It is time the BCCI buried the hatchet with Kapil Dev

Of late, whatever the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) does, it gets into a controversy.

The well-intended gesture to give cash awards to all former cricketers who donned the Indian colours with distinction, has turned into another of BCCI's goof-ups.

Board president N. Srinivasan announced earlier this month that the surplus funds earned from the Indian Premier League would be distributed among a select band of former Indian international and first-class players, with each getting a one-time payment of Rs. 25 lakh to Rs. 1.5 crore, depending on the number of matches they have played.

This, the BCCI felt would help those cricketers who did not have benefit matches after their retirement.

The move is indeed a welcome one. Imagine someone like 78-year-old Nari Contactor, the former Indian skipper, who received a few hundred or thousand rupees as match fees during the peak of his career. For him, Rs. 60 lakh would sure be valuable.

Unfair exclusion

But, the BCCI ignored stalwarts such as G.R. Vishwanath, Syed Kirmani, Dilip Vengsarkar, Mohinder Amarnath, Mohammed Azharuddin, Kapil Dev and Kirti Azad. The argument that went against Kirmani and Vishwanath was that they had benefit ties in the past. But the board should ponder over the fact that these cricketers did not earn even a fraction of what is being paid by the BCCI now, from their benefit ties.

The issue against the former Indian captain Azharuddin is different, as he was banned by the board, following match fixing charges and subsequent court proceedings. But the exclusion of Kapil Dev is galling. The man, who was instrumental in India winning the World Cup of 1983 deserves a better deal. Kapil, who led the now defunct rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL), is seen as detractor of the board. True, Kapil was involved in an acrimonious battle with the board on the issue, refused its offer of ‘amnesty'.

No for vendetta

But then much water has flown under the bridge since then. It is time that the board buried the hatchet with Kapil Dev.

Kapil has reacted with lot of grace, saying, “It's their call and I am neither happy nor unhappy about it. I have always given my best to the country and played positively. I take this also in a positive manner.”

The omission of someone like Kirti Azad was expected as he has been a trenchant critic of the BCCI. Kirti went on a hunger strike recently to draw attention to allegations of corruption and mismanagement of the IPL and BCCI.

Azad, who is a BJP MP, is unrepentant about his tirade against BCCI. He renewed his attack claiming that with its so called largesse, BCCI wanted to buy the silence of former cricketers. “I am not bothered about not getting paid. If they can deny it to someone like Kapil Dev, it is the height of pettiness. I for one will keep pointing out their mistakes, whenever they go astray,” Azad said.

Whatever may its logic be, it is for the BCCI to show that the game is bigger than individuals and they have the heart to embrace all who embellished Indian cricket.

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