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Abhinav Bindra’s career not the folklore it should have been

Well done, Abhinav Bindra. You’ll always be the man who got the first individual gold medal for India.

Written by Jaideep Ghosh |
September 7, 2016 2:04:05 pm
abhinav-bindra-m Abhinav Bindra, Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medallist, was never the most expressive of athletes in India. (Source: File)

The significance of the days gone by seems to have been lost in what has now become the usual mundane post-Olympic rat race. We recently saw Abhinav Bindra sign off as a competitor. Should have been a day when the nation stopped to take stock of the moment. But then, we aren’t the best when it comes to saluting those leaving, in any field.

Bindra’s decision to sign out of the shooting range brought to close a career that has been quite the story for Indian sports. Sadly, it still isn’t folklore that it should have been. Bindra was never the most expressive of athletes in India. Many more, of far less quality and results, have made names for themselves by simply converting the process of being heard complaining into an art form.

So he wasn’t always the first name to came to one’s mind when thinking of athletes who have made a name for India. Many of those that do come to mind don’t have an Olympic gold medal. Some don’t even have a medal! Of any hue.

Anyway, that cynicism can be set aside for now.

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Well done, Abhinav Bindra. You’ll always be the man who got the first individual gold medal for India. The way things are looking, you may well be the only one for some time to come.

Here, we come to another man who almost became a gold medallist. Yogeshwar Dutt was close, wasn’t he? But have no doubts he’d not be the happiest man if he did get the gold medal. All self-respecting athletes will go and try to win it for real, not have it handed down, four years after the event.

Also, the compete disinterest with which his promotion to silver from the London Games was greeted makes it amply clear that, in India, the present is all that is. The past is, well, the past.

Cricketing capers: While the Olympics and the ensuing song and dance now dies down, its back to cricket! Pakistan are fighting England; Australia are trying to avenge a whitewash in Sri Lanka and international competitions are cropping up everywhere.

And fights are on at the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) chief executives’ meeting in Dubai, with the Board for Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) doing what it does best – object.

Now, with the Big Two of cricket (strictly according to themselves) – England and Australia – making rather overt attempts to one again wrest command of the ICC from India, a power struggle was always going to be on the cards.

BCCI is in quite the corner back home, with the Justice Lodha Committee recommendations being forced down its throat. It is fighting and objecting there too, gallantly.

But while it does that, the pretenders at the ICC are trying to once again establish control.

One of the proposals was that these Big Two and their cohorts play in an upper tier of Test cricket, while the assorted minnows are sent downwards.

This isn’t the worst proposal really. Especially if you look at the way things go with Test series between nations like Zimbabwe or even the West Indies with others. Even Bangladesh could well be in the lower level.

What these series do for Test cricket, or cricketers, isn’t quite clear. Not much, since runs against Zimbabwe do not mean you’ll be a success against Australia.

But that is the on-field logic. Of the field, teams like England and Australia, along with New Zealand a couple more, can then focus on playing themselves more frequently, leaving the kids to swim or sink in the kiddie pool.

But that isn’t quite how the BCCI operates. While championing equal opportunity for all, the Indian board sees every such series as an opportunity to thrash out deals with the broadcasters and make more money.

So there surely can’t be a situation where half the market is unavailable!

As things stand, both sides have relevant points. Equally naturally, India gets support from nations whose broadcasting rights are held by different agencies from the ones who operate in England or Australia. Or India.

There was also the proposal for centralised markets for global broadcast rights.

The same logic works here too. There are many players with interests in cricketing revenues and the common one among them all is India. So wherever BCCI can make money, it will. That negates the entire concept of a centralised rights bid.

Nothing wrong with that. Cricket is above and beyond other sports in India for this reason alone – that they make their own money. That is also why BCCI thinks it can fight off the Lodha recommendations. But that is another story.

As things stand, it’s quite an interesting little future that cricket will witness. With the power struggle once again coming alive, it will be the one to watch. On the field and off it.

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