I have a bee in my bonnet and it concerns the finest game on earth and how it’s being ruined by a few selfish individuals for their own nefarious ends.
In the summer of 1969/70, possibly the most talented team of cricketers ever assembled, thrashed Australia 4-0 in a four-test series. No one-day internationals in those days. Clive Rice was selected for the return fixture, which was cancelled, due to the political situation in this country.
Richie Benaud arranged a bi-lateral series between the West Indies and South Africa, a marquee five-match series, played at The Gabba, The WACA, the MCG, the SCG and the Bellerive Oval, Tasmania. It was called off at the last minute on order of Malcolm Fraser, the Prime Minister of Australia. The tickets were sold-out months beforehand. So started South Africa’s long exile from world cricket, and the world was denied seeing the talents of Barry Richards, Graeme Pollock, Peter Pollock, Mike Procter, Clive Rice, Eddy Barlow and the names go on and on.
Was it wrong? We, as ordinary South Africans thought it was wrong, but the people concerned, the players themselves, as much as it hurt them, agreed it had to be done. As Hassan Howa repeatedly said: ‘No normal sport in an abnormal society!’
Now it’s forty-three years later and South Africa have managed to climb back to the top of the tree, and the journey has been anything but smooth. There have been many stones rolled into our path. The Hansie Cronje scandal, the quota story, the issue of racism rearing its ugly head, but somehow our cricketers perform under these extremely difficult conditions and beat all comers.
So we know that isolation worked and eventually, along with sanctions, forced a change of Government and, although we may not be enamoured of this particular Government (who could be, except a sycophant?), we are, in cricketing terms, back where we belong.
Now we have the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the BCCI, throwing their not insubstantial weight around and telling people like Cricket South Africa, CSA, who they may and may not select as their CEO. We have them unilaterally changing fixtures that were put together by the International Cricket Conference, the ICC, the body supposedly governing cricket in the world. But they are about as effective as the South African Government.
I believe it’s time people like Narayanaswami Srinivasan, the President of the BCCI, were put in their place. They have too much money and they have too much power. They call the shots and the ICC scampers after them like a puppy after its master. He tells CSA that Haroon Lorgat, the previous president of the ICC, must be suspended for the duration of their tour to South Africa, or the tour’s off.
As it is, it’s been truncated from three tests, seven ODIs and two Twenty20s to two tests and three ODIs. In other words, we’re getting the leavings. We are being treated as if we’ve done something wrong, when it is, in fact, the BCCI who must carry all the guilt for this.
I believe there is a solution, however, but the ICC, whose balls are non-existent, would never go along with this, but for the good of international cricket, it has to be done.
Every test-playing nation in the world must refuse to play against India, either in India, or their own countries. India must become pariahs. This would punish the players, of course, but that is exactly what happened in South Africa.
The Indian Premier League, the IPL, could continue, because that is a private venture that takes up seven weeks of the year. But no international cricket for India, not World Cup, no Twenty20 World Cup, no Champion’s Trophy, nothing, nada.
Perhaps then the BCCI will see they are NOT God’s gift to cricket and that the laws that apply in the rest of the world, apply to them as well. This is not baseball, where people, and especially TV stations would cover an inter-city tournament, and call something a World Series, even though it’s played in one country.
Cricket in India would wither and lose all its financial muscle.
And for the sake of world cricket, it couldn’t happen too soon.
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