The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Chappell's chuckle
- Sachin on trial, stars cut to size

Mumbai, April 7: In a rare departure from convention, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) working committee has directed the selectors to send a “young team” on the May 10-29 tour of Bangladesh.

It may seem extraordinary, after an awful performance in the World Cup, but one would’ve expected Dilip Vengsarkar and his colleagues to select a number of youngsters on what would normally be a “soft” tour.

The captain, though, remains old: at president Sharad Pawar’s behest, the selectors hurriedly retained Rahul Dravid till the tour of England, which ends in September.

No selection meeting was scheduled.

Treasurer N. Srinivasan said this unusual step was taken to end “speculation” after the debacle. The squad, then, could’ve been picked as well.

Srinivasan chose not to read much into the defeats at the hands of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. “It’s only a game.... We should give credit to Bangladesh.... How many post-mortems can one do'”

While the first working committee meeting after the early exit took significant decisions, nobody really questioned Greg Chappell’s role as coach, nor did anybody comment on the lacklustre captaincy.

Nobody even talked about the coach/cricket manager after Bangladesh.


The bottomline is that the BCCI has struck at the players on multiple fronts: The three-tiered retainership is to be replaced by a uniform scale. Then, the basic match fee could now be as low as Rs 1 lakh. There will, of course, be a bonus for wins.

Currently, the annual retainerships vary from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 50 lakh, but the figure may come down to no more than Rs 10 lakh.

Also, while existing contracts won’t get affected, henceforth no player can endorse more than three products and sponsors won’t be able to contract more than two players.

The biggest strike was reserved for the biggest name — Sachin Tendulkar. The icon has been asked to explain (showcaused really) his comments in the media earlier this week. Yuvraj Singh is in the same boat.

The message from the BCCI is unambiguous: When even Sachin is not above the rules and regulations, you’d better fall in line!

According to The Telegraph’s sources, at least one member wanted Sachin to be “disciplined” straightaway, but was told that procedures had to be followed.

Till recently, such a turn of events would’ve been unthinkable. Sachin’s stock has never been lower and he’s a prime candidate to be benched for the Bangladesh tour.

Apparently, Punjab Cricket Association president Inderjit Singh Bindra himself proposed that his state’s pride, Yuvraj, be taken to task.

The impact is bound to be felt down the line and Chappell would be pleased. He set out to demolish the star system and the biggest of them all is in the dock! Perhaps, there’s going to be a sense of satisfaction (on one front at least) as he clears immigration late tonight.

The players are without a “club” of their own — the Indian Cricket Players’ Association is nothing more than a joke — and, so, there’s nobody to take up their cause.

Indeed, after the World Cup disaster, they’re on weak ground. Either they accept what’s being offered or look at Subhas Chandra’s Indian Cricket League, which, by the way, won’t get official sanction.

Surprised' You shouldn’t be.

The BCCI believes uniform payments will minimise “misgivings” between seniors and juniors. A working committee member went to the extent of alleging “seniors make juniors carry their bags”.

Meanwhile, from 2008-09, the zonal system of selectors is being done away with. Instead of five, the number could be down to three, but there’s no clarity on how the selectors will be appointed. What’s certain is that the BCCI’s constitution has to be amended.

The appointments are going to be for two years and the selectors will receive a suitable remuneration. That’s fine, but who’re the suitable boys'

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