Chetan Sharma Sting Operation: For aeons, countless reports claimed that things were not right in the dressing room of the Indian cricket team. These reports clearly highlighted personal ego battles at stack based on developments on and off the field. Yet, BCCI kept refuting all these “credible” media reports of factions in the team. The Apex Cricket Board exploited the weak points of the Indian cricket fans.
To avoid accountability, the BCCI allowed these reports to die in torturous ways. Evidently, by the time some local “Pan Masala Premier Paytm” bilateral series starts in the subcontinent, the exemplified performance of Team India paints a momentarily demi-godish image that becomes unquestionable and unaccountable.
The Chetan Sharma Sting Operation
Such damning reports came and went quickly without yielding any positive change on the ground. Nonetheless, the team selection process functioned as if it were a lottery. With the end result determined by the whims and fancies of the power duos of captain and selector, in the specific order. But as they say, there is no smoke without fire.
By the recent fool-hardy acceptance of these very issues, the STING operation that captured former cricketer Chetan Sharma making damning revelations has brought the BCCI to the cusp of a possible firestorm. This can either completely change the selection process or completely adrift fans from the Game itself courtesy of these meritless, autocratic and demi-Godish sermonising attitudes of the otherwise Non-Performing players.
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What’s the controversy all about?
Let’s break it down to the basics first. Who are the players involved, and what is this buzzword “Sting operation”? Going ahead, we’ll gradually delve into the revelations made by the Sting operation.
Firstly, Chetan Sharma is a former Indian cricketer who represented the Indian national team from 1984 to 1989. The right-arm medium-fast bowler is famously remembered for his exploits in the 1987 Cricket World Cup. Back then, he became the first Indian bowler to take a hat-trick in a World Cup match.
Secondly, a sting operation in the media is like a secret investigation done by journalists to expose awful things. They use hidden cameras or recording devices to collect proof of what’s happening.
Although we are not here to vouch for the credibility of the said sting operation, the dismal performance of Team India and similar reports doing the rounds every now and then compels us to not completely rub it off. So, here are the main takeaways from Chief Selector Chetan Sharma Sting Operation.
Mr. Sharma raked up many incriminating issues, ranging from the use of fake fitness injections to certificates from the National Cricketing Authority (NCA) by Indian players. The former cricketer also expressed his take on the Sourav Ganguly and Virat Kohli fiasco, favoritism, and the possible rot in the current selection process.
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The major pointers of Chetan Sharma Sting Operation
- On the Ganguly-Kohli dispute episode, Chief Selector Chetan Sharma insinuated that Kohli was lying and that only Kohli could elaborate on the reasons behind it. Yet, on his part, Chetan Sharma, on multiple times categorically referred to it as a “battle of ego” and stated that Virat desired vengeance.
In the sting operation, Mr Chetan Sharma said, “When a cricketer becomes big, he feels that he can do anything and conquer anyone. So, he (Kohli) went after the President (Ganguly). Sourav Ganguly never said a word about the issue to me, but Kohli wanted to go after him”.
- As per Chetan Sharma, the possible reason for Virat hatching revenge against Ganguly could be the fact that Kohli thought Ganguly was the reason for his ouster from the white ball captaincy.
He said, “Virat Kohli felt he lost the captaincy because of the BCCI President. There were 9 people in the selection committee video conference, Ganguly may have told him ‘think about it once’. I think Kohli didn’t hear it, there were 9 others there including myself and all other selectors, BCCI officials – Kohli might not have heard him”.
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This purported “ego battle” between Ganguly and Kohli dates back to December 2021. At that time, Virat Kohli had voluntarily given up on the T20 captaincy. The BCCI decided to relieve Kohli of his one-day captaincy role as they worked on a plan to have one skipper lead the white ball side.
This became the reason for a possible rift between Kohli and Ganguly. Estranged by this development, Kohli, in a press conference, needlessly raked up this issue, and as per Chetan Sharma, he deliberately contradicted Ganguly to take revenge from him, which badly backfired on him.
Similarly, Mr. Sharma tried to downplay the reports of a rift between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. For this, he gave the analogy of Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra. However, he did highlight that both of them lead their own groups within the team.
- Going ahead with the sting operation, Mr Chetan Sharma starts indulging in “headline hunting” with the reporter. He emphasised that rather than saying that the selectors were favouring Rohit Sharma, the reporter should peddle the news that Ganguly and the selectors were against Virat Kohli. He desperately wanted the reporter to peg it like that.
This headline hunting was very similar to what we had seen before. If you recall, there was a similar headline hunting episode in which an infamous “Krantikari” journalist was caught on camera fixing the news line with a big time politician.
Also read: Contrary to popular media reports, Kohli fans and Mamata’s opinion, Saurav Ganguly resigned from BCCI willingly
The Game within the Game
Mr. Chetan Sharma boasted arrogantly that he, along with other selectors, will decide who will play for Team India and who will be the future of Indian cricket. On a similar note, Chief Selector Sharma claimed that it was he who sacked Virat Kohli from the skipper post because he began to believe he was greater than the game.
On the fitness issue of the players, Mr. Sharma absolved himself of his duties. With the excuse that the selectors have to “look after” over 2500 players, it is not possible for them to gather information on their fake fitness claim or possible intake of non-prohibitory drugs through injection.
Accusing the players of using fake certificates and undeclared injections to shoot up their fitness, Chetan Sharma highlighted the injury scare of Bumrah to explain this castigation of virtually the entire Indian team for using “unannounced substances.”
He said, “The players are not fit but they take injections to play. They are ready to play even at 80 percent fitness. They take injections and start playing”.
The Sting Operation of Chetan Sharma further disclosed how “influential” players like Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya influence the Chief Selector and how these major players use breaks to plan their removal from the team.
Mr. Sharma, the chairman of selectors, once again gave the selectors a clean chit but threw the Indian captains under the bus. He claimed that there is no favouritism in the team selection process; however, the captains have their own preferred group of players.
Mr Sharma also stated that he has good relationships with captain Rohit Sharma and all-rounder Hardik Pandya. He added that Hardik regularly visits his house, and even when Rohit calls him, their conversation usually goes on for as long as 30 minutes.
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The eternal debate of politics within the game and the Mighty Mumbai lobby
The most damning outcome of this sting operation of Chetan Sharma appears to have reignited the never-ending debate about the Mumbai cricket lobby wielding undue influence over the selection process, as well as the debate over capabilities and a positive or negative aura surrounding certain players based on their zonal teams in domestic tournaments.
So, who is part of the current Mumbai lobby, and what is the powerplay exerted by these lobbies?
Former cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar is said to spearhead this zonal group of cricketers. At one point in time, players from Mumbai or nearby areas dominated the international team. Consequently, they exert a worrying influence on team selection, the debate around the current greats of the game, and the choices of captain and vice captain. Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Ajit Agarkar, Ajinkya Rahane, Wasim Jaffer, Rohit Sharma, Zaheer Khan, Ravi Shastri, Sanjay Manjrekar, Dilip Vengsarkar, and Shreyas Iyer are some of the unmissable names from the Mumbai region. The region is said to enjoy the clout of politicians like Sharad Pawar and his nephew, Ajit Pawar, among others.
It is not just that number dominance surely means something fishy. But from time to time, this uncanny dominance has demonstrated ordinary zonal favoritism. It is an undeniable fact that the majority of us have some inherent bias, and a little can’t be dubbed as wrong. But the fact is that this dominance has exerted authority to veto selection processes, captaincies, vice captaincies, and even wicket-keeping choices in the name of independent expert opinion and lobbying for other cricket-related things.
In the past, this dominance of the Mumbai lobby was challenged by Delhi or even Saurashtra cricketers or other players like politicians from that region. Virendra Sehwag and Gautam Gambir challenged this in the recent past with the support of BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley. Gautam Gambir, in particular, has brought several promising talents from the region, with Navdeep Saini being the most prominent example of it.
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Similarly, earlier BCCI President Jagmohan Dalmia, along with then Captain Sourabh Ganguly, breached the unassailable forte of the Mumbai lobby in the cricket arena.
As a result, the recent back-to-back hit-job and smear campaign against Virat Kohli, as well as the catalysing statements and controversies that led to his ouster, reeks of a Mumbai lobby conspiracy. When the time came to bury the hatchet forever, Virat, who struggled with the bat, gave up the captaincy, and this controversy highlighting carry favours to certain players who also hail from a certain region smacks of the same.
The analogy of a bee sting is apt to describe the impact of a sting operation, as it can often result in significant consequences for both the perpetrators and the targets of the sting. The Tehelka sting operation conducted by Tarun Tejpal is a prime example of the former.
In contrast, the STING operation involving Chetan Sharma has shed light on issues within the cricketing world, potentially leading to significant changes in the sport. As we wait to see what the future holds, it is essential to continue holding those in positions of power accountable for their actions.
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