Is former cricketer Ravi Shastri unaware of BCCI's severely damaged image and India serving an Olympic ban? (AFP Photo)
Ravi Shastri was noisy as usual in front of the mic on Friday, but this time there was a hollow about the phony thunder he always tries to create. Still he has managed to create a buzz, with his callous comments.
At the Dilip Sardesai Memorial Lecture in Mumbai on Friday, Shastri favoured two things most of India is raising its voice against: he called N Srinivasan a "genuine cricket lover" and questioned "why people say politicians should stay away from sport?"
Before going into the details of what the former India captain said, it's equally important to know that he went to the extent of saying this as well: "Show me any other sport that's doing so well in India [compared to cricket]." While it's true to a large extent, the comment is in very bad state, especially when sports like badminton, shooting and boxing have taken giant steps and won India Olympic medals. Wonder what Sunil Gavaskar, who co-owns the Mumbai franchise of Indian Badminton League, has to say about this.
Bombay Gymkhana was packed to capacity on Friday with Indian cricket legends in attendance and Shastri made every move to back his unofficial bosses at the BCCI, giving a decorated brief about the last three BCCI presidents.
"The BCCI has been a punching bag, but look at what they have done to the game in the country. It's on top," he said, ignoring everything that is out in the public but still vehemently denied by the board despite glaring proofs.
Shastri credited Sharad Pawar for the IPL. "He is the one who pushed Lalit Modi to implement things. Given a free hand, Modi did wonders. Let's give credit where it"s due."
He then praised Shashank Manohar. "A beauty and a no-nonsense man ... With him, it was black or white; no grey."
And the 51-year-old cricketer-cum-commentator finally threw the Srinivasan bomb, calling the controversial man a "genuine cricket lover and terrific cricket administrator." He went on to defend the India Cements' chief, who has often been accused of vested interests. "If I were the BCCI president or the captain of a team or the head of my political party, I would never have resigned. That's not the school I was brought up in. I would take responsibility and set the house in order."
India have excelled in cricket to a level where some call India a one-sport nation. But instead of encouraging other Indian sports trying for a firm footing, Shastri said, "Show me any other sport that's doing so well in India," suggesting that cricket needs to be backed come what may. But Mr. Shastri, what about the glaring irregularities and lack of transparency at the administrative level? But he didn't touch that.
India have been banned from Olympics by the International Olympic Committee and the politicians in the Indian Olympic Association are making it difficult for India to end the deadlock. But still, Shastri found nothing wrong with politicians running Indian sports. "I don't understand why people say politicians should stay away from sport. They are excellent administrators," he said.
Have your say: Are Shastri's comments against the interest of Indian sports?