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Insights into Editorial: A moment of truth for cricket in India

Insights into Editorial: A moment of truth for cricket in India

20 July 2016

The 2013 IPL scandal made judicial intervention necessary to curb the BCCI’s power, reform it structurally and operationally and introduce accountability. In this regard, the Supreme Court constituted Lodha panel to look in to the issue and recommend measures to reform it. However, recommendations proposed by the panel were not accepted by the BCCI and many state boards. This once again made Supreme Court’s intervention necessary. The Supreme Court recently accepted major recommendations of Lodha panel.

Major suggestions that have been upheld:

  • Ministers have been barred from being a member of BCCI.
  • The apex court accepted the recommendations of the panel to have a CAG nominee in the BCCI.
  • The court also accepted the recommendation that one person should hold one post in cricket administration to avoid any conflict of interest and scrapping of all other administrative committees in the BCCI after CAG nominee comes in.
  • Office bearers in BCCI should not be beyond age of 70 years.
  • One state one vote recommendation accepted.
  • The court said that the states like Maharashtra and Gujarat having more than one cricket association will have voting rights on rotational basis.
  • The bench accepted the panel’s recommendation that there should be a player’s association in the BCCI and the funding of players’ association accepted while leaving it to the Board to decide the extent of funding.

Impacts of these recommendations:

One State One Vote: This changes the BCCI power equation. The Northeast, which has had minor presence in the cricketing stratosphere in India, will suddenly have five new members – Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. Influential power-brokers will try to woo these states to side with them. Traditional heavyweights like Mumbai and Baroda will lose importance as they wouldn’t be permanent voting members.

Age and tenure: This requires many BCCI old hands including N Srinivasan, Sharad Pawar, Niranjan Shah to move out. But it’s tough to imagine them going away for good. It remains to be seen whether they can find some way out to still be within touching distance of the power that they’ve enjoyed for so long. And whether we could see them pulling strings despite not holding the reins.

One man One Position: Powerful people will have to relinquish the multiple offices they hold. This could well open the doors for proxy voting and puppet heads running state associations.

No to ministers, bureaucrats: This will mean the BCCI will have fewer political heavyweights in its mix but not necessarily lesser political interference as those not in power could still retain sufficient clout through their own candidates.

CAG as auditor: Every expenditure of the board will have to go through the CAG and be accounted for. Funds to states will have to be cleared by CAG and there can be no arbitrary disbursement of funds to state associations. The board will have to ensure that there’s perfect coordination in the new-look hierarchy of the BCCI, which will now have a CAG and the CEO among other influential heads as part of their executive council.

Restructuring of IPL governing council: Franchises to be part of all important IPL decisions. For too long they have been kept outside the loop and been mere spectators despite being vital stakeholders with a lot of money at stake. Their presence could also open doors for potential conflicts of interest since it’s the governing council which has the final say on all matters from player retention to appointment of match officials.

Player Power: Cricketers to finally have a voice not just in the governance of the sport but also in how their own interests are safeguarded.

Why reform BCCI?

BCCI has always inhabited a grey area. It is private in nature but fields a team that represents the nation and utilizes taxpayer-funded services such as security arrangements on a massive scale. There is a case to be made for keeping it free from overt state interference; it is no coincidence that it is the only one of India’s apex sports bodies that has truly been successful. But the traditional opacity and arrogance of its functioning, coupled with corruption and administrative issues in various state boards, had left it in a position where state intervention was always just one misstep away.

Why BCCI is opposing?

Former BCCI president had pointed out that some of the measures were problematic. The cooling-off period, for instance, would mean a lack of administrative continuity, which comes with its own set of problems.

Way ahead:

There are now two options available to the BCCI. The first is stalling for time and seeking ways around the verdict in order to maintain the status quo. The second is a good faith effort to study the recommendations and consider how best to implement them. The latter would be preferable.

The Supreme Court has allowed some leeway in how they are to be operationalized. The BCCI has the administrative nous and the resources to manage the transition effectively, and an obligation to its players to do so.

Conclusion:

The BCCI has shown that it recognizes the value of involving various stakeholders. Its response to the verdict will now determine if it is truly committed to the idea of deeper reform—as it has insisted it is—or more inclined to protect its turf. With the full impact of T20 cricket on the shape of the sport yet to be determined and major changes to Test cricket on the horizon, a streamlined, effective BCCI is crucial for the sport, and not just in India.