In a matter as grave as the M.S. Dhoni Army insignia issue, it came as a huge surprise when the Committee of Administrators (CoA) chief Vinod Rai rather than taking a stand backing the former India skipper, said that if there is a specific norm that has to be followed, the Indian board would not break that. But the Indian players have made it clear that they will stand by the man they all call their 'Captain'. While Virat Kohli is the skipper of the team, the term captain here is used as a mark of respect.
At a time when one of India's most successful captains needed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to back him, the CoA which is currently running the game in the country failed to show the support. In fact, this after the CoA had a meeting in Mumbai on Friday wherein the matter was discussed. The meeting also involved the CEO Rahul Johri who is expected in England ahead of game against Australia on Sunday.
The Indian players though have shown their solidarity and have said that they stand with Dhoni and feel that there is nothing wrong in what the stumper did.
Speaking to IANS, sources in the know of developments in the Indian camp in London said that the players have said that Dhoni has their backing and the issue was unnecessarily taken out of proportion.
"The players have made it clear that they are with Dhoni. While they don't wish to get into debates with regards to clothing and equipment regulation of the ICC and whether the international body should have given the approval once the mail went from the BCCI, they are united in this and stand by their former captain," the source said.
Interestingly, the former India skipper has also received messages from other Indian sportspersons who have said that they see no harm in Dhoni sporting the 'Balidaan Badge'. "It is not just the Indian cricket players, he has got messages even from other sportspersons in the country who have said they salute him for what he did and it wasn't wrong," the source added.
The state associations of the BCCI also made it clear that they stand firmly with Dhoni, signalling to the ICC what to expect when the CoA is done with running Indian cricket.
"Why was this allowed to become what it was? ICC should not take out its frustrations with the BCCI on the boys. First response of a pragmatic organisation would have been a harmonious resolution. A lacuna if any, could have been sorted by seeking permission and granting permission since the badge does not violate the ICC guidelines," a senior state association member told IANS.
Echoing the sentiments, another official said: "The ICC chose the confrontation route unnecessarily. Is the BCCI not supposed to be responsive to the public sentiment as per Lodha Committee? Then how can Vinod Rai term it as a non-issue? It is this very attitude of the CoA and the CEO that has made us insignificant in the ICC," the state official said.
Another state association member said that while Johri's inability to take a stand in ICC meetings is not new, the international body has this time also hurt the Indian fans with their decision to not grant permission for a badge that has no political, racial or religious sentiment attached to it.
"From what some ICC members have told us, the CEO finds it difficult to even speak in the meetings and only tries to get the minutes to record that he said something. Also, in taking this approach the ICC has hurt the sentiment of a large number of Indian fans. Additionally, by rejecting permission, they have in a way made a statement that the Indian Army is political," he said.
A BCCI functionary said that it will be interesting to see how Johri handles the issue once he reaches London since Rai had said that the CEO would be speaking to the senior ICC officials.
"It will be interesting to see what the CEO, who is travelling with his family to the UK, will do when it comes to negotiating further with the ICC in this regard," the functionary told IANS.
(Baidurjo Bhose can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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