Put cricket first: On BCCI being forced to name team for Champions Trophy

The ICC Champions Trophy may not have the allure of the World Cup or the ICC World Twenty20, but it has its own charm, especially for Indians. For starters, India is the defending champion, having won the last edition in England in 2013. And for nostalgia-seekers, there are those riveting images of Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan’s stunning individual acts against Australia in the quarter-final at the Gymkhana Club Ground at Nairobi in 2000. Yuvraj slammed 84 runs, Zaheer yorked Steve Waugh, and Indian cricket had two new stars in the new millennium. Seen in that context, it is a travesty that the Board of Control for Cricket in India is now using the Champions Trophy as a bargaining tool with the ICC (International Cricket Council) in a bid to retrieve its earlier proposed governance and revenue model with the parent body. That move had already been scuttled at the ICC meeting in Dubai on April 26 with India being out-voted. Immediately thereafter, BCCI officials floated the story that India would not participate in the eighth edition of the Champions Trophy in England from June 1 to 18. It was nothing more dignified than a public tantrum that sought to leverage the Indian team’s commercial clout given the viewership size as well as broadcast and advertisement revenues it brings.

The Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) has consistently maintained that the Indian team would indeed go to England. But the BCCI remained obstinate and refused to heed the ICC-mandated deadline of April 25 for naming the squad for the Champions Trophy. It is poor sportsmanship that of the eight teams, ranging from Australia to Bangladesh, competing in the tournament, it is only India that hasn’t announced the squad yet. Hence it is a matter of relief that in a statement on Thursday the CoA asked acting BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary to select the team. The CoA’s observation was emphatic: “The players’ interests are paramount and they must be given the best chance to prepare for, defend and retain the ICC Champions Trophy.” That it needs the CoA to tell the BCCI to put cricketers and their playing schedule on top of its agenda is a sad commentary on the Board and its priorities. By obfuscating issues and putting out evasive responses that the team had not been selected owing to ‘operational reasons’, BCCI officials have demonstrated a shocking degree of insensitivity. They have let down the cricketers, who are busy with the Indian Premier League but also have an eye on the Champions Trophy as it kick-starts their international season besides giving them an opportunity to defend their title. Virat Kohli’s men should compete in the tournament, and the faster the BCCI clarifies its position and selects the squad, the better it would be for the players and the game.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 7:06:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/on-bcci-being-forced-to-name-a-team-for-champions-trophy/article18394238.ece

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