The ICC world cup match between India and South Africa had been the talk of the town, not only because of India’s spectacular win but also due to the former captain MS Dhoni’s brilliant display of patriotism. He was seen sporting the regimental dagger insignia of the Para Special Forces of the Indian Army, known as the Balidaan symbol. Only the Para Commandos of the Indian army are allowed to wear the Balidaan Badge which MS Dhoni is fully entitled to, given the fact that he is an honorary rank holder in the Indian Army’s Parachute Regiment.
The move had led to proud Indians proclaiming their utmost respect for the former captain and the cricket team. However, the ICC seems to be extremely disturbed by this and has “requested the BCCI to get it removed”. They have cited their Clothing and Equipment Rules and Regulations, under G 1, which states that players cannot sport personal messages “which relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes”.
The chairman of Indian Premier League, Rajeev Shukla said the ICC should not have any objection to let MS Dhoni wear the gloves as there is no commercial aspect involved in the gesture. “It’s not a commercial or a religious thing. It’s only about the country’s pride. So I don’t think the ICC should have any objection because it has got nothing to do with commercial endorsements,” Rajeev Shukla said.
In light of this, BCCI has backed MS Dhoni. Committee of Administrators (CoA) chief Vinod Rai stated that BCCI has written a letter to the International Cricket Council (ICC) seeking permission for Dhoni to wear the gloves with the army badge. “We have already written and we will speak more after the meeting,” Vinod Rai said.
Claire Furlong, ICC General Manager, Strategic Communications has confirmed the BCCI’s request and said the decision will only be taken by the apex body of world cricket. “As of now, I do not know. It would need to be considered by the ICC,” she was quoted as saying by ANI news agency.
It is clear that the ICC is making a mountain out of a molehill. There is no valid cause as the being a symbol of the Armed Forces, the Balidaan Badge does not fit in the prohibited category.
For the integrity and sovereignty of the country, the Armed Forces must be shown respect at this point of time, especially in light of the number of external attacks on the country in the recent past. To uphold and honour the Indian Army, the BCCI must put its foot down and exert the influence and power they have over ICC as BCCI, being the richest cricket body in the world, practically controls cricket events across the globe.
ICC generates its money from tournaments such as the Cricket World Cup and Champions Trophy, amongst others. The majority (more than 80 percent) of the income of these tournaments comes from India. Therefore, the revenue generated from India not only bankrolls ICC but also goes to other 106 members of the organization. As per the analysis of ICC’s revenue, all other full-time members except India contribute 0.1 percent to 5 percent in the total earnings of the organization. So essentially, the money the boards of all other cricket playing nations are getting comes from the pockets of Indians.
BCCI and the Indian players have always abided by all the rules of the ICC and MS Dhoni’s gloves do not violate any of them. Recently, after the Pulwama terror attack, the entire Indian team was seen sporting camouflage caps in their bid to pay tribute to the security personnel. Similarly, in 2018, the England and Indian cricket teams had united in their recognition of the Indian veterans who fought in World War I alongside England by wearing a khadi poppy, which was identical to the traditional British symbol of remembrance of the war dead. At that point of time, this move had been much appreciated and hadn’t yielded any backlash by either the ICC or any other individual.
Rather than accepting the status quo, the BCCI needs to be nationalistic. Indian cricket lovers practically bankroll ICC as well as finances cricket in almost every other country in the world. If BCCI pressurizes ICC with withdrawal from the World Cup, the international cricket body will be forced to let the matter go. The BCCI has the power of bringing the cricketing world to its knees, of bankrupting the ICC and almost every other cricketing board in the world.