PASSIONS INFLAMED: The cricket protestHonourable Members of Parliament, if we may be so intemperate as to interrupt your nation building and proffer an observation. Your spirited protest after the cricket team’s miseries in South Africa has proved that India’s sporting future is secure and in caring hands.The impact of such,PASSIONS INFLAMED: The cricket protestHonourable Members of Parliament, if we may be so intemperate as to interrupt your nation building and proffer an observation. Your spirited protest after the cricket team’s miseries in South Africa has proved that India’s sporting future is secure and in caring hands.The impact of such passionate involvement was immediately felt: the nexus of the businessmen and er… politicians that runs the BCCI was humbled. The team was forced to buttress its defences (particularly around the gates of players’ homes). The fact that the coach masterminded an adjournment of Parliament means that formulating a World Cup master plan will be chicken feed. All introspection is healthy.Naturally, athletes from other disciplines now expect the MPs to be as vociferous and strident on other sporting issues where India’s pride is being muddied:Like how our men’s hockey team can have the 17 changes of coach in 12 years, and only one Asian Games gold and one Junior World Cup to show for it? Or how world-class centre half Viren Rasquinha was axed from the Asiad squad on grounds of fitness? In five fitness tests, he finished under the stipulated nine minutes in four out of five 2.4 km runs and was in the top three in the 40 m speed tests.Like how it is that after being a force in the women’s game, India is now a doping pariah in weightlifting? Banned for a year and forced to stay out of the Doha Asian Games, with the 2008 Olympics in doubt, because a $50,000 (Rs 22 lakh) fine must be paid before the team can compete again.advertisementAlso, how is it that coaches sacked after dope scandals were welcomed back, including the notorious Pal Singh Sandhu as “advisor”-this after he was “banned for life” after our first positive dope tests at an Olympics (Athens 2004). And those who have presided over escalating positive dope tests, remain in office expressing regret.Like why is it, by coach Laszlo Scuzak’s reckoning, that our shooters can only get in 70 days of training a year as opposed to their rivals’ 270 training days for want of ammunition? It is, they say, like asking a diver to pull out his best dive-into 10 cm of water.Like, why is it that 12 months after signing a Rs 270-crore-plus 10-year deal with Zee Sports, the All India Football Federation has no formal youth development programme up and running? And India’s ranking, 148 this month, is behind Grenada, Maldives and Swaziland, its under-20s unable to win a SAF Games title.MPs don’t have to go far to demand answers for our sport, just look across Parliament benchesLike how, after a six-month search, the country’s best woman pole vaulter V.S. Surekha couldn’t get the best fibre glass pole a week before the Asian Games. The import through the Government was taking too long so she paid for the Rs 30,000 pole herself. Indian vaulters use the same pole in training and in competition whereas their competitors use several.Like whether it is reasonable to spend around Rs 28 crore on an 11-minute function at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony in Melbourne? Rs 28 crore could fund 10 hockey astro-turfs in India with enough left over to fund training sessions in the world’s best athletics facilities for four years. The loose change would buy a couple of pole vaults each for Surekha and friends.There’s enough here for Parliament to get shirty about, heads that can be demanded, prime candidates being K.P.S. Gill in hockey, Balbir Singh Bhatia in weightlifting. What’s even better the MPs don’t have to go as far as South Africa.All they have to do is look across the benches and demand answers: from Suresh Kalmadi of the Indian Olympic Association, also athletics boss, Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi and/or Praful Patel of the All India Football Federation, Vijay Kumar Malhotra in archery, the Chautala brothers, Ajay and Abhay in boxing and table tennis.Now they may not be as easy targets as the Indian cricketers, but they all deserve a cheap shot or two.