Dhoni has to remove army insignia, says ICC

IN A SPOT MS Dhoni’s decision to sport the ‘Balidaan’ insignia on his gloves generated plenty of heat. AFP

Notwithstanding the needless fury in India over ICC’s move to have the regimental dagger insignia on M S Dhoni’s wicketkeeping gloves removed, the world governing body has stuck to its guns.

Even as Dhoni fans continued to vent their anger -- fuelled by a section of the media -- and forced even the union government to throw its weight behind the stumper, the ICC made it clear that the logo displayed by the former India skipper wasn’t permitted to be worn.

“The ICC has responded to the BCCI to confirm the logo displayed by M S 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,” a statement by Claire Furlong, ICC General Manager - Strategic Communications, 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 wicketkeepers’ gloves.”

The chief of BCCI’s Committee of Administrators Vinod Rai appeared to soften his earlier demand of allowing Dhoni to sport the insignia. Terming the development as a "non-issue" after insisting that the insignia didn’t violate any ICC guideline, Rai said the BCCI would “play the game by the rules of the ICC in letter and spirit” and sought for some flexibility from the ICC.

“If there is a specific norm that has to be followed, we will not break that norm. However, if there is any flexibility available, we have sought permission for the ICC to allow the player to wear the gloves," Rai was quoted as saying by Cricinfo.

However, playing to the gallery, union sports minister Kiren Rijiju looked to complicate the issue further. “The government doesn't intervene in affairs of sports bodies. But when the issue is related to the country's sentiments, then the interest of the nation has to be kept in mind. I would like to request BCCI to take up the matter with ICC," Rijiju said on Friday.

Dhoni has also violated another ICC stipulation which restricts the number of logos on an equipment to two. The stumper has three including the badge on his gloves. And those logos have to be of manufacturers approved by the ICC. In view of ICC’s affirmation on the controversy, it remains to be seen if BCCI CEO Rahul Johri would still take up the matter with ICC when he arrives here on Saturday. It’s most likely that Dhoni will be asked to mask the insignia.

The 'Balidaan Badge' or the army insignia was spotted on Dhoni's gloves as television replays showed him stumping South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo in the 40th over bowled by Yuzvendra Chahal during India’s opening match on Wednesday. Balidaan is an insignia of the special forces, which form part of the Parachute Regiment.

It has a commando dagger pointed downwards, with upward-extending wings from the blade and a scroll superimposed on the blade with 'Balidaan' in Devanagari. Only Paramilitary Commandos are allowed to wear the Balidaan Badge. Interestingly, Dhoni, who was conferred an honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Parachute Regiment in 2011, is a qualified paratrooper, having undergone extensive training in 2015.

ICC rules clearly prohibit players from making political, religious or racial statements through any form of gestures, symbols or logos.

According ICC’s clothing and equipment rules and regulations under section G-1, “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 in advance by both the player or team official’s Board and the ICC Cricket Operations Department. Approval shall not be granted for messages which relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes. The ICC shall have the final say in determining whether any such message is approved. For the avoidance of doubt, where a message is approved by the player or team official’s Board but subsequently disapproved by the ICC’s Cricket Operations Department, the player or team official shall not be permitted to wear, display or otherwise convey such message in International Matches.”

The ICC has previously ruled against players trying to make political statements while playing. In 2014, England all-rounder Moeen Ali was banned from wearing “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” wristbands during a Test against India. The world governing body, however, allowed the Indian team to wear military camouflage-caps during a one-day international against Australia in Ranchi, after 40 paramilitary personnel were killed by a suicide bomber in Kashmir. The ICC on that occasion had ruled that the caps were part of charity fundraising efforts for the families of the killed. 

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