GAME PLAN: Virtual gold and money matters

Jaideep Ghosh

India's Sakshi Malik poses with her bronze medal for the women's wrestling freestyle 58-kg competition during the medals ceremony at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday. Photo-PTI

India’s Sakshi Malik poses with her bronze medal for the women’s wrestling freestyle 58-kg competition during the medals ceremony at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday.
Photo-PTI

So finally, all news and views and exaggerated reactions revolving around the Olympics have quietened down.

Not just the last Olympics at Rio de Janeiro, even the one before in London in 2012 came up for discussion as Yogeshwar Dutt’s bronze turned to silver and for a few days, it even promised a golden hue.

But that was not to be, and silver it was, finally.

Just as well, since somehow it is better that there was such a radical change in situation. It would make Dutt’s bronze, and now silver, quite the fallacy.

I’m sure even the wrestler would rather go and win it instead of having the gold medal being handed down to him because someone else fouled up the laws. Also, it was time to close all conjectures and controversies that come up in India with every such event.

But before we leave the chapter, a word of appreciation is indeed merited by Abhinav Bindra, who finally signed off.

Bindra will always stay the Number One, in terms of the first, and as it turns out, still the only individual gold medal that has come India’s way in Olympic history. The shooter has been right up there with the world’s best for a long time indeed, his iron mind belying his frail physique in what can be quite a demanding sport.

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FILE | Indian shooter Abhinav Bindra takes aim during a 10m Air Rifle men qualification round in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

Even Rio saw him fight till the end, a quality that has always made him a notable athlete. It was also a quality sadly missing in many others who have made a career out of participating in Olympic after Olympic.

Abhinav Bindra is a landmark in Indian sport and we hope he rises to prominence in other fields, now that he has more time at hand.

Back comes cricket: The channels are now full of coloured clothing, white cricket balls and even pink ones as the world of cricket comes back to life with a bang.

And what a ban it has been!

Australia are out to seek revenge for the Test series loss in Sri Lanka, as they kept hammering the hapless Lankan bowling, not just in the just-concluded ODI series, but also the T20 format, which began in Pallekele on Wednesday.

As if 444 in the ODIs weren’t enough, Australia went on to score an insane 263 for three in the T20, with Glenn Maxwell, shunted up the order to opening, making the most of the chance to prove that he was by no mean a thing of the past.

An incredible 145 not out off just 65 deliveries made the second innings quite redundant. It was Maxwell at his best. Or his worst, depending on which side you follow.

In England, Pakistan, after making such a fist of the Test series, felt the wrath of the hosts who were out for revenge. Quite the hammering they were in for as well.

cricket_genericIndia was witnessing Duleep Trophy under lights with pink cricket balls. Once the novelty had worn off, it was pretty much the same, with one team scoring huge piles of runs and then wearing the rivals out.

Doesn’t look like much will change in the domestic format till the first-innings lead rule is altered.
Doesn’t look like the Board for Control for Cricket in India is too bothered, though. They are way more focussed on how to make more and more money, mostly offshore.

The International Cricket Council (ICC), the platform for all battles royale fought on the field and off it saw BCCI and a few other standing resolutely against the proposal of a two-tier Test cricket format.

On the face of things, BCCI stand as the champion for the downtrodden (along with some of the downtrodden) as they say all nations, irrespective of their credentials, merited an equal footing.
That this would lead to separate broadcast deals and advertising opportunities is of course an incidental.

Same being the case for standing against a centralised broadcasting rights proposal.

While that makes sound sense financially, one isn’t sure how it helps cricket, in either tier.
Look at the series being played between India and Zimbabwe. The BCCI, by its own admission, was quite clear that the Africans weren’t good enough.

A second-string side was sent out and that too was too good for Zimbabwe.

Equally, the Test series between India and the West Indies was quite the mismatch, irrespective of the Caribbeans’ defiance and the eventual washout. One wonders if these series are such a boost for people who go and score centuries there. Not quite the same thing as getting some runs against Australia or England, is it?

But not all battles are won or lost on the ground. Some, fought in the boardrooms, are more important. Especially if they mean money.