The Indian Premiere League has seen many dark days. Although I am a strong critic of the 20-20 format and the concept of IPL, I have continued to give moral support to the Bangalore Royal Challengers, a cricket team associated with my home city. One of the main reasons I supported RCB (as it is popularly called) is its team captain, the legendary Anil Kumble. The team also has had many cricketers from Karnataka viz, Rahul Dravid, Vinay Kumar, B Akhil, Appanna and many others.
However, the recent so called strategic decision of the RCB think tank to retain only Virat Kohli for IPL season 4 and to allow everyone else (including Anil Kumble and Dravid) available for the meaningless player auction is nothing short of silly and rude.
Anil Kumble changed the fortune of the team after its dismal show in season 1. People who knew Anil Kumble (from his Ranji playing days) knew that he was the best candidate to shepherd the team. However, the RCB think tank decided to rope in Kevin Pietersen and fortunately he failed. Now, they are repeating the mistake by not showing the minimum courtesy to retain Anil Kumble as the team captain.
They may know something about Kumble, which I don’t. Probably, after his election to KSCA, Kumble might have indicated that he is fully into cricket administration and would like to give way to new faces. Let us think for a moment that it could be true. Even if that is true, why did RCB leave promising young cricketers from the state?
I recently made a comment on RCB’s website and I quote
“Keeping Kumble and Dravid out for auction is a disgraceful act. Dr Mallya, you did do well by supporting Kumble’s campaign during KSCA elections. However, it appears that your concept of a Bangalore cricket team is meaningless. If RCB cannot afford Kumble and Dravid, I cannot afford RCB. I am sorry to say… I can understand them not playing in the team if they opt not to play anymore. I am sure my RCB membership is so inexpensive (Oh my god, it is free!) and RCB fans are in so bountiful in supply that I can easily be dropped”.
I would surely be very happy if Kumble, Dravid and other Karnataka players issue a statement saying that they are not available to play for any other franchisee. If Kumble and Dravid have retired from RCB, they should make it clear. In addition, International players do not bring in any sense into a regional team. They are flexible bits, who fit into any team any day. If players such as Vinay Kumar and Robin Uttappa do not get a place in RCB, then what is RCB?
The larger issue is the way in which senior players and regional talents are treated in Indian cricket. We have always known how the Domestic structure works, haven’t we?