The BCCI has dropped bowler Mohammad Shami from its list of centrally contracted players. This decision came after his wife accused him of infidelity and domestic abuse.The board has also has not given any official statement on the exclusion.
ThePrint asks: Is the BCCI right in excluding Mohammad Shami over marital discord?
Will the board act similarly if a player is involved in a property dispute?
Senior sports journalist, columnist and commentator
Mohammad Shami is obviously involved in bitter marital discord that does not do his reputation any good. But is it the BCCI’s job to intervene in players’ personal matters?
There are several sportspersons, including cricketers, who have had rocky – or failed – marriages, but unless it directly impinges upon the functioning of a team or the sport, they are left to fight their own battles.
For example, tennis star Leander Paes has been locked in a protracted divorce case, but that has not been used as grounds to deny him a place in the Davis Cup squad, or participation in international tournaments.
To hold back Shami’s contract on ‘ethical grounds’ is presumptive (about his guilt), and ambiguous in scope. Marital strife makes for a juicy story, but will the board act similarly if a player is involved in, say, a property dispute?
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The BCCI has reportedly said it will take a call on Shami’s contract in a few days, after an investigation, when, in fact, it should have been the other way around: give him the contract and pull the plug if the investigation so necessitates.
The board’s decision is driven by allegations and perception, not legal position. The charges against Shami are very serious, of course, but await legal inquiry.
If he were arrested for violence against his wife, for instance, the BCCI’s decision would be absolutely justified.
Excluding Shami is a feudal reaction from the board
Senior sports journalist and columnist
The BCCI’s announcement of its central contracts and Mohammad Shami’s wife’s allegations against him surfaced on the same day. Even if the board didn’t want to be seen condoning domestic violence, where was the need to take such drastic action without establishing facts first?
The board should officially explain the reason for withholding his contract, as whatever has appeared in the media is source-based. Done without knowing the real facts, this appears more like moral policing.
Nobody condones cricketers or sportsmen mistreating their wives, but we need to hear from both sides first. All we know is that she is accusing him of infidelity and torture, which the player has denied.
It is a domestic issue they may sort out later. For the BCCI, especially cricket administrators who have not been able to force the board to implement the Lodha reforms for more than a year, to show such swiftness in punishing the player is quite strange.
They should have let the law take its own course and the police decide the veracity of these allegations. We are selecting players and grading them for the central contract — unless Shami has done something wrong in the field of play or as part of the team, he should not have been penalised on the basis of a complaint.
The English cricket board also took action against Ben Stokes, but only after a video appeared in which he was seen beating up a couple of guys in a late-night roadside brawl.
This is a feudal reaction from a board that otherwise takes so much time to decide on other important issues like administrative or policy matters.
BCCI’s action against Shami is prudent & gives women strength to rise against powerful men
Poet and feminist
It’s very easy to claim that Mohammad Shami’s wife Hasin Jahan’s allegations of adultery against him are matters of private nature, and hence shouldn’t dragged into his contract with BCCI. It’s easier still to claim that ‘all men’ do this. The matter at hand gets more complex when you realise Jahan has also alleged domestic violence by Shami – an accusation which, if proven right, should lead to strict legal action.
The BCCI has simply stayed his contract pending investigation, a wise decision on its part. It’s prudent, and abides by its ethics policy. If the man isn’t guilty, he has nothing to fear in the investigation.
I’m glad what has happened has happened, because it sets an excellent precedent for men who think their talent and clout can absolve them of violence against women. For once, the due process is aiding a woman instead of hampering her, and social media quips aside, I hope more women find the strength to rise up against powerful men through this action.
BCCI must not punish Shami, who is presumed innocent until proven guilty
Editor, Investigation and Special Reports, ThePrint
Within hours of Mohammad Shami’s wife accusing him of having extra-marital affairs and indulging in domestic violence, the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators running the BCCI decided to put on hold offering a new central contract to Shami.
The CoA, it appears, has decided to “verify facts” before taking a final call on whether to offer a new contract to the cricketer.
Headed by former CAG Vinod Rai, CoA will have to tread very carefully on the issue, because if it, or any other such committee, decides to ignore the rightful claims of a professional to a post – or a contract in Shami’s case – only because there’s an allegation against him (Shami’s wife hasn’t even filed a police complaint against him), it must remember the rule that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Incidentally, such is the universal acknowledgment of this principle that even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN general assembly way back in 1948 refers to it.
Article 11 of the declaration reads: Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
Shami has been accused and only time and a fair trail – if the matter reaches that stage – will show if Shami is actually guilty of domestic violence or not.
If the CoA decides to ignore Shami without waiting for the case to be decided by a court, it will be doing the sport a great disservice.
Fair play, BCCI. Domestic abuse cannot and should not be condoned
Mohammad Shami being excluded from the list of central contracts is fact; wife Hasin Jahan’s allegations being the reason for it could be mere speculation. After all, the BCCI hasn’t given an official explanation for the exclusion.
But the reasons certainly don’t seem to be cricket-related – after all, Shami was the highest wicket taker for India in the recent Test series in South Africa, with his five-wicket haul in the final Test at Johannesburg being a decisive spell. In Test matches at home too, he has been an able foil for spinners R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Contracts are supposed to be performance-based, and Shami is part of the core bowling unit in Tests for India. At best, he could have been demoted a grade because he is largely a one-format player now, like batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who still finds himself in the Grade A contracts list. Even that is difficult to fathom because the likes of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, and Jayant Yadav have been awarded central contracts. Jayant Yadav has not played a single match since the Australia Test series at home.
So, it all comes back to Jahan’s allegations of infidelity and domestic abuse. The administrators’ decision to drop Shami from the list could possibly raise questions whether they have any right to take decisions based on the personal matters of any sportsperson.
But consider the international movement against sexual harassment and crimes against women. In the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Hollywood has gone to town ostracising prominent actors and other professionals who have been accused of sexual harassment.
The BCCI has always been mired in controversies but their stand on domestic abuse should be seen in a positive light.
Compiled by Talha Ashraf, Journalist at ThePrint.
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