Indian Cricket’s latest crisis is thanks to an episode of Koffee with Karan, who would have ever thought! Earlier this month, an episode featuring KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya aired on the sleazy talk show hosted by Karan Johar where the two cricketers freely talked about hooking up with girls, being open with the family about sex, and hitting on girls in nightclubs, among other things.
Immediately after the episode aired, online outrage began against the duo’s comments with Pandya in particular getting severe criticism. Pandya was rude, obnoxious and a general a**hole on the show but what has transpired since then, is utterly bizarre and bewildering. First, BCCI took note of the comments and issued a show cause notice with CoA member Vinod Rai recommending a two-match ban. However, the other CoA member, Diana Edulji wasn’t too keen on letting the matter end so quickly. Any quick resolution could be construed as a “cover-up” job as per Edulji so she wants a detailed enquiry. What is there to cover up in an interview that was aired on National TV and everyone being aware of the alleged transgression is anyone’s guess.
Now with the enquiry yet to formally begin, the two players can’t play any international cricket so they have been recalled from Australia and left out of the touring party for New Zealand. That means, the two players have already faced an 11-match ban (8 One Day Internationals and 3 T20s) while waiting for the news of their official ban. In all likelihood, the duo will miss out on the Australian tour of India as well that starts on 24th of February and the IPL to follow.
The personal battle between Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji has now left the careers of 2 promising cricketers in limbo and destabilised the side ahead of the all-important World Cup. Whatever Pandya said, however problematic, was no ground for a ban. A public reprimand, and a monetary fine would have been enough to show everyone that as BCCI contracted players, you are expected to maintain some decorum in your public appearances. As an extreme case, Rai’s idea of a 2-match ban was also acceptable but now we are matching Cricket Australia in our overreaction.
Punishment for ball tampering in case of Steve Smith was a 1 match ban as per ICC with Bancroft getting demerit points and losing his match fees but Cricket Australia reacted to the online outrage and proceeded to ban them for a year (9 months in the case of Bancroft). BCCI here is guilty of doing the same mistake of overreaction by reacting to the social media outrage instead of the actual “crime”.
Now former cricketers like Gavaskar and Harbhajan have joined the bandwagon against the two “disgraced” cricketers with Gavaskar saying these players have brought the game into disrepute and Harbhajan saying he would not even travel in the same bus as these players. Even match-fixing doesn’t make you a pariah in Indian cricket but apparently, boasting about your sex life does.
Whatever happens from here on in, one thing is for sure that Indian Cricket will be the loser due to this tug of war between the two CoA members as this won’t be the last time these two will clash and hurt Indian Cricket. About time Kohli and Shastri stand up and say that the players have suffered punishment already by missing series against Australia and New Zealand and the issue must be closed. Nobody in Indian Cricket can refuse Kohli these days but question is, will he take a stand or will watch from the side-lines.