Monday, January 23

Of inevitability and power

Sometime in the near future, you can expect to see a stodgy but articulate chap standing on one leg, hands firmly grasped around a mouldy pillar, its base creaking in crumbling mud. That chap would be ol’ Athers, and the pillar he’ll be so dearly clinging onto will be an illusion borne of an archaic impression of the world order.

At best sharp, precise and handy with his laptop; at worst Michael Atherton has shown glimpses of a perspective still mired in a word I myself am loathe to use- a colonial attitude. If he has his way, we will all be standing with him in that very quagmire. Except, as he himself points out, a lot of the people in the cricketing world are not from that order, and do not believe- indeed, have no reason to- in the need for a continuance of status quo.
It seems pretty obvious to most but the likes of him, that there is no justification for the home seasons, or itineraries, of England and Australia to be sacrosanct, and those of the others pliable accordingly. Nor is there any reason for those with the financial clout to let those without it run the game as they wish.

Yet, for me, this is not about Michael Atherton, nor his diatribe against the BCCI, nor his new-found passion for the ICC. At the end of it all, it calls for little surprise, that the one member that effectively funds this sport, is the one who will call most of the shots. It may not be the best setup, but it is the most inevitable in a sport that is as much about bat and ball as about banks and balance sheets. Romanticism about a sport that uplifts and impassions first and earns people money later, is exactly that- a rose-tinted view that I would be the first to enjoy, but one none of us can realistically expect the world to live by.

What pinches in all of this- in fact, has pinched since well before the doughty former England opener stirred up sub continental indignation- is the way the inevitability of today’s cricket world seems to panning out. The alacrity with which the new BCCI regime has fast-tracked it’s new ideas smacks less of the desire to right any perceived wrongs, and more of a frenzied wish to rake in as much as they can while the cherry is still red. Worse, it reeks of a selfishness that is, if not unexpected, particularly distasteful in its intensity. It would have made sense- for themselves more than anyone else- if the BCCI had, for once, delved into their musty tact-store and used some of that precious commodity. With their obvious economic strength in the game comes the requirement for grounded feet and, dare I say, even some good-heartedness. That they project neither is a sad, disheartening and unnerving truth.
Perhaps they missed out on the Spiderman phenomenon, or they might have listened to old Uncle Parker’s advice. You know- that bit about great power and responsibility…

Meanwhile, Athers would do well to cling on not to that pillar of cricket he is rooting for, but rather to the lip-smacking prospect of new traditions being created, and co-existing with the old ones.


Samir Chopra said...

Nice post - shortly after Athers shot his mouth off, I blogged a tiny, angry response to it, with my feeling that no matter what the merits of the BCCI proposals, language like Atherton's was not going to help:

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