It took a Virat Kohli for the Indian cricket board to do something a trained African grey parrot could do. Type out a simple press release about the status of Rohit Sharma’s hamstring injury and his availability for the Tests in Australia.
On November 26, Kohli said in a virtual press conference that even he, the captain, did not have clarity about Sharma. That finally resulted in a team of surgeons prying open the perennial tight lips of the BCCI and extracting a few words.
Sharma was undergoing rehab at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, the Board said, and he would be assessed on December 11 if he can play the Tests for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Kohli’s words also made a statement Sourav Ganguly had made a couple of weeks ago on the issue seem inaccurate. Ganguly had asserted, with characteristic bluster, that all concerned people were in the know about Sharma’s status.
"Rohit is still 70 per cent [fit]," Ganguly told The Week, when asked about Sharma playing for Mumbai Indians in the IPL final after being left out of India’s short format teams for Australia on fitness grounds. "That is why he is still not picked for the ODIs and T20s Down Under. He has been added to the Test squad."
Ganguly continued, "Who should know [about player injuries]? We know, the Indian physio knows, the NCA knows. I think people don't know how the BCCI works. The BCCI trainers, physio and Wriddhi (Wriddhiman Saha, the Test wicketkeeper, who too was injured) himself knows that he has two hamstring issues. People don't understand injuries, that is why they talk rubbish.”
But according to Kohli, he did not know why Sharma was not on the flight to Australia with the rest of the team.
"After that (being told initially that Sharma was unavailable for selection), he played in the IPL, so we all thought he would be on that flight to Australia, which he wasn't. And we had no information whatsoever on the reason on why he is not traveling with us," Kohli said.
This clearly does not tally with what Ganguly said.
Lack of transparency and clarity has historically been a characteristic of the Indian cricket board. One can’t even call it a failing because that implies that it tries to not fail. The popularity of cricket in India is such that the Board knows it will thrive regardless of how it functions.
It is also apparent that despite being a private organisation that has always resisted government involvement, the Board often displays sarkari traits of bureaucracy and a reluctance to share even basic information. For the 2019 World Cup, the Indian team was to fly Jet Airways. But Jet ran into problems. When I asked a BCCI spokesman what airline the team would now fly, I was told Emirates. But even this harmless, minor detail had to be mentioned off the record.
One of the things Ganguly said in his statement mentioned earlier was, “I don’t think people know how the BCCI works.” The fact is even cricketers, and perhaps parts of the BCCI as well, don’t know how the BCCI works.