|Font Size -|
These young men who signed up for the ICL were guilty of no more than a misjudgement. All of us make them, some of us still are. But these people have been handed a life sentence and I believe the time has now come to review that. For heaven’s sake, politicians jump sides and get rewarded whereupon they immediately jump ship again in search of more rewards. Some of these young men bore scars of apathy and frustration, sentiments that we have all experienced and felt terrible about. They were not mutineers or renegades, turncoats or mercenaries; they didn’t rob a bank, didn’t let their country down or tour lands that encourage apartheid. They wanted to play cricket, they were doing so in their country and it now turns out they may have made the wrong decision. At some point every one of us is guilty of that. When that realisation comes we search for redemption, for an opportunity to get back; indeed we search for people who show us that path.
This is the time for the IPL and BCCI to show how large their heart is; to throw a lifeline and say “come on, young men, come back and play cricket”. If the ICL decides that it is getting unviable to continue, will these cricketers never play cricket again? Wouldn’t that be inhuman? Other players in the past have romanced with apartheid regimes, no less, and returned. Geoffrey Boycott was one of them and we opened our doors and our hearts to him. Derek Underwood is now president of the MCC, the establishment, and was a prominent invitee to the Champions League launch. Bob Woolmer coached some of the best teams and had a responsible job in the ICC for a while. Chris Broad is a match referee. John Dyson coaches the West Indies and Trevor Hohns was chairman of selectors in Australia for a very long time. Kepler Wessels played for both the rebel Aussies and the South Africans on those tours and was coach of the Chennai Super Kings in their first year.
I can understand the antagonism in the first year of the IPL. Much has happened since then. The IPL has been one of the greatest success stories in the history of cricket, Lalit Modi called it recession proof and so far he has been right. On the other hand the ICL is struggling and the current economic scenario will hit it hard. Should it have to shut shop the owners will take the loss and move on, maybe start a power plant instead, but they will leave behind human debris; living human debris. The establishment has to take care of them in the larger interest of cricket in India. Children take their own decisions but parents can never shut their door on them forever. This is the time for the victor to be magnanimous, to offer a hand of support, to allow them to feel the excitement and earn a living.
It will cost the BCCI and the IPL nothing and will earn it tremendous goodwill. The point has been made, the battle is virtually won. And it is very unlikely that another such venture will be launched very soon. In any case the hazards are far too obvious now. This is a great opportunity to make a one-time offer; not to encourage breaking of contracts or to treat them like a scrap of paper to be autographed on, but to tell them that the window will be open but once. Maybe there can be another formula, maybe it can be available to those who signed up at the beginning; there is always a formula when the mind is willing as we will see when political alignments soon start happening!
A Vignesh, a Rayudu, a Binny must be allowed to have ambition; who knows, they might turn out to be great servants of Indian cricket. But even that is irrelevant; the opportunity for atonement, for a second chance is paramount. It is the sign of a caring society.
(Commentator Harsha Bhogle is an adviser with the Mumbai Indians)
|Date||Team's & Venue|
|Thu 9 -Mon 13, 9:30 local||India v Australia at Bangalore|
|Fri 17 -Tue 21, 9:30 local||India v Australia at Mohali|
|Wed 29 -Sun 2, 9:30 local||India v Australia at Delhi|
|Thu 6 -Mon 10, 9:30 local||India v Australia at Nagpur|