England is tranquil, there is a freshness in the breeze, nature is still a bit uncertain about whether to present summer in all its glory or to keep the suspense lingering. Accordingly there is the occasional nip to the air, an uncertain tug at the jumper, joy at the gentle sunshine sweeping the land. And the talk is of cricket; of playing conditions and of pitches; of T20 lengths and ODI field placements; even a side strain gets a mention. It is nice to talk cricket.
When I boarded the flight there was anger in the air, some of it justified, some of it seen as a commercial requirement. Cricket reporters were studying the BCCI constitution, back room manoeuvres were talked about in the kind of detail the switch hit never got; volume was being seen as a like for like replacement for reason, twitter was up in arms, news channels were up in arms, the front pages were up in arms. Cricket was meant to have delicate phrases and a gentle cadence, strong arguments articulated in measured tones. The situation was grim, it called for action but theatre wasn’t going to provide the solution.
Yes, Asia is in strife. The epidemic of fixing has seen minor outbreaks elsewhere in recent times but its full impact has been felt in our part of the world. Cricket needs men of strength, integrity and charisma; the strength to address the situation squarely, integrity to rise above it and charisma to carry loyal cricket lovers along. In Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, the three worst affected, there is a need for governance and systems and neither of those seem to be the flavour of the month. Systems are ridiculed and looked down upon but when danger looms they save you. The danger before Indian cricket comes as much from unsavoury elements as it does from a disregard for systems. Indian cricket needs solid back room boys to lay down stringent rules not people seeking cameras to say, well, nothing. Indian cricket needs office bearers to agree to stringent codes of conduct not people anxious to leak confidential information from meetings in progress.