The Indian cricket team has started the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 on a great note with a clinical win against South Africa in Southampton. The bowling, led by Yuzvendra Chahal and the batting, led by the brilliance of Rohit Sharma helped India to a commanding win. During the course of the game, there was a visual of MS Dhoni sporting the insignia of the Indian Army. The 'Balidaan Badge' or the Army insignia was spotted on Dhoni's gloves. Balidaan is a distinct insignia of the special forces, which form part of the Parachute Regiment. Only Paramilitary Commandos are allowed to wear the Balidaan Badge.
Initially, there was plenty of admiration for Dhoni, with many on social media praising the former India skipper’s love for the army. Many admired his patriotism. However, the occasion turned sour when the ICC requested the BCCI to get the symbol removed from Dhoni's gloves. Immediately, the mood turned against the decision. The #IndiaWithDhoni and #KeepTheGlove hashtags started trending on Twitter. Many people urged Dhoni to keep wearing the glove. Many media outlets, in the garb of hypernationalism, propagated that Dhoni should not let the ICC dictate terms and that he should keep the glove. Many others urged the ICC to focus on umpiring blunders and stay off Dhoni’s gloves. In the end, the ICC told the BCCI that the symbol was not permitted to be worn on his wicket-keeping gloves and the regulations do not permit any individual message or logo to be displayed on any items of clothing or equipment.
The Dhoni glove controversy is an unnecessary distraction when Virat Kohli’s side are about to encounter their toughest test in five-time world champions Australia. The Committee of Administrators (CoA) head Vinod Rai did not give a good impression when he said that the dagger insignia was not a military symbol when at the beginning, it was mentioned that the Balidaan Badge can be worn by Para commandos only.
Why BCCI, Dhoni is on the back foot?
There can be no justification about the Dhoni symbol and the defence presented by the Indian public or the BCCI. There are clear cut rules on the ICC related to clothing, equipment and Insignias. The ICC statement on clothing and regulations state, “The regulations do not permit the display of messages that relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes during an international game.”
The regulations on Insignia is very important in this context. The ICC clearly states, “Any insignia worn by any player shouldn't have any religious, military, or commercial significance.” The word military is very important here. In no sporting event, be it the World Cup or Olympics, has any player escaped unscathed when using symbols or items to show patriotism or a political statement. Moeen Ali, the England cricket all-rounder, was banned from sporting the Free Palestine, Save Gaza wristbands while two American athletes were banned from the 1968 Mexico City Olympics for the Black Power fist salute. In both cases, any statement on the field of play, be it symbolic or political, was dealt with severely and the ICC only followed the precedent that “It is just a game.”
What was different in the Special Caps in Ranchi ODI?
The India vs Australia series was played in the aftermath of the Pulwama Terror Attack which killed 40 jawans. During the Ranchi ODI, MS Dhoni handed out special Army camouflage caps to the Indian cricket team just before the start of the match against Australia. There was outrage about the display of nationalism. However, since this was a bilateral series and it was hosted by the BCCI, they had the right to conduct such an event. They even took permission from the ICC which was given. In the case of Dhoni’s Army insignia, the BCCI did the basic mistake of not even asking the ICC for permission.
Since the World Cup is a global event by the ICC, the rules and regulations of the apex body count. The ICC has been consistent in ensuring political statements are not made on the cricket pitch. Dhoni and the BCCI are not exceptions to the norm. With the high-voltage clash against Pakistan coming up on June 16, the insignia row shows how misplaced the sense of patriotism is among the modern Indian public.
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