A Royal Mess




Shane Warne

Shane Warne

Every season there seems to some controversy hogging the limelight when it comes to the IPL. This year, there was a lot of commotion in the lead up, first with the fallout of Lalit Modi, then with the whole Shashi Tharoor fiasco, and the financial irregularities of at least two franchises. But, when the talking was done, and it was time for some action, the cricket finally took over. After about 35 games of the IPL, surfaced another controversy, and in the eye of the storm this time came the pitch at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur, home of the Rajasthan Royals.

It all came about after a match with the Mumbai Indians, when the away side was restricted to a paltry 97 for 8.

Mumbai captain Sachin Tenddulkar, complained about the slow nature of the pitch, claiming that it was not suitable to play T20 cricket on.

However, before the Royals would take the field again at their home ground, captain Shane Warne announced his retirement from the game, and asked fans to show full support in their final two home games. Just hours, before the game between the Royals and champions Chennai, was to start however, came a drastic chain of events. The pitch was switched from their normal playing surface, to one which with more carry, one which did not suit the Royals bowling attack. Warne alleged to have texted the RCA secretary Sanjay Dixit, about the pitch change, but the latter chose to ignore his message. A disgruntled Warne then abused Dixit publicly after the game, with owner Shilpa Shetty having to intervene.  RCA then filed a complaint with the BCCI and the latter has called both parties for an inquiry.

My take on the entire fiasco is that the home team and its captain should have a say on the nature of track to be used. After all, home games are not just about crowd support. Was the pitch change influenced by the comments of Sachin Tendulkar? In other words, had any other captain complained, would the pitch switch have happened? I also believe Dixit, was under orders from the BCCI to ignore Warne’s pleas.  Has the announcement of his retirement attributed to the fact that he probably has nothing more to contribute to the Royals?  These questions have to be answered and will throw light on a number of grey areas in the entire conundrum.

The latest development in the scenario has been that at the BCCI hearing at Mumbai recently, it has chosen to reserve its decision against Warne. Royals CEO said that Warne had apologised to Mr Dixit , and he would accept any punishment meted out by the franchise. There is speculation that Warne may be handed a one match ban, but since he is only due to play one more game, and with the Royals having no chance of qualification, Warne might even intend to sit the game out.

Well, why does the BCCI have to win in every situation? Earlier, it fought its case of retaining Sri Lankan cricketers till the 18th of May, and the Lankan board had to oblige its financially stronger counterpart. It is the only country which fields three domestic teams in the Champions League. To me, this entire mess could have been avoided by one party playing down the feud. Allow Warne to play his farewell game. What better stage to go out than at a jam packed Wankhede, going head to head with his nemesis from the nineties, Sachin Tendulkar, one LAST time. For once, BCCI let the cricket on field make all the headlines.

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