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Appointing Rahul Dravid - a masterstroke from BCCI

Shamya Dasgupta | | Updated: October 7, 2015, 6:55 PM IST

The next few days are going to be, without a shred of doubt, very significant in Indian cricket. Not because of what the IPL Governing Council-appointed working group may or may not do - which will be crucial too, of course - but because, across in Chennai, the Rahul Dravid-coached India A team will be taking on Australia A in a series of two four-day games.

Never before has the India A side been this much in focus. And, despite the presence of Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Varun Aaron, Amit Mishra and others of high calibre, it really is Dravid who is attracting the attention. Of that, too, there is no doubt.

Appointing Dravid as the coach of the India A and India Under-19 teams was a masterstroke on the part of the BCCI. No doubt, it wouldn't have happened if Dravid didn't want to do it. But it is done - and a mighty good thing it is too. The results will come later, one hopes, but drafting in the big man is a clear signal that the India A team is being taken seriously now. The process had started already, with more and more A tours being planned in recent years, but the appointment - no disrespect to Lalchand Rajput - of Mr Dravid has taken it to the next level.

All of this has cast a rosy glow around the BCCI in the past few days: not something they are used to. Maybe the BCCI, or their officials, don't care about their image, but surely they must know what large chunks of the cricket-watching population - in India and beyond - think about them. Hey, even TV shouting matches are an easy barometer of that. It is true, though, that critics tend to overlook the good things the BCCI does, and it does a fair bit - as it should, that's its job. It is the board's heavy-handedness that attracts more attention.

As it is, the findings of the Mudgal Committee first and then the penalties handed out by the Lodha Committee have caused the BCCI enough embarrassment, and there is no better time than right now to not just clean things up - that is on the cards, one imagines, considering the involvement of the Supreme Court - but go in for an image overhaul. Something that Dravid's appointment, as well as those of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman to the Cricket Advisory Committee, might have been the first step towards.

We would love to hear your ideas. Write in. Meanwhile, I am setting the ball rolling with these:

Go the whole hog with women's cricket

Simply, gentlemen, pay a little more attention. The last time Mithali Raj spoke to Wisden India, she talked about how the stop-start schedule for the India Women team is a big spanner in the works. And this, when things have improved. It's simple - if a team is representing the country, it needs to be backed, given every chance to do well. The women's team just doesn't have that kind of support, not by a long way.

In the latest update, the BCCI have announced two new tournaments for women cricketers from this year - an inter-state and then inter-zone one-day Under-23 tournament and a three-day seniors' inter-zone tournament. That's not a bad start, but still does not match up to the progress of the women's game in England and Australia. So it's far too little and much too late already. There's serious catching up to do.

Be a big-hearted brother

This blog has talked about how India - the BCCI that is - needs to help countries like Nepal and Afghanistan as they move up the ranks, start to make a name for themselves.

"BCCI will be more than happy to accommodate the Afghan cricket team for any kind of help for the promotion of the game," said Anurag Thakur in May. The previous month, Thakur had said, "We have offered our NCA facilities to Nepal cricket for coaching and training of their cricketers preparing for world events."

A home ground for Afghanistan and training facilities for Nepal are good starts. How about taking it to the next stage then - go beyond the national teams, help with the infrastructure in those two countries, one ravaged by war, the other by crippling natural calamities? Help the age-group teams. Send them coaches and trainers - surely India have more than they need. This is the time, BCCI; go the distance.

The stakeholder we tend to forget

On Sunday, in the wake of the Lodha report, the IPL Governing Council announced that a working group would prepare a roadmap of sorts to be adopted with an eye on protecting the interests of "all stakeholders". I wonder if The Spectator is one of these stakeholders. Why not? Too little has been done to make life better for the people we expect to buy tickets and put bums on seats. Most stadia around the country - the historic Eden Gardens a great case in point - are in a shambles. Watching a match from the cattle class stands is about as exciting a proposition as queuing up at a government office. About time an eye was focused on this aspect of the game?

Cricket as an instrument of peace

Now, I thought I'd leave it there - three important constituencies that the BCCI could play good Samaritans to.

But, for an outsider's perspective, I asked my wife what she wants the BCCI to do. Use cricket as "a healing mechanism", she said. Take it to young people in areas of unrest; take it to Kashmir and the northeast, she suggested. Not much of a sports-watcher, somehow she knows about how football has been similarly used in many parts of the world, with the biggest stars from around the world joining in to reach out to people ravaged by war, or natural disasters. Why not use cricket to do the same in India?

Why not, indeed?

Look at it whichever way suits you - a coat of paint to cover the stains, or a genuine attempt at doing good work - good deeds beget good press.
First Published: July 21, 2015, 8:45 AM IST

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