In cricket, irony works both ways and honestly, it sees the flow before landing on its path. The BCCI, pretty much like any political party, finds the discourse tougher than expected. It doesn’t really matter whether they do the right thing or wrong - but today I expect them to take the high-ground.
Before we proceed, a quick Bollywood dash. The likes of Ayushmann Khurrana and Rajkumar Rao have extended the lexicon of Hindi cinema to a breaking point with their 'woke' content. They have come to define something new that Indian film audiences never really understood 10 years ago. It is the renaissance of a content-driven era that smacked right at the centre of Bollywood’s age-old theatrics. But what about the legacy actors like your Shah Rukh Khan, your Bhaijaan Salman Khan or the formulaic display in the Rohit Shetty cop universe? It ought to pose a question.
Why? Because on social media, it is a grey-area and you are better placed if you don’t “really like” it. But it is also a dichotomy that talks more about the BCCI and Indian Cricket in general - because the 90s Bollywood has polluted our mind with the thought that “You can’t be rich and good at the same time.” Would we believe the BCCI to ever do the right thing?
Well, the latest offering that came from the “BCCI sources” has addressed the elephant in the room. If Times of India reports are to be believed, the BCCI might cancel the entire domestic season due to the ongoing pandemic, in which India has been the lead contributor with the second-highest numbers of COVID-19 cases in the world, only behind the United States of America.
It might be harsh on many players, who depend on the domestic season for their bread and butter. On an average, a player now gets approximately Rs 2.5 lakh per match in the Ranji Trophy along with the Gross Revenue Share from the BCCI’s Central Revenue pool obtained by the broadcast rights, even without taking Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy earnings into account.
The social media was abuzz yesterday with the fact that how does the BCCI, an organisation that went to the extent of organising Indian Premier League in the UAE, could take the drastic step of putting thousands of domestic cricketers in danger? What about the home loans, other hundreds of responsibilities and as a matter of fact, the living of the players? Can this be compromised just like that?
All of these are fundamental questions and should be welcomed at all cost, for this is a debate that has the potential to trigger a bigger base? But all of that comes with a caveat. After six months into the pandemic, we are not over yet and organising a cricket match without a bio-secure bubble might just be the last thing you want in the current climate. Creating a bio-secure bubble for 38 domestic teams - I haven’t even taken the women’s and age-group cricket to account - is literally an impossible proposition. Health protocols can’t be compromised for the sake of organising a cricket tournament that at best is a feeder system. This pandemic has shaken our core and it has given the BCCI a time to correct the wrongs and put the best foot forward.
Former Indian team trainer Ramji Srinivasan suggested that the long-term effects of this virus on athletes is still largely unknown, health professionals and trainers warn about rushing back into playing competitively. Indian Express mentioned in their report that the infectious-disease experts and health professionals do not have enough data to make conclusions about how COVID-19 might affect an athlete’s hearts and lungs. Chances of players being infected are more in a normal scenario than it is within a bubble and they need to be mindful of the same.
Purely on financial terms, as Shreevats Goswami suggested on Twitter, the BCCI can put in a system to ensure the players get their due even though the domestic season is cancelled for good. Or at best, this has exposed the lack of a system which could be centralised from the Mumbai office sooner than later, instead of waiting to see what the state associations do. Because honestly, the richest board in the cricketing world can’t just wait and see even though the world is moving on so fast.
In that regard, why can’t BCCI process the amount they owe to the domestic players for almost half a decade now? As SportsCafe reported exclusively the players haven’t received the GRS in the last four years and for a regular player, this amount corresponds to around 50 Lakhs. If the BCCI can proceed the said amount first, it can take care of the current expenses and in the process, the board can formulate the right strategy to ensure the players are dished out a right treatment.
That is one of the best and most viable solutions in my opinion because hey I hate to repeat, but India has put themselves in such a situation that we are not sure if we are already exposed to the virus. Social distancing has gone for a toss, cases are rising at a faster rate than Virat Kohli’s centuries and we don’t know what is the right solution yet. In such a time we only are sentimental as much but losing sight of the practicality would mean a bigger loss than expected.