Sticking to its stand that a personal message on the cricket gear was in breach of rules, the International Cricket Council declined the Indian Board’s request on Friday to allow Mahendra Singh Dhoni to continue sporting the insignia of the Territorial Army’s parachute regiment on his wicket-keeping gloves.
With India building up for their high-profile clash with holders Australia in Trent Bridge on Sunday, the focus was on whether the world body will allow the skipper of the 2011 World Cup triumph to sport the ‘balidaan’ (sacrifice) emblem. (Full Coverage of ICC World Cup 2019)
A senior ICC official was quoted as requiring Dhoni to remove the emblem after he sported it during the June 5 win over South Africa. The BCCI backed Dhoni and requested the world body for permission. However, it was declined.
“The ICC has responded to the BCCI to confirm the logo displayed by MS Dhoni in the previous match is not permitted to be worn on his wicket-keeping gloves at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019,” an ICC statement said.
“The regulations for ICC events do not permit any individual message or logo to be displayed on any items of clothing or equipment. In addition to this, the logo also breaches the regulations in relation to what is permitted on wicketkeeper gloves.”
ICC rules state, “Players and team officials shall not be permitted to wear, display or otherwise convey messages through arm bands or other items affixed to clothing or equipment (personal messages) unless approved by both the player or team official’s Board and the ICC Cricket Operations Department.”
It is learnt, BCCI, governed by the Committee of Administrators, won’t look to escalate the matter. CoA head Vinod Rai had earlier on Friday denied there was any confrontation with ICC. “We will follow the ICC norms 100 per cent,” he said after attending a CoA meeting in Mumbai.
CoA member, Lt Gen (Retd) Ravi Thodge, had also said Dhoni will abide by any ICC decision. “Every armyman wears his badge with pride. Dhoni must have done it too. It is not that big an issue. We’ve written to ICC. If they allow, he’ll wear. If they don’t, he won’t.”
The BCCI has argued that Dhoni didn’t violate ICC rules on personal message as he is an honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the parachute regiment of the Territorial Army, whose emblem he displayed.
The Indian Board equated the gesture with the team wearing camouflage caps in an ODI against Australia in Ranchi in March. While BCCI had received prior approval from ICC then, Dhoni had not informed the Board this time.
Dhoni though received overwhelming support at home. Union sports minister Kiren Rijiju had also urged BCCI to resolve it. “When the issue concerns the sentiments of the country, the interest of the nation has to be kept in mind. I urge the BCCI to take an appropriate step in the Mahendra Singh Dhoni issue,” he tweeted.
Through the day, a deluge of reaction poured in on Twitter with the hashtag ‘DhoniKeepTheGlove’.
Dhoni’s India and Chennai Super Kings’ teammate Suresh Raina tweeted: “While we are on the field, we devote ourselves to our country & we give all we can to make India proud. We all love our country & that’s exactly @msdhoni has done, saluting the sacrifices of our heroes & honouring them. It should be taken as an act of patriotism & not nationalism.”
The BCCI old guard, sidelined as the governance reforms directed by the Supreme Court is being implemented, criticised what it saw as a climbdown by the Board. “It is a lack of experience in dealing with ICC. They may be good in other walks of life but have come across as weak in cricket administration. We have diluted our powers in ICC,” said a veteran administrator.
Former BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah had an ingenious solution: “What if Dhoni had a tattoo of the badge on his hand?”
As per ICC rules, only commercial or manufacturer’s logos are not allowed when it comes to ‘visible tattoos’. Many cricketers, including Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan, sport tattoos of religious figures.