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BCCI’s rotation policy leaves fans feeling shortchanged

By Anand Vasu
Monday, October 25, 2021

When there's extreme disappointment, the first human reaction is to look for someone to blame. In the case of the washed-out ODI at Goa, no obvious villain is forthcoming, for who can you blame for the kind of rain that came down in the days preceding the match and made play impossible?

The fans at Margao felt especially shortchanged because Sunday dawned bright and sunny, and in those conditions, to not even squeeze in a truncated match was mystifying. The players' perspective is easy to understand — it's unreasonable to expect elite athletes to risk injury to play a match that, for them, is just another game.

For the residents of Goa, and the 30,000 that packed the stadium to the rafters, however, this was not merely any game; it was the one home game they're likely to get in years. In that case, the very least the BCCI could have done is allot the Goa game in the months of January-May, traditionally the most dry season here.

The problem, however, is that such sensible and practical scheduling is impossible because the BCCI allots matches on the basis of its much-pilloried (occasionally deservedly) rotation policy. While this automatically means that the best matches are not necessarily played at the best venues, it also means that a state association could get a match when it was least prepared for it.

Only recently, the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association gave up a Test and an ODI, nominally because one stand at the Green Park in Kanpur was not ready, but also because the municipal authorities, who own the ground, and the UPCA, are constantly at loggerheads.

For some time now, the BCCI has stressed the importance of state associations acquiring land and building their own stadia, and set up the necessary funding to make this possible. But this is a time consuming process, and at the moment cricket is still being played at grounds not owned by the state association.

The Kerala Cricket Association, whose Kochi ODI was also rained out, faced a similar problem, being handed the ground only a few days before the match. Here in Goa, the ground has no drainage system, and the Goa Cricket Association can't put one in place even if it wanted to, as they do not own the ground.

Only recently, when the Bangalore Test finished, played out in front of excellent crowds on all five days, Mahendra Singh Dhoni had hoped that important Test matches would be allotted to venues where crowds came to the longest format in great numbers. With the rotation policy in place, there's no room for such common sense, and while it continues, fans will be forced to put up with situations like Kochi and Goa.

Cricket is a big business in India these days, and the stakeholders, who invest heavily in the game, including broadcasters and sponsors, deserve better. The time is not far when someone who has invested crores on a series finds that all the major stars are being rested and raises a stink. The rotation of players, though, is unavoidable. At least this meaningless rotation of venues needs to be looked at carefully.

HT Content & Syndication Services