Cricket Week storiesOne of this week’s major cricket stories came from the sleepy town of Kalyan in India, where a 15-year old schoolboy Pranav Dhanawade made history by scoring an unbeaten 1009 in a school cricket fixture. In the process, Dhanawade also broke a 117-year record that stood in the name of England’s AEJ Collins, who had scored 628 runs during a club match at Bristol in 1899. In Australia, playing for Melbourne Renegades, West Indian sledgehammer expert Chris Gayle spoke distastefully to a woman reporter and enraged cricket fans. Australian broadcaster Channel-10 confirmed that Gayle’s comments to the TV presenter were disrespectful and he would not be involved in the coverage during the remaining part of the tournament. Gayle apologised later on but he had already brought disrepute to cricket, generally regarded as gentlemen’s game. Also in India, a Supreme Court appointed panel called Lodha Committee tendered its report that recommended a complete overhaul of Indian cricket. The committee suggested reforms in the functioning of India’s Board of Control for Cricket from top down to grassroots levels. One aspect of Lodha report pertained to limiting TV commercials only during Lunch, Tea and intervening drinks-breaks during live telecast. If implemented, this will adversely affect BCCI’s financial accruals.

This week’s major cricket story concerned 15-year old Pranav Dhanawade, who notched up 1009 not out for his school team KC Gandhi Kalyan. In a match against Arya Gurukul School, KC Gandhi scored a monumental 1465/3 with Dhanawade making an unbeaten 1009 in 323 balls with 129 fours and 59 sixes. In doing so, Dhanawade broke a 117-year old record of 628 not out scored by England’s Arthur Collins in 1899. Collins was 13 years old then and he later joined the British Army. He played no further cricket and was killed in the war at age 29.  In India, the highest-run record in school games earlier belonged to one Prithvi Shah, who had piled up 546 in a Harris Shield match in 2013-14. In a two-day HT Bhandari Cup inter-school tournament, Pranav Dhanawade scored 652 not out on the opening day and went on to reach the seemingly insurmountable landmark on second day. His team declared at 1465/3 and bowled out the opponents for 31 in the first innings and 52 in the second to win by an unimaginable margin of an innings and 1382 runs. Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar has praised Dhanawade on his fantastic achievement. Incidentally, in his school days, Tendulkar was also involved in an epic 664-run partnership with old-time mate Vinod Kambli. Dhanawade also received a cherished gift from Tendulkar, who presented an autographed bat to the young boy. 

On January 4, West Indian hitter Chris Gayle landed himself in an unseemly controversy for all the wrong reasons. The Melbourne Renegades batsman spoke objectionably to a female TV reporter Mel McLaughlin shortly after he was dismissed for a 15-ball 41. Renegades were chasing 141 runs required for victory over Hobart Hurricanes in a Big Bash League match at Bellerive Oval and Gayle was probably angry with himself at getting out. Gayle reportedly told the woman TV presenter that he hoped his side would win and proposed to have drinks with her afterwards. It is well known that Gayle maintains a lavish and lewd lifestyle but he was not expected to tell the lady; “don’t blush baby”. Gayle’s comments didn’t go well with BBL head Anthony Everard, who promised stern action against Gayle. In a related report, Channel-10 confirmed that henceforth, they would not involve Gayle in the TV coverage for the rest of the tournament. Gayle has since apologized but the damage is already done.

Chris Gayle

In India, the Lodha Panel Report on functioning of Board of Control for Cricket in India is creating waves. The report covers all aspect of cricket with special focus on BCCI’s administration, governance and transparency. An important off-shoot of Lodha report aims at TV economy, whereby airing of commercials has been vastly restricted during the telecast of Tests and ODIs in India. As per the report, there should be no TV commercial breaks at the end of overs and such breaks can only be made during Lunch, Tea and drinks intervals. This may affect the earnings of BCCI, who collects millions of rupees from advertisers. If the dictat becomes operational, BCCI will raise the commercial rates sky high. It is obvious that the Panel report has deemed the audience’s involvement with the game as supreme.