Column: No sympathy for the devil

Sep 07 2013, 02:25 IST
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SummaryBCCIs clout and arrogance remain unchallenged, it is time to change the game

But what's puzzling you

Is the nature of my game

I was young, 12 years old, when I saw my very first Test match. It was in Bombay, on December 2, 1960India vs Pakistanand I took leave from school (with my fathers permission) to watch what would turn out to be one of the most boring Test matches the world has seen and possibly one of Test crickets most boring series. But I enjoyed it all; all my idols were therePolly Umrigar, Ramakant Desai, Subhash Gupte, and I saw Hanif Mohammed and Saeed Ahmed score centuries.

There was pride at stake in the series, India and Pakistan had just separated little over a decade earlier, and for the Indian cricket board, BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India), 'not losing' was all that mattered, to the hell with the cricket, and therefore they prepared pitches to make sure every match was a draw.

It was 22 years later, almost to the day, when I saw my second Test match, this time at Bangalore. There was much anticipation because India had defeated England in the first test at Bombay. But that was a clueBCCI, having gotten lucky in the first Test on a turning pitch, decided it was time to close shop, and decided to dis-entertain the cricketing world with the second most boring series of all time.

It still didnt matter, for as attributed to former Australian PM John Howard (by James Astill in his book The Great Tamasha), I remained a cricket tragic. And cricket tragics enjoy any match (almost!). A few years later in 1987, so obsessed by this "most beautiful game", I wrote my first book, Between the Wickets, a book that I will say most immodestly, anticipated Moneyball which came some 20 years later.

I shouted out,

Who killed (Test cricket)?

When after all

It was you and me

But then the fun stopped, and I began to recover from my tragedy. In 1998, I found out about the realities of Indian cricket administration. There was match-fixing, a far more dangerous invention than pitch-fixing of an earlier era. Indian and Pakistani players were allegedly at the centre of cricket corruption. And as part of Rahul Mehras legal suit against the BCCI, I helped discover that this non-profit NGO had via its important subsidiary, the Delhi District Cricket Association, received more revenue from sale of

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