Olympians Dhanraj Pillay and V Bhaskaran flayed the decision to prepone next year’s hockey World Cup to avoid a clash with the Indian Premier League, saying the administrators have let down the game and submitted to cricket.
The World Cup was originally scheduled in the capital from March 7 to 20 but the International Hockey Federation (FIH) advanced it by a week to avoid a clash with the third season of the IPL slated for March 12-April 25.
To add to that, Hockey India President A K Mattoo had hinted that there is a strong possibility of rescheduling the final of the elite event scheduled for March 13, since it clashes with an IPL double header.
Pillay, one of India’s most successful forwards and a member of the selection committee, said he was extremely disappointed with the decision.
“IPL is a domestic tournament and the World Cup is only next to Olympics. It should not have happened, this is wrong. World Cup dates were announced early and IPL should have been postponed and not the World Cup,” Dhanraj said.
“And if they are now thinking of shifting the World Cup final then I would say they are not committed and have submitted to cricket,” the former skipper fumed. Former India coach Bhaskaran was equally annoyed and said things like this happen only in India.
“I am really angry. They should not have agreed (to prepone it). World Cup is bigger than IPL. Best countries participate in it,” Bhaskaran said.
“Had it been in any other country, it would not have happened. World Cup is World Cup and IPL is entertainment. IPL is not an issue of national pride but in World Cup, a country’s prestige is at stake,” Bhaskaran said.
He was of the view that the organisers should have gone ahead with the original date even if it clashed with IPL. “I don’t know why they fear cricket. Fans would have turned up to watch hockey. Somdev (Devvarman) had drawn big crowd in Chennai during the ATP event. Why people would not come and watch hockey World Cup?” he said.
“Coverage would not have been a problem. European countries like Spain and Holland have nothing to do with cricket. IPL is all about one channel and World Cup would have all the international channels covering it. They should have gone ahead with the original schedule, even if it clashed with IPL,” he said.
Bhaskaran, however, did not feel it was FIH’s fault. “It is the host country which presents the date. They did not plan early and advanced the Wold Cup fearing IPL. They should have stood to challenge of cricket,” he said.
Pillay, meanwhile, accused the Indian media of being biased to cricket. “In India, hockey does not get its due coverage but media will write even about the cars purchased by the cricketers,” Pillay said.