Time for cricket board’s one-upmanship over (Column: Just Sport)
A senior Indian cricket board member has compared the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee recommendations to overhaul the governance model of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) with the demonetisation. In his opinion both are not helpful to the people/cricketers at large, if not Tughlaqian.
The official could not have vent his anger in any other way, perhaps, as the tussle between the board and the Lodha Committee has turned into full-blown ego clash.
There is no link between demonetisation, carried out in a secretive manner for obvious reasons, and the governance model sought to be introduced after months of discussions by the Lodha Committee interacting with former players, captains and cricket officials throughout the country.
Though the committee, comprising Justices Ashok Bhan and Raju Varadarajulu Raveendran besides Lodha, met former President Jagmohan Dalmiya, his successor Anurag Thakur is unable to find time to meet them because of his political preoccupation.
Eventually, on the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on steps to unearth black money, Thakur wrote to Justice Lodha that he was busy with the winter session of Parliament and would meet him along with board secretary Ajay Shirke any day after November 9.
The two top officials have to meet the committee by December 3 and the proposed meeting can still salvage some face-saving formula, essentially for the betterment of cricket.
The two should open their hearts to the panel and explain their genuine difficulties in implementing with a couple of recommendations. The committee also should try and meet the board half-way by giving in one-state one vote and the running of sport the way they deem fit.
For the sake of a couple of senior citizens running the state associations, the board need not jeopardise its very existence by insisting on relaxing the age cap of 70 years. As good politicians they can find a way out just as the national sports federations did in implementing the sports guidelines brought in by the then Sports Minister Margaret Alva in the 1980s.
So far, some board members and some former players in cricket administration had a grouse with the senior board officials for not interacting with the Lodha panel, thus leaving the field for those inimical to the board to malign it.
An exasperated Supreme Court has given the cricket administrators a long rope in the hope they would fall in line and not force it to ram down an unpleasant ruling.
The Lodha Committee has paved the way for the Supreme Court recommending the appointment of former Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai to oversee the board’s administration and sacking the board’s top brass headed by Anurag Thakur, thus giving the ex-bureaucrat a free hand to appoint people to run the day-to-day working.
There is frustration all round. State associations are getting restless not knowing what to do caught between an obstinate board and an equally insistent Lodha Committee.
The Lodha panel wants to get out of the mess without any delay even as a couple of associations decide to adopt the recommendations, each for their own reasons.
The latest to throw in the towel is the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA), not because they had a serious change of heart or they honestly believe in the recommendations sought to be implemented.
A faction of the association forced the ruling establishment to give an undertaking to the High Court that it would implement the Lodha Committee recommendations.
Actually, the present set of office-bearers completed its term in September and like all associations it is also waiting for the Supreme Court verdict or the board’s advice before calling fresh election.
The HCA filed an affidavit in the High Court some three months ago agreeing to adopt the recommendations approved by the Supreme Court.
To add to the drama, HCA president and former India off-spinner Arshad Ayub ended the Special General Body Meeting within minutes after adopting the one-point agenda to implement the Lodha Panel recommendations.
Some members wanted a discussion on the issue, but Ayub would have none of it. Some members continued with the meeting with one of the vice-presidents in the chair.
The “meeting” announced that it would hold the election under the new guidelines on December 24, while Ayub’s followers are waiting for the decisive Supreme Court judgment.
Everyone hopes that a solution to everyone’s satisfaction will be found if Thakur meets the Lodha Committee with an open mind.
The time for one-upmanship is over for the board.
(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)