“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight.
In the present scenario of cricket administration in India, this quote perfectly suits the BCCI officials who have overstayed at their posts and are refusing to budge even after being directed to do so by the Supreme Court of India.
There’s no doubt that these administrators served Indian cricket well and had the opportunity to retire with dignity, with their legacy intact. Unfortunately, the lust for power is preventing them from doing so and in the process they are blatantly defying the order passed by the most prominent legal authority of India.
Here are a few instances of how these officials have so brazenly manipulated the system by wielding their clout in the BCCI.
The Formation of Latest Committee
The BCCI has formed yet another committee – spawned by illustrious N Srinivasan to look into the “difficulties” while implementing the Lodha reforms. Niranjan Shah, who is debarred from the BCCI based on Lodha recommendations, has been called upon as a “special invitee” in this panel. So Srinivasan has conceived a committee in which Niranjan Shah, the special invitee, will identify the difficulties that exist in implementing certain reforms – the same reforms that, if implemented, will result in ejection of Shah himself along with Srinivasan and the other officials in the same category. It’s quite a masterstroke, isn’t it?
Why such committee wasn’t formed as soon as the Supreme Court gave its order last July is anybody’s guess. The Supreme Court had given the order after patiently listening to every argument made by the BCCI. The fact is that the BCCI is clearly trying to delay as much as possible in implementing the reforms on the pretext of a few difficult points that are supposedly impossible to implement.
“After the Supreme Court’s judgement what do you negotiate?” asked Justice RM Lodha. The BCCI officials, either knowingly or unknowingly, are showing tardiness in implementing the reforms but even they have to realize that the Supreme Court order is binding and in the end they will have to implement these reforms, unless directed otherwise by the SC itself.
Continued Influence of the Old Guard
The Committee of Administrators (CoA) and the BCCI in general is asking for trouble by continuing to rely on the old guard, who are to blame for the situation the BCCI currently finds itself in.
It is amusing to see Niranjan Shah clinging to power by any means necessary. “If the Indian president can be well over 70 years of age, why can’t the BCCI administrators work beyond that age limit?” he claimed. Well, only one President in history has served two terms in the office – a fact conveniently ignored by Mr. Shah. This sums up the hypocrisy with which the old guard has been functioning all these years.
N Srinivasan keeps on coming back in the BCCI. This man started it all for the BCCI, first by owning an IPL franchise while still being an office-bearer of the BCCI ensuing a controversy over conflict of interest. Then he refused to take responsibility of his son-in-law’s illegal activities and failed to step aside as president of BCCI and give up power. He followed that up by arranging a sham of an inquiry for spot-fixing allegations which promptly declared everyone involved (except the players) as not guilty. By allowing this man a back-door entry, and letting him guide the BCCI, the Board has painted a pretty poor picture of itself in the public eye.
The 70-year-old age cap and a cooling-off period after 9 years is being called as “discrimination” by the Board officials as if it is a family-run business where the owner decides when he or she is going to retire. It’s a sports body they are representing.
It is important that the tenures of administrators are capped to avoid fiefdom and to encourage healthy competition for the highest posts of cricket administration. Here are a few examples of prevalent nepotism in the BCCI:
- Jay Shah becoming an executive member of the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) and then joint-secretary of the GCA. He was also a part of two powerful committees – marketing and finance – of the BCCI. He is currently a part of the special committee that will list the difficulties in implementing the Lodha reforms. He is son of GCA president Amit Shah.
- Jaydev Shah is the record-holder for the most number of Ranji Trophy matches as captain. He has captained Saurashtra for better part of his playing career. Jaydev averages 29 from 113 matches played so far. He also had stints with IPL franchises such as Deccan Chargers, Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai Indians, and Gujarat Lions but did not get to play in any IPL match. He is son of Niranjan Shah – the supremo at Saurashtra Cricket Association.
- Ruchir Modi, all of 22 years of age, contested for the post of president of Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA). He was defeated by his rival hence it was impossible for him to take up that post. He is already the president of Alwar Cricket Association. He is son of once influential founder of IPL Lalit Modi.
The Lodha panel had suggested the age cap and cooling off period to curb these exact instances and it is no surprise that the Board officials are finding these exact two recommendations “difficult” to implement.
Cricket taking a backstage
The administrators and state associations of BCCI are very fortunate that they govern the most popular sport in a country with more than 1 billion population. The spectators and players are responsible for the large money-spinning deals the BCCI is currently involved in. Hence it is paramount that these administrators should always live and breathe serving game of cricket.
The current BCCI regime consists of think-skinned and self-centred individuals completely oblivious to reality. If they truly cared about the game of cricket, then even at a slightest notion of their existence being a deterrent to cricket administration, they would have recused themselves immediately.
The BCCI nowadays is busy conducting SGMs and almost all of them are concerning the Lodha recommendations. How much time and money is the BCCI spending just for the whims of a few Board officials? Could a less distracted BCCI have handled the Kohli-Kumble issue more effectively? Isn’t the cricket administration suffering amidst all these court hearings?
When the Board appears before the Supreme Court on 14 July, it will be interesting to see how the SC looks at these things and gives an absolute roasting to the Board or is willing to yet again hear Board’s plea. If a poll is to be carried out among cricket fans about what the SC is going to do, we know what the overwhelmingly favorite option would be.