Arjuna Award row: BCCI-Sports Ministry spat might hurt Yuvraj Singh the most

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Sports Ministry got into a spat over official forms for nominating cricketers for the Arjuna and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awards this year. The power house of Indian sports have been playing a blame game since the time the news break that no cricketer has been nominated for the awards.

BCCI said that they did not receive any forms for nominating the players and also claimed that this was the first time that they faced this issue.

The ministry however rubbished BCCI’s statement saying that the ministry issued a circular on Jan 28 by post inviting nominations for Arjuna and other awards to all national sports federations and the BCCI. Ministry also accused BCCI saying that their only focus was on IPL and they only care about it.

But no one is thinking about the players who have suffered because of the immaturity shown by the organizations. India won the World Cup last year and there should have been several contenders who could have fit the requirement for the awards and the biggest contender out of the lot who deserved a nomination is India’s star batsman Yuvraj Singh.

Yuvraj has been playing for India from the past 12 years and he has performed brilliantly for India in both one-dayers and T20s. It will be very hard to understand for any cricket fans that why Yuvraj has not got an Arjuna Award till yet, because he surely deserves that.

Let’s have a look at the eligibility criteria for receiving an Arjuna Award: A sportsperson should have had not only good performance consistently for the previous three years at the international level with excellence for the  last year, 2011 but also should have shown qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and a sense of discipline. However, sportsperson found positive for use of prohibited / banned drugs shall not be considered for the award. 

So now the question that arises is that is there any area where Yuvraj lacks? Let’s take it step by step.

A sportsperson needs to be consistent for the past three years: Yuvraj has been consistent since the time he joined the national team. Yes, there has been time where he has not performed in a series or two, but there hasn’t been a single year in which this explosive left-hander has not played a match winning innings. Yuvraj has played 274 one-day matches for India in which he has scored 8051 runs at an average of 38 and a blistering strike rate of 88. He has scored 13 hundreds for India and most of them have been match winning knocks. No one can forget his role in India winning the inaugural T20 World Cup.

Player should have shown excellence in the previous year: If being the man-of-the-series in the cricket World Cup does not prove a players excellence than nothing can prove it. He was the star for India in their win; he scored 362 runs in the tournament with an average of 90. With the ball he took 15 wickets and was the second highest wicket taker for India in the tournament. He played some magical innings and won India many matches with both bat and ball.

Sportsperson should have leadership quality and should be disciplined: Yuvraj Singh has always displayed good leadership skills; he has been the vice-captain for India in the past and the best thing about him that he is committed to the team’s cause. He has played some very responsible innings, be it the Nat West final in Lords, or the quarterfinal against Australian in the World Cup. Yuvraj has matured with time and has always motivated the young members of the team. On field, Yuvraj is much disciplined, there have not been any report of him missing team meetings or skipping the practice sessions. Yuvraj loves playing cricket and is a role-model for so many budding cricketers.

Indian cricketers have always kept their distances from banned drugs and Yuvraj is one of them. So, it is proved that Yuvraj was eligible in all the criteria and should have been nominated to say the least.

Now, let’s discuss the major thing, was this the last chance for Yuvraj to win the medal?

Yuvraj Singh unfortunately was diagnosed with cancer and has been undergoing treatment from the past few months. The news broke just after India’s World Cup triumph and shocked the entire cricket fraternity. The good news is that Yuvraj is feeling better and there are chances that he will be seen in the domestic circuit quite soon. But, will he be able to replicate his performance?

He won India the World Cup and didn’t get nominated, so after fighting such deadly disease will Yuvraj be able to fulfill the eligibility criteria. Aren’t there chances that some of the young players like Kohli or Rohit Sharma will be preferred over him, the next time? Yuvraj has been resting and he only knows when he will be back, won’t his rest period kill his chances of getting an award?

It is true that cricketers are super rich, but does that mean that they won’t get any recognition even when they deserve it. It is a well-known fact that Olympians have a far better chance of winning an Arjuna Award than cricketers. Cricket is a team sport that may be one reason, but isn’t hockey a team sport as well. Five players from the hockey team Sardar Singh, Shivendra Singh, Tushar Khandekar, Arjun Halappa, Bharat Chettri have been nominated. It is not that they don’t deserve that, they qualified for the Olympics after eight years, but didn’t India win the cricket World Cup last year, didn’t the star of that team deserve a place among these other sporting stars of the nation.