Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Mahendra Singh Dhoni fields during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between South Africa and India at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, southern England, on June 5, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

The International Cricket Council’s decision to ask BCCI to remove the ‘Balidan’ badge from Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s gloves is now being discussed much more than India’s chances against Australia in the next match at the Oval on June 9.

Many Indian fans have lauded Indian television anchors who have stirred up national sentiments. Some of the fans here feel that asking someone to remove an army crest from a glove is none of the ICC’s business. It was interesting to listen to some of the views from journalists and fans about this issue.

On a cold and rainy day, this hot topic was also discussed in the press box at Bristol. When the ICC Equipment and Clothing regulations do not permit the display of messages that relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes during an international match, should Dhoni have done it?

Indians fans here are of the opinion that an army badge can never be considered as political, religious or racial, but many also feel that when the Indian and Pakistan army are frequently involved in border skirmishes, Dhoni could have avoided wearing an army badge on the glove.

One view was that as a cricketer, Dhoni has come here to play and not show support for his army. In fact, a view expressed by a fan here was interesting: “Dhoni can wear whatever he wants outside the ground, even march in an Indian army attire through the streets, but inside the stadium he should be like other wicketkeepers, pasting nothing on the glove.”

Improve umpiring standards

But Dhoni’s supporters feel that the ICC should focus on improving umpiring standards following some poor decisions given during the West Indies-Australia match rather than focus on what is on Dhoni’s gloves.

One of the WhatsApp jokes going around on this reads: “ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar’s passport is now being revoked by the Indian government.” The villain of this piece is now Manohar, who in the past too, has taken a few decisions that were not acceptable to the BCCI in India, despite reaching the ICC as an Indian representative.

When a fan pointed out that Dhoni has only expressed his love for the nation and army, a Sri Lankan fan said: “A cricket ground is meant to express love for the game. It’s not a place for expressing love for one’s country, army or navy.”

This led to another fan asking him as to why should the ICC play the national anthem of the teams before a match. “Isn’t it meant to bring out the love for one’s country from the cricketers?”

What will Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmad now have on to his gloves if the ICC adheres to BCCI’s request is now anybody’s guess. If the ICC yields to pressure, then England all-rounder Moeen Ali will be among the first to protest since, in 2014, he was banned from wearing “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” wristbands during the third Test at Southampton.

While Dhoni supporters have initiated the #KeepTheGlove campaign whether the former Indian captain will keep wicket with the same glove is still unclear. Who will be stumped in the end, will it be ICC or BCCI? That query is now under review.