If there is a dreamland anywhere on this planet, it must be the Board of Control for Cricket in India, not so much in the physical sense of a territory with a well-defined address and its own terrestrial boundaries but as a conceptual entity with people up and about, if a la-la land includes them.
Some evidence of it could be discerned this week when Sourav Ganguly, ahead of the Motera Test, a pinkball one, against England, spoke eloquently of a fullhouse blockbuster in the offing and how delighted he was that normality had returned after the loss of so many months to Covid-19.
You remembered his unambiguous assurance last year, when the coronavirus had begun making its blood-curdling presence felt that the Indian Premier League would stay unaffected by it. And the papers that told us of the BCCI chief’s latest instance of effusive optimism also reported how Indian medical experts had more or less coevally happened upon the South African variant of the killer scourge, with a quartet of afflicted travellers coming home. The doctors had not said where they were now but the National Institute of Virology in Pune was said to be “trying to isolate and culture” the new menace.
A crucial bit of information about the previously unsuspected threat was its “potential to evade vaccines.” Very interestingly, Ganguly, in his off-to-Ahmedabad comments, hinted also at the IPL being held at home this time around with spectators being let in.
If you were required to read into it an acknowledgment of the Central directive on attendance at stadiums, you would also have wondered why India’s former captain chose to be completely silent about openly expressed and growing resentment against life in oppressive bio-secure bubbles – stepping out of one and into another, ad nauseam – within the cricketing community as commercial imperatives outweighed player well-being.
Quinton De Cock has gone into a mental health break. England have had all sorts of problems with living in prolonged isolation, inclusive of flying back home from South Africa, a country Australia have in the recent past cancelled a visit to. Even the oh-so-obedient Indians resent the repetitively restrictive practice.
Ganguly, bypassing it all, goes on about daynight matches as the only way for Test cricket to survive without, of course, the benefit of facts bearing him out. The pink-ball Test, India’s first, that the Eden Gardens hosted in November 2019 days after Ganguly had taken over as BCCI chief, was no sellout show. Not at all.
Also, Bangladesh having been no match, and who capitulated in three days, it did not present the conventional format in the brightest possible light, even if the Maidan looked like it was bathed in April sunlight while it lasted. Even in a world of fiction, a fairy tale cannot do without a good story and at least one good writer.