October 23, 2019, the final date that the Vinod Rai-led Committee of Administration (CoA) has given as regards the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) election, has brought about an infusion of activity at all their associate centres. Elections to meet the deadline in order to have a representative in the BCCI as well as to get finances from them have put enormous pressure on the state associations. Most of them were still clamoring to get their constitution registered, as each association is different. The difference is because the field of operations have been established and adapted over time. This is the reason that the CoA has had problems establishing any consistent formula and structure, giving clever associations the opportunity to modify it to suit them.
The initial results have shown that the people who were involved previously are still the power behind the scene, this time via their own kith or kin as well as their henchmen. The perceptible change that was expected will definitely be missing and the three-year exercise will be a futile one. In the meantime, the in-fighting and legal battles have weakened the very core of power that the BCCI was wielding in the cricket world. India, rather than taking an active part in world cricket administration, was fighting its own battle internally. To once again establish their immense power in the International Cricket Council (ICC) committees, the BCCI members will need to get strong and united all over again.
The most wonderful outcome of the Lodha Committee recommendations was the recognition of the former Indian international cricketers. They were finally given membership to the association that they had represented. This was a major step, as after giving their sweat and soul playing cricket for their respective states, many were never given membership of their prestige establishments.
For me to become a member of the Maharashtra Cricket Association was very emotional. The many days of playing cricket for and in Maharashtra in adverse conditions and in remote locations for my club, college, university and state team rekindled memories of yore.
The Maharashtra election was just the right platform, having now secured a right to vote and stand, for me to render my services to further improve cricket in Maharashtra. I decided that the time had come for me to nominate myself in the election, for a place in the apex body that was to be formed.
This looked simple and straight forward, especially as there was a position earmarked for a male cricketer. Having a plain sheet as regards an election, never having to stand for one, I was amused, surprised, and shocked at the devious and clever ways of people involved not only as candidates but also as voters. The one area that was suitably bare in the list of nearly 165 member voters were cricketers. There was a list of many Life members who had been inducted as friends of the men at the helm and there were 40 corporate and allied clubs, 36 of them had no cricket facilities whatsoever and never took part in any cricket activities at all. Some had the very impressive title of a cricket club, with nothing of any cricket activity either in front or behind to show. They were, as one can in corporate terms define it as, ‘Shell Companies”.
A very impressive Election Officer (EO), with immaculate credentials on paper was given the task to conduct the elections. His task was to ensure that the people in command still rule the roost. The EO very conveniently formulated an election voting format that ignored the very constitution of the registered BCCI one and the methodology and process to elect the office bearers and the councilors too. I was surprised when I got to know that there was a spot for a male international player and it had to be elected from amongst ourselves.
This was a revelation as I was given to understand that this position would not be an elected one but a nominated one by the Indian Players Association (IPA). In organizing a proposer and seconder, getting the form notarized and contacting the six international players in a day to file the nomination just three days before the final election was quite an eventful and arduous task. One of the players was falsely put into the category of an international player, having never played cricket for India in an international game. An objection by me against him, as he was the proposer of my only opponent was upheld only after receiving a written confirmation from the CoA/BCCI.
The EO who should have done this confirmation on account of a complaint by a member a day earlier failed to do so. He did finally debar him from the voting list but refused to remove the invalid form of my opponent, which I only realized at the time of voting.
The most amusing sequence was for me to be told on the eve of the election day that the election for my category will not be held. This verdict was retracted the next day when I received a mail to say just on the dot of the election time that the voting in my category will take place after all. The whole farce came to an end when the counting was in progress, wherein the EO decided to seal the envelope without counting it, with no indication of when it would be done.
I then realized that the intention of all concerned was to ensure that I do not get into the apex body and hence the games were played to keep many of us out.
The Indian Cricket Association may be a route for us to get into our respective state associations, but for us to be effective we need to have a committee that thinks about the betterment of the game and the players who have and will represent them. This I feel is many, many moons away!
(Yajurvindra Singh is a former Test cricketer)