Board for the Control of Cricket in India
Sub: How to save Indian cricket
Dear Mr President
You know as well as I do how the team your Board put together has fallen apart so comprehensively that they have now lost eight matches abroad in succession, being blanked four-zero in two consecutive series. You know as well as I do, too, how the fickle Indian people are betraying their bounden duty to support the team through its time of trial.
Probably, at this moment, you’re tearing your hair out by the roots in anguish at the thought that corporate sponsorship might dry up and advertisers move away to other sports, leaving the Board high and dry. Perhaps, too, you’re wondering how to keep the lucrative TV deals. After all, the TV channels are as mercenary as the advertisers, and as faithless as the fans.
Well, sir, please don’t worry any longer. I’m here to solve your problems for you.
As far as I see, Mr President, your problem is the fact that the team has lost all the matches it’s played – that it’s been whitewashed in two consecutive series. That kind of thing sticks in peoples’ craws for some incomprehensible reason, and they’re liable to stop paying money for the privilege of watching their cherished national heroes lose everything in sight.
But if the national heroes weren’t to lose quite everything, I think you’d find that the attitude of the fans, and so the sponsors and the channels, would be drastically different.
So, Mr President, the focus should be on this: that the cricket team should not lose everything. But how is this to be achieved, you ask? No, I have not gone crazy. It is quite possible to arrange things that the team will never, ever, lose everything again.
Mr President, sir, have you forgotten a little something? You still sit in the controlling chair of the richest cricketing board in history, which can still browbeat and blackmail the rest of the cricket-playing world (all seven or eight or twelve countries) to fall in line with its demands and requirements. If your Board doesn’t like a law, it’s not adopted. If your Board wants a particular TV sports commentary team, which has no pretensions to anything but rabid jingoism, all TV channels will hire that team, whether they like it or not. Whatever your Board wants, it gets, and the International Cricket Conference can only bleat ineffectually in protest before meekly falling into line.
Well, Mr President, while there is still time, use that clout.
In every series featuring India, before it ever begins, there are some things you must ensure:
First, the turf of the pitch is to be flown in from India, and only Indians are to be trusted with preparing the wickets. This will ensure that the conditions are familiar to our players, and since they are more equal than the rest, they deserve the best.
Then, the umpires. This is a no-brainer. We have the largest population of the cricket-playing world; ergo, we have the largest number of umpires in the cricket playing world. (What do you mean, figures? Who cares about figures, unless they’re the ones on a balance sheet, Mr President?) Since we have the largest number of umpires, then, the level of competition is greatest amongst them, and therefore we have the best umpires. The logic is irrefutable – after all, our captains of capitalism use it every day. Any match involving India must have only Indian umpires, who are paid by the Board. No other solution is acceptable.
Then, there must be a handicap system. The Indian team should be allowed to be a win over the opposition before any series even starts. Therefore, even if the team loses every single match it actually plays, it’s still got a win on the board. And in a multilateral cricket tournament like the World Cup – especially the World Cup – the team should automatically get a place in the final match, with the other teams slogging it out amongst themselves to qualify to be the opponent. That was just the way chess used to be, and what chess could do, cricket can do better. Right, Mr President? Then, India will at least be Number Two, and everyone’s happy.
Well, almost everyone.
I need scarcely tell you, Mr President, that there are malcontents who will still go out of their way to make disparaging comments about our heroic cricket players and about your great Board. There’s a simple way to checkmate these vermin: please have them declared dangerous anti-nationals, the equivalent of Maoists, environmentalists, liberal human rights activists, and suchlike traitors. In fact, you can even call them Maoists who are attempting to sabotage the national morale. Who will dare oppose you then?
Also, you can ask for cricket to be declared an official religion, alongside the more established ones, with your Board (and at its apex, yourself) as the Supreme Divine Authority. As we all know, that will henceforth protect you from any interference whatsoever, since you can deter any criticism by calling it an affront to your followers' religious sentiments. Problem solved!
With best wishes, and hoping I have calmed your mind and soothed your fevered brow,
Bill the Butcher