A Letter to M.S.Dhoni
Posted on 1-September-2013
Dear Mr. Dhoni,
As I sit down to write this letter, I assume that you will continue to be the captain of Indian teams for international cricket matches whether of the test or of the limited overs varieties. As captain you will obviously have full authority to choose which eleven members of your team will play in which match. I believe you will also have an important voice in the selection of the full contingents for playing in different series of matches at home and abroad. But this letter has been prompted by some aspects of the recent tour of Zimbabwe by the Indian team led by your teammate Virat Kohli.
Virat Kohli would normally have merited unqualified praise for his captaincy of the team which won all the five matches, except for one decision of his which partially marred his success. In his team of fifteen there was a player from Kashmir, Parvez Rasool. Kohli's decision not to give Parvez Rasool a chance to play in any of the five matches not only caused much unhappiness in the Valley of Kashmir but also gave a handle to anti-Indian and pro-Pakistani elements there. The feelings in Kashmir were so strong that two of India's handsomest politicians felt constrained to express their displeasure. Judging from their fluency in the kind of English urban anglologue Indians speak and use, they are obviously educated men, unlike many others among their fellow politicians. Their adeptness at using a modern medium of communication like the Twitter is evidence of the modernity of their outlooks. These are as good reasons as any why their opinions should matter to all of us. I am sure you would have noted what they said about Parvez Rasool's exclusion, but I am in any case giving below their comments as reported by the two daily newspapers I look at every morning.
Mr. Omar Abdullah, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir said: "Did you really have to take him all the way to Zimbabwe to demoralise him? Wouldn't it have been cheaper to just do it at home?" And Mr. Shashi Tharoor, India's Minister of State for Human Resources Development had this to say: "Greatly disappointed that Parvez Rasool not playing today. Bizarre selection. Could easily have rested Jadeja and Raina for Rasool and Rahane." You would know of course that Messrs. Abdullah and Tharoor, being so bright, complete their governmental chores in less than full working days and can take time off to critically appraise sporting, artistic and other similar events with the eyes of cognoscenti. Their views should carry much greater weight than those of Parvez Rasool's father, Ghulam Rasool, who was reported to have said: "...We fully honour the decision of the team management. They are the best judges to decide who should play and who should not. Had he played today, our dream would have come true....But, we are a family of sportsmanship. We don't get carried away by emotions. We are hopeful he will play an international one day for India." Ghulam Rasool's amateurish opinions are so completely off the mark!
It is quite obvious that Virat Kohli, relatively young and inexperienced, deserved these chidings from two of our political leaders and, maybe, others. Also perhaps because it was his first outing as the captain of the Indian team that the only thing that mattered to him was winning. He lost sight of the wider repercussions of his decisions. But there may have been more. A usually well informed friend told me that coming from a family of sympathisers of the Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Virat Kohli is himself a secret RSS sympathiser and holds deep seated anti-Muslim views. This is why resting Raina, a Kashmiri Pandit to make room for a Kashmiri Muslim would have been unthinkable for him. Resting Ravindra Jadeja, who comes from Gujarat where everyone worships the RSS idol Narendra Modi would have been similarly unthinkable for Kohli. Hopefully Kohli will learn from the two ministerial reproaches and mend his ways if he wishes to retain his chances of leading Indian cricket teams in future.
You, Mr. Dhoni, are much more experienced than Virat Kohli. As the most successful Indian captain, you can I believe be detached about winning or losing matches. You would be aware of the place the game of cricket occupies in the hearts and minds of all Indians, so much so that entire television--which modern bright Indian now reads newspapers or listens to the radio?--news bulletins and discussion programmes can be devoted to an important cricket match won or lost. Even newspapers produce headlines printed in one inch tall letters spread across their front pages when the Indian team wins an important cricket match. It will be no exaggeration to say that cricket unites and inspires the entire Indian nation. What Indian cricketers do has an impact on India's politics, economics and sociology. Therefore as the captain of the Indian cricket team you have a responsibility towards India's well being, especially towards the maintenance of India's unity and integrity.
These are the considerations--important in the eyes of all right thinking, patriotic, secular minded and wedded-to-the-principles-of social-justice Indians--that impel me to suggest to you a few guidelines for selecting the playing eleven for all cricket matches played by your team. To begin with each playing eleven must comprise at least one Muslim, one dalit, one member of a scheduled tribe, one from other backward castes and one from the Sikh, Christian, Jain or Buddhist communities. Of the remaining six there must be at least one each from the North, West, South and East of India. Obviously, for you to be able to follow such guidelines India's selectors must select the national teams in such a way that all sets of eleven players are invariably based on this kind of regional and community wise distribution. Since we Indians are known to have a natural bent for pure mathematics, it should not at all be difficult for the Cricket Control Board to find a mathematician to devise a selection formula for the selectors, so that the guidelines I am suggesting are never violated. I have heard a rumour, even as I write this letter, that India's ministry of sports is in any case getting ready to issue similar guidelines to all sports bodies. They are also said to be thinking of making it obligatory for all sports bodies to submit the composition of national teams selected by those bodies for prior approval if they find that the sports bodies are not following the guidelines. I am sure you as a wise man and India's cricket selectors, with your recommendations, will voluntarily follow the guidelines and not allow a situation where your teams will have to be approved by the government. I am sure you will also consider it your patriotic duty not to question the validity of such guidelines.
Naysayers will naturally argue that in sports winning is more important than any other principle and therefore talent is the only criterion that should guide the selectors. Such naysayers can safely be ignored. What is of utmost importance for India is to build a unified nation in which aspirations of all sections of society are nurtured and respected. Since cricket occupies such an important place in India's national life, cricket in the country should be organised in such a manner as to contribute to this highest national effort. As regards the question of talent, I am sure you know that anybody with average talent can with patience, perseverance and proper training rise to the highest level of excellence. As for winning matches, after so many victories in so many tournaments, your team can easily deal with a few losses. Besides you can drum into the ears of your team the virtues of non-attachment to the results of one's actions. For you personally also it may be of great advantage to follow these guidelines. Your position in the world of cricket is already well established. By helping in building the kind of nation all of us wish to build you will also earn for yourself a chance of getting a Padma Vibhushan, even a Bharat Ratna.
Please accept, Sir, the expression of my highest regard and I remain
Your most ardent admirer