India gets petty with CSA

2013-10-09 14:00
Haroon Lorgat (Getty Images)
Cape Town – Maturity seems a lamentably missing ingredient in the ongoing impasse between the respective cricket bosses of India and South Africa over the endangered series on our shores this summer.

One thing in favour of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at present is that they are at least making some public noises about their predominantly hard-ball stance, which is more than can be said for Cricket South Africa.

CSA’s stubborn silence on the dispute - some might interpret it as simply having haplessly few cards to play against “old moneybags” -- is not aiding the planning of domestic franchises and, even more importantly, cricket enthusiasts who desperately wish to get their time-off ducks in a row for attendance of matches.

It is disconcertingly only some 40 days before the disputed itinerary, or at least CSA’s intended version of it, is due to commence: if you go to the world’s premier cricket-specialist website,, that is the one still in the public realm in procedural terms, for the relatively little it now appears to matter.

The Indians are due to play a limb-loosener against a SA Invitation XI at Potchefstroom on November 18, and then stick around for a veritable orgy of bilateral combat between the world’s top Test and one-day international powers respectively right up to the fifth day of the third Test (we can only dream?) at the Wanderers on distant January 19.

Of course subsequent smoke signals suggest that at best the tour will be slashed by around half, with the possibility that the entire exercise will not come off – with mortal consequences for CSA’s coffers – not yet wholly eliminated from the range of scenarios.

The steadfast argument from India – though is it actually more personal, more daftly ego- and power-related? -- is that CSA “unilaterally” issued the programme without proper Indian consent and, in fairness, it remains to be seen where the truth really lies on that score.

Alarming me more than anything at this juncture, however, is the frankly rather juvenile, playground-bully nature of public utterances from the Indian side of the fence on the matter.

Chief protagonist in that regard, by my interpretation, has been BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel, whose latest step has been to announce that they have invited CSA president Chris Nenzani for discussions on the tottering series.

The invitation pointedly does not include CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat, and at least one Indian news website,, on Tuesday got Patel to place on record, when pressed to do so, specific resistance to Lorgat’s presence: “No ... the invitation has only been extended to the president of Cricket South Africa.”

He would not elaborate on the snub of an office-bearer traditionally more crucially involved in essential, day-to-day running of a national cricket body than the often more symbolic president.

Patel has been similarly terse and irritatingly up-in-the-air before: “So we are waiting,” he said with particularly novel ambiguity and thinly-veiled provocation a few weeks ago, after announcing that CSA had breached protocol over the release of the itinerary.

Waiting for what? Waiting for Godot? The situation seemed, and still seems, fittingly as absurd as Samuel Beckett’s legendary play.

Isn’t it rich, too, for Patel to brazenly opine: “My (sic) boys are not machines... who are you (CSA) to tell them they should be on the road for more than three to four months?”

More often than not in recent years, the Indians have been wandering minstrels of world cricket, accepting series – many of them vacuous ODI-fests -- far and wide and much closer to home, without any meaningful regard for player burnout. 

At least Lorgat, who so clearly has a rocky “history” with the BCCI from his time at the International Cricket Council helm, had done the publicly decent thing of saying after a mid-September Dubai rendezvous with Patel that he was grateful for the friendly spirit of the discussions -- even if they were possibly anything but that.

Events earlier this week have done to little to suggest resolution to the damaging, depressing spat is notably closer.

India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for tycoon N Srinivasan to assume his role as BCCI president after his re-election for a third term recently; the situation surrounding his office had been clouded by a spot-fixing probe into the lucrative Indian Premier League.

Widely branded the most powerful personality in cricket, Srinivasan getting the go-ahead for resumption of duty is viewed as anything but a helpful olive branch in the bilateral hoo-ha over the tour.

Hold tight, for unless there is some remarkable triumph for diplomacy involving the relatively inexperienced Mr Nenzani and certain, sometimes insufferably self-righteous Indian honchos who revel in holding veritable clumps of aces, this ride may only be starting to get bumpy.

And all the while, cricket cries quietly over the ludicrousness of it all.

Whoever said the game was bigger ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    csa  |  haroon lorgat  |  cricket

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