters at this tour also matters a lot, as it might decide the fate of a few old warhorses.
It’s undoubtedly a high profile series - a contest between the number one and the number three Test team in the world. It would be Team India’s first overseas Test tour in more than a year and 10 months. A strong opponent and difficult conditions means a litmus test for the young Indian brigade that has so far proved its worth outside subcontinent, albeit in limited over formats.
But even after having such a crucial series, rift between the two boards or to be more precise, between few highly influential personalities – N Srinivasan and Jagmohan Dalmiya and Cricket South Africa’s newly appointed CEO, Haroon Lorgat – might ruin the marquee series.
Immediately, after CSA announced the itinerary of two month long sojourn of Indian team consisting 3 Tests, 7 ODIs and 2 T20s, BCCI claimed they had not been consulted on the complete schedule. And within few weeks of time, BCCI hinted of trimming the schedule to 2 Tests, 3 ODIs and 2 T-20s, which doesn’t make much of a sense.
Apart from that, the richest and most influential cricket board - BCCI - also came up with a surprise by announcing a two match Test series at home soil against the West Indies, just ahead of the South African tour.
The announcement gave birth to the speculations that Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement is on the cards and his 200th Test would be his last. If BCCI is planning for a grand farewell for the ‘Little Master’ then it can be justified but if it’s not the case, then the rift between the BCCI officials and Haroon Lorgat have almost ruined the much anticipated tour even before it kicks off.
Once again, the powerful board and its influential members, have shown their power, this time by taking revenge from CSA or one can say from Lorgat, as a comparatively shorter tour will give CSA huge financial implications that could be around R175 million.
Both the boards have shared a strong relationship in the past. India backed South Africa immensely, in officially readmitting the country in the international cricket in 1990s after apartheid. Even in 1991, India came up with a ‘friendship series’ to make their bond even stronger. South Africa too gave their best shot when the pay-back time came in 2009, by organizing the Indian Premier League season quite successfully in a very short notice period.
But the long time amicable relationship is no more the same and most of the responsibility for it probably lies with Haroon Lorgat, the erstwhile ICC CEO. During his ICC tenure, few of his ideas – implementing the DRS and appointing a Lord Woolf Commission just to curve the powers of powerful boards – didn’t match with the thinking of the influential board BCCI, whose the then secretary was no other than N Srinivasan.
Even the decision of shifting the marquee India-England match away from the Eden Gardens during the 2011 World Cup, humiliated Jagmohan Dalmiya to the core, who is heading the BCCI as an interim president.
That’s why it was never a mystery why BCCI who was pressurizing CSA, few months back, not to choose the strongest contender Haroon Lorgat for their chief executive post. Though, Lorgat is now in a mood to walk some extra miles to break the deadlock, it’s still not clear what’s in the mind of BCCI, as they are still keeping their cards quite close to their chest.
Whatever the end result would be, but if we think from cricket’s perspective, I don’t think by any means it’s wise to put your ego first and then the sentiments of the cricket lovers of both the countries, who have been eagerly waiting for the high profile series to start. The game should always be the first priority and off-the-field issues should always be kept aside, especially in such cases where ego hassles spoil an entire series.
If BCCI has some issues with Lorgat, they should sit and talk and come out with a best possible solution, rather than keeping mum and taking decisions which are not at all in favour of the game. As to play with the emotions of the cricket crazy fans would be the last thing cricket needs at this point of time when fixing saga in the game has already affected the game to the core.