Sunday , October 17 2021

Conflict and Chaos at BCCI (Column: Close-in)

By Yajurvindra Singh

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been functioning without an elected body of members of the committee for well over two years. The Committee of Administrators (CoA) appointed by the Supreme Court, were given the task of bringing in a change at the BCCI, to make it more transparent, professional and process driven.

Great words were used by many consultants in transforming corporates and business houses. Unfortunately, the Indian cricket administration is an entirely different ball game. The BCCI grew to become a major cricket body without a set structure or a mission or a vision but through the sheer popularity of the sport on and off the field. The television viewership grew enormously as cricket took on new forms by the shorter formats of the game and the BCCI which was languishing for lack of funds, soon became rich and prosperous.

Cricket administrators became house-hold names and the exposure to power and fame brought in politicians, rich industrialists and bureaucrats many advocating their love for the progress of the game and the people playing it. One cannot take way the contribution of some of them who have been instrumental in creating a BCCI that can be easily referred to as the richest cricket body in the world.

Unfortunately, where there is money there is greed. The BCCI and their state associations were soon filled with people whose love for the game was more for their personal gains rather than for the sport. The legal battle for one-upmanship amongst groups hoping to take control reminded one of the historical tales which always seem to happen in India. Indian history has shown how in-fighting has been the root cause of defeat during the various invasions, thus paving the way for India to be ruled by outsiders.

The BCCI soon became a victim to this and a battle ensued which was fought in the highest judiciary court of the country. Money that should have been spent for the betterment of the game was diverted towards legal fees and expenses.

The situation at BCCI presently is that of complete disarray, with state associations taking advantage of the chaos that exists. The complex domestic cricket administration that has no structured commonality has made getting the approved BCCI constitution (that was suggested by Justice Lodha), a difficult one to endorse by all. The voting membership at each centre is different and recreational clubs, corporates and individuals who have no connection with cricket or have no cricket facilities to offer are a part and parcel of it. The CoA and his legal team, unfortunately, failed to see the lacunae in implementing a constitution that could be tactfully altered to suit the very individuals who in the first place were responsible for this mayhem.

The Vinod Rai led-CoA, quite understandably, under stress and frustration in finding a solution, were given a further jolt by the Supreme Court recently. With a “stroke of the pen”, the Supreme Court altered the qualifying criteria of the 9+9 rule. The irony of it was that the CoA, just a few days before had sent a notification clarifying the issue that was overturned by the very judiciary body that had appointed them.

The BCCI Annual General Meeting and elections have been finalised by the CoA for October 23. The forceful statement by Vinod Rai to insist on it as well as to indicate his departure immediately, thereafter, indicates his state of mind. Elections will happen and the BCCI will be formed, however, the men and women may have a different look, but operationally the cricket body will be run by the same kingmakers who had controlled it earlier.

The only redeeming feature and outcome is that former cricketers are being recognised and given a place in the apex body and the cricket operations. This is wonderful for the game as cricketers are the gold dust that can make the game better.

Another area of concern is the conflict of interest issue. This needs to be seriously altered for a cricketer. Cricket is their bread and butter not only whilst playing but also in the years thereafter. One does understand why Justice Lodha put a restriction of one person one position. This is perfect for an administrator, but for a former cricketer whose earnings solely depend on cricket related activities, this puts a restriction on not only his finances but also in using his experience and skills.

Legends such as Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Bishan Bedi, Rahul Dravid and many more are the very base on which Indian cricket has grown. Banning them from multi-tasking in the field of cricket is detrimental to the development of the game. Indian cricket needs their services more than ever.

Age, tenure and other such issues should not be a deterrent to utilise their services, if available. Learning and interacting on the art of spin bowling from our famous quartet, all over 70 years in age, would be a dream for an upcoming and even an established cricketer. There is no end to the gain that Indian cricket can derive from cricketers who have played the game. One is sad to read about the questioning and interrogation of a Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly or a Laxman on the pretext of “conflict of interest”.

The services of Dravid whether he works for India Cement or Ganguly and Tendulkar for their involvement with an IPL team should never come to such a stage. The loss will be entirely Indian crickets for keeping them at bay. For them to give back to their cricket alma mater, whenever, they are free to do so, should be an asset to cherish and utilise. One does respect rules and regulations, but at the end, common sense should prevail. Let us hope that the BCCI wakes up to it.

(Yajurvindra Singh is a former Test cricketer)



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