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Superfluous stalwart

The BCCI president, on Tuesday, had said that, no matter what, the Ranji Trophy would be gone ahead with all right. The sweep of the sentences in the assorted news copy suggested a certainty akin to the inevitability of the everyday rise of the sun in the east.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

“Ask and you will receive” is a biblical assurance, though the catch is that you must have the faith that it is possible. Asking for it, though, connotes something else, and many among us ordinary mortals suss it out only after we’ve stepped on a banana peel because we, walking, were glued to the mobile screen. But these pitfalls aren’t what have the Board of Control for Cricket in India huffing and puffing and taking a nasty toss and then struggling to place itself the right side up.

On Wednesday, we had the BCCI secretary Jay Shah announcing suspension of the Ranji Trophy and some other domestic tournaments in the wake of the rapidly spreading coronavirus infections, with Omicron playing havoc. And what you saw in the papers came with the mandatory homily about player safety being the cricket board’s chief concern. There was nothing wrong with it, of course ~ we’re grateful for small mercies ~ but if you had taken Sourav Ganguly, in home isolation after a brush with Covid-19, with an iota of seriousness the day before, you would have been stupefied.

The BCCI president, on Tuesday, had said that, no matter what, the Ranji Trophy would be gone ahead with all right. The sweep of the sentences in the assorted news copy suggested a certainty akin to the inevitability of the everyday rise of the sun in the east. One day later, it was a joke, fuelling the question: did division of labour in the BCCI imply Ganguly proposed and Shah disposed? Was the chief part of the decision-making process? If you move on from the institutional embarrassment, you will recall how Ganguly in 2020, when the coronavirus was expanding its footprint, was asked about the Indian Premier League of Twenty20 cricket and said that the competition would be held on schedule.

It was an amazing reaction at a time when deaths were a pathetic commonplace and everyone lived in fear. Commercial imperatives prevailed, though, with the IPL being rescheduled and shifted to West Asia, but the initial statement of intent from Ganguly unveiled an ivory-tower detachment from reality which was scary and disgusting in equal measure. He is no exception in contemporary sport’s gold-paved corridors of power, to be sure, but when
you try to square the bravado with his continuing popularity in his own domain, the puzzle seems short of quite a few pieces.

What it means for cricket is another matter, however. It was Fifa boss Joao Havelange who, having pulled strings to give the 1986 World Cup to Mexico, thundered, after a devastating earthquake, that he would fly down to the country to find out how damaged the stadiums were. The deaths and the destruction meant nothing to him. Havelange is a dirty word in today’s football, and everyone knows why. He didn’t know the Bible also said: “There’s a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”