The India cricket team started their ICC cricket world cup 2019 campaign with a thumping 6-wicket win against the South Africa cricket team on Wednesday, June 5. However, a controversy has since errupted over Indian wicket-keeper MS Dhoni wearing a pair of gloves with a dagger logo that looks like an Army insignia. The cricket world cup organising body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), has asked Dhoni not to don these gloves, but fans are divided on the issue. As Virat Kohli and team gear up for their world cup 2019 clash against defending champions Australia on Sunday, let us take a look at what has happened, what ICC rules say, and what are the options before Dhoni if ICC does not relent.
Check 2019 cricket world cup points table here
What is the controversy all about?
During India's opening World Cup game against South Africa in Southampton, Dhoni's wicket-keeping gloves had a symbol that looked like the 'Balidaan' regimental dagger insignia of the Indian Para Special Forces . The insignia was spotted on Dhoni’s gloves when television replays showed him stumping Andile Phehlukwayo in the 40th over of the innings.
'Balidaan' is a distinct insignia of the special forces, which form part of the Parachute Regiment. It has a commando dagger pointed downwards, with upward-extending wings extending from the blade and a scroll superimposed on the blade with “Balidaan” (sacrifice) inscribed in Devanagari. Only Paramilitary Commandos are allowed to wear the Balidaan Badge. Dhoni was conferred the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Parachute Regiment in 2011, and had also undergone training under the Para Brigade in 2015.
The insignia on Dhoni's gloves is not political or religious, nor is it a complete representation of the Army insignia, given that the word 'Balidaan' is not inscribed, so Dhoni might not have gone against the rules after all. In view of this, the Committee of Administrators (CoA) of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has sought the ICC's permission to allow Dhoni to sport the badge on his gloves.
The rule-book allows for only one sponsored logo on the wicket-keeping gloves. In Dhoni's case, he already sports an SG logo on his gloves, below the insignia.
What ICC rules say about endorsing personal symbols
From the world cup clothing/equipment regulations manual:
Two manufacturer's identifications on the back of each glove
1x6sq inches (38.71cm square)
1x2sq inches (12.9 cm square)
ICC statement on Dhoni’s dagger gloves
"The ICC has responded to the BCCI to confirm the logo displayed by MS Dhoni in the previous match is not permitted to be worn on his wicket-keeping gloves at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019," an ICC statement said.
"The regulations for ICC events do not permit any individual message or logo to be displayed on any items of clothing or equipment. In addition to this, the logo also breaches the regulations in relation to what is permitted on wicket-keeper gloves."
What is BCCI’s take on the whole controversy?
CoA chief Vinod Rai, formerly the comptroller and auditor general CAG) has argued that wearing the dagger insignia does not breach any rule.
"According to ICC regulations, players can't sport any commercial, religious or military logo. There was nothing commercial or religious in this regard as we all know. And it is not the paramilitary regimental dagger that is embossed on his gloves. So Dhoni is not in breach of ICC regulations," Rai said.
Rai's comment came after the ICC "requested the BCCI" to ask Dhoni to remove the sign from the gloves, citing rules that forbid display of messages "which relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes."
The CoA's defence was based on the fact that the para-regimental dagger logo has word 'Balidan' (sacrifice) inscribed on it, which is not the case with the logo sported by Dhoni.
What are the actions ICC can take if Dhoni dons the same gloves during India vs Australia world cup match?
According to the ICC rules, Dhoni can be reprimanded if he wears the gloves with the insignia when India take on Australia in on Sunday. The second offence, in case it takes place within 12 months, attracts a fine of 25 per cenr of the match fee. A third offence means a 50 per cent fine of the match fee, and a fourth can see the player losing 75 per cent of his match fee.
Reactions of sports personalities and Indian government
Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Youth Affairs & Sports
"... the issue is connected with the sentiments of the country, the interest of the nation has to be kept in mind. I urge the BCCI to take a fair step in the Mahendra Singh Dhoni? case," Rijiju wrote on his twitter handle.
Dhoni also received support from Chennai Super Kings teammate and India batsman Suresh Raina, former pacer R P Singh, London Olympics bronze medallist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and India sprinter Hima Das.
"We all love our country & that's exactly (what) @msdhoni has done, saluting the sacrifices of our heroes & honouring them. It should be taken as an act of patriotism and not nationalism," Raina tweeted.
Wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt
Yogeshwar, who won two gold medals at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games, said removing the logo will be an insult to the Indian Army.
"The demand for the removal of this badge (by) #ICC is not only an insult to the sacrifices of the Indian Army but the Indian Army. We all have fellow countrymen with Dhoni. #DhoniKeepTheGlove @msdhoni @ICC @BCCI," he wrote.
Hima, who is the first Indian to win a gold in a track event at the IAAF World U20 Championships, also threw her weight behind Dhoni.
"INDIA with Dhoni brother. I support Mahi brother. Jai hind Jai Bharat...," she wrote on her twitter handle.
R P Singh
"Tough for me to understand how @msdhoni's on field gesture on his glove is a problem to @ICC. His fans have taken inspiration out of it and he himself is a respected Lt.Col, really strange.#MSDhoni," he wrote.
Former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia, however, believes Dhoni should remove the logo and follow the rules.
"A player should go by the rules and regulations. If it's against that, then Dhoni will have to remove it," Bhutia told a TV channel.