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Leave cricket alone

Leave cricket alone
Highlights

The timing was perfect and so was the setting. With the Champions Trophy round the corner and the crucial meeting between representatives of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) underway in Dubai, the politician in Vijay Goel, the Union Sports Minister, seized the moment for scripting his hour of glory. 

The timing was perfect and so was the setting. With the Champions Trophy round the corner and the crucial meeting between representatives of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) underway in Dubai, the politician in Vijay Goel, the Union Sports Minister, seized the moment for scripting his hour of glory.

By reiterating the ‘terror and cricket don’t go hand-in-hand’ chant, Goel has merely played it to the galleries, oblivious of the fact that the people (read it as voters) have become tired of this insipid sloganeering.

There is nothing wrong in ruling out bilateral cricket with Pakistan for ‘as long as cross-border terrorism exists,’ but urging BCCI administrators to discuss with the Centre before making comments on the issue is bound to invite the wrath of a collective lot. After all, if such a series helps both BCCI and the PCB rake in the moolah, even the fans yearn for the mother of all cricketing showdowns.

Alas, Goel is ignorant of the pulse of the fans, who also come under the voters category. In its haste to keep alive the ‘anti-Pakistan’ blabber, the Union Government, of which Goel is an integral part, is turning a blind-eye to the ground realities, which is that it is the Indian fans, who hope for revival of sports ties.

One wonders why the psyche of the Indian politicians has a hangover for anything Pakistan. In their oft-trumpeted rhetoric, one finds a street-smart manifestation to keep the citizens in good humour by speaking against Islamabad, little understanding that Indians, by and large, prefer cultural ties across the spectrum, particularly in fields like sports, arts, cinema or any sphere where politicians are duds and those that don’t have any borders.

Sadly, the Pak-bashing leaders also expose their double standards. For instance, Goel and those of his ilk have no problems if India plays Pakistan in London or other neutral venues but not on home soil.

The Governing Council of Indian Premier League (IPL), which has politicians in its ranks as decision-makers, resorted to the extreme step of isolating Pakistan cricketers from the League but remained mute spectators when former players from the country became commentators! India, only recently, skipped a major hockey tournament that also featured Pakistan.

Fans wonder if this was a deliberate and carefully calculated decision that took shape from the fear that India could be out-dazzled in stick-wizardry. For the fan, the match itself is the winner, irrespective of the eventual outcome. It should not surprise anyone in particular if the June 4 Champions Trophy clash between the arch-rivals surpasses all known television viewership!

Alas, this sport-sentiment for excitement is beyond the wisdom of the men governing the country. To be fair to those ruling the neighbouring nation, bar seeking damages from BCCI, for failing to honour an ICC-inspired undertaking, the PCB has not made too many political statements with regard to sports. Indian politicos need to go in for soul-searching exercises and attend brain-storming sessions if translating the dreams of the players and fans are important to them.

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