When no excuse for a shameful failure can be found, put the blame on the women. This is a familiar male ploy and has, not unexpectedly, been taken up by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. After the defeat of the Indian cricket team in the Test series against England, the BCCI has decided that the girlfriends of the players will not be allowed on tour, and the wives will only be allowed for a restricted period of time. The argument is that girlfriends and wives create such a “distraction” that Indian batsmen can’t make runs, bowlers fail to take wickets and fielders drop simple catches. Finally, the solution to the problem of poor performance has been revealed: women. If they are taken out of the scene, the Indian cricket team will be a champion side, a world beater. Is this a sign of misogyny or stupidity? Perhaps both.
Without delving into the mindset that produces such arguments, it is necessary to point out how absurd the decision is. Given the astronomical sums that Indian cricketers earn these days, they can easily send their wives and girlfriends on private visits to the country where they are playing. How will the BCCI then stop the players from spending time with their partners? Will it stop the players from leaving their hotels? There is the possibility that partners might actually book themselves into the same hotel where the players are staying. It is a rule impossible to implement, and hence a rule best not made. At another, hilarious level, girlfriends are supposed to be more of a “distraction” than wives since the latter will be allowed to travel with their husbands (albeit for a limited period), but girlfriends cannot accompany their partners. What is the assumption here? That men are more prone to frolic with their girlfriends than with their wives? Moreover, why are women — wives or girlfriends — “distractions” only on tour? When India plays at home it is kosher for Indian cricketers to spend time with their spouses and partners. On foreign soil the same relationships acquire satanic dimensions.
There is no evidence to suggest that poor performance is related to the presence of women around players. Cricketers of other countries go on tours with their wives and their girlfriends and their performance is not adversely affected. So is it something in the nature of Indian men that the BCCI has observed that makes them vulnerable to “distraction” when they are in close proximity with their women folk? Perhaps the BCCI is making a profound sociological point about Indian males, when all they need to do is administer Indian cricket with a modicum of professionalism. The defeat of the Indian team in England has no non-cricketing reasons. The BCCI has always been prone to offering lame excuses for the poor performance of Indian cricketers. This time it has chosen to offer a blame excuse.