Mumbai Lobby The Myth: For years civilization has associated the word ‘Lobby’ with politics. The word lobby would tend to include a nefarious group of people intending to influence politicians or public officials on particular issues. In layman’s terms, ‘You scratch my back and I will scratch yours.’ (Mumbai Lobby The Myth)
Over the years, Mumbai Cricket Association or MCA as they are popularly known, have contributed immensely with cricketers who have gone on to represent India. We can roll back time and see immense names from the likes of Ajit Wadekar, Chandrakant Pandit, Dilip Vengsarkar, and Sunil Gavaskar to name a few. This can also be attributed to the number of times Mumbai has won the coveted Ranji Trophy.
India and BCCI as diverse as we have been, have had a selection criteria that, until a few decades back (1960-1990) was based on zones. Those were the times when we saw the likes of Yajurvindra Singh, T.E. Srinivasan, Raman Lamba and Parthasarathy Sharma get International caps. (Mumbai Lobby The Myth)
Their records in Internationals speak for themselves. I would believe that domestic players performing in Ranji’s who were making a difference managed to get an International call to counter the zonal selection or a predominantly Mumbai based selection. In the early 90’s and before that, Ranji Trophy was probably the only domestic trophy that we could attribute to being a primary factor for selection criteria. (Mumbai Lobby The Myth)
Between 1960 and 1990, 30 seasons of Ranji Trophy were played out of which Mumbai happened to win on 20 occasions. Since 1990, the commercialization of Cricket in India has increased tenfold. That mean’s the cash influx has increased, which in turn has bettered the available infrastructure throughout India. This may be evident in how Mumbai has won on 12 occasions out of the 30 with 13 other teams sharing the honors of winning the oldest cricketing trophy on the other 18 occasions. (Mumbai Lobby The Myth)
Since 2008, IPL and performances in IPL have been a massive factor in player selections. Not wanting to stay behind, Mumbai Indians have yet again been on the Winner’s board 5 times out of the 14. The MI team has been built around a captain that has represented India as a player and is now the captain in all three formats under some questionable circumstances replacing Virat Kohli who is probably a bigger brand name in world cricket. Although Virat is going through a lean patch on a personal batting front, losing his Test Captaincy was something that was not anticipated by many.
This is where the conspiracy theory comes through. In recent times we have seen players getting an extended run irrespective of their performances on the International stage. Rahane being a prime example of this who has always been defended or ‘questions being deflected’ towards a non-performing Virat Kohli, his then captain. Surprisingly enough the media mouthpiece on all these occasions who has had the loudest voice has been the Little Master – Sunil Gavaskar. Needless to say Hardik Pandya’s extended run with half his abilities, or his brother getting an international cap strictly on the basis of IPL performances tend to undermine some of the other consistent performers from the other states. (Mumbai Lobby The Myth)
Playing a Devil’s advocate, we also had a certain Sachin Tendulkar who took the likes of Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh under his wings or suggested Sharad Pawar to consider Dhoni to lead India. Let us also not forget Vengsarkar’s push to fast track Virat Kohli into the team when he was a selector. Virat’s ouster as a captain comes under Ganguly’s regime as a Chairman led by Chetan Sharma’s selection committee.
There was an era in cricket where Sachin Tendulkar was the only representation from Mumbai and there was a march that was planned against a selection committee headed by Ramakant Desai that left out the likes of Sairaj Bahutule, Sanjay Manjrekar and Vinod Kambli from traveling to South Africa. (Mumbai Lobby The Myth)
It followed with a statement made by Sambaran Banerjee to the effect that he did not want to hear the name of a single Bombay player spoken in his presence. It was believed that, that statement was the trigger of a zonal war. (Mumbai Lobby The Myth)
After winning 41 out of the 61 seasons of Ranji trophy and 5 of the 14 IPL seasons, it may be evident that Mumbai has the luck of producing match winners. On the other hand there may be some truth to the lobby after all because Sunil Gavaskar still happens to find himself a job as a commentator who hit a new low with his comments on Shane Warne. Lobby or no lobby, it is at times we do believe the Little Master should call it quits on his career in the box. (Mumbai Lobby The Myth)