Even as I read about Shah Rukh Khan being ordered to stay off the players area in the ongoing Indian Premier League, my mind goes back a few decades when the Indian team captain kept a Prime Minister waiting because there was a team meeting on in the dressing room. The same year, at a different place, a Bollywood icon was also asked to wait outside the dressing room.
The dressing room was sacrosanct and was available only to the players. In fact, there were times when the attendants were banished too because the players had to discuss a few important issues. The dressing room, to me, and to every cricketer, remains a domain of the players only.
So, when SRK makes noise and talks about being insulted by the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption representative, I feel he has not been properly briefed on the areas that he can access. True, he is the owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders but that does not give him the right to sit in the dug out or the dressing room because these areas are strictly meant for the players and none else.
I will not blame SRK because it is very obvious that he is not aware of the rules governing access to players but he should also look at the other owners of the IPL teams. They have stayed away from the players during the matches. I would also like to know how come the IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi is seen around the players area, doing high fives with some of the celebrities.
I am surprised that SRK is insisting on continuing with what he has been. It does not befit his stature to announce that no one can stop him. Of course no one can stop him provided he takes an official permission to do so. The ICC representative is only following certain rules and I would expect someone like SRK, who claims to have been a sportsman, to understand the seriousness of the issue.
SRK can always take official permission to approach the players even if he happens to be the owner. I am told that owners of football clubs worldwide restrict themselves to their private boxes and do not approach the players' area at any time.
Even the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India or the chairman of the ICC do not enter the dressing room or approach the dug outs. I had written in one of the columns how the legendary Don Bradman sought permission to enter the Indian dressing room when we toured Australia in 1981. Some time back even the National selectors were told to keep away from the players during a match. At big events staged by the ICC, the players area displays photos of the people who can be seen in that area. I am not aware if this practice is being followed at the IPL.
The SRK issue apart, another unpleasant development from the Eden Gardens was the statement by Mahendra Singh Dhoni regarding the seniors having failed in this IPL. He is a good cricketer and promises to be a good captain too but he needs to take care of his public utterances. This tournament is not just about juniors. In that case, I would like to ask what have Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, RP Singh achieved. Look at Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Shaun Pollock, Sanath Jayasuriya, all seniors and all performing. Let Dhoni not dismiss the contributions of Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly with some reckless comments.
To me the greatest sight in the IPL has been a leg-spinner bowling the last over of the innings. Amit Mishra and Piyush Chawla have distinguished themselves very well. They have shown that twenty20 is not just big hitting. There is place for some skillful bowlers too and Mishra and Chawla deserve a huge pat.
Live Score, News & WC 2019 Updates