No back-foot strokes, just reform BCCI

Missing the woods for the trees appears to be fast acquiring the status of favourite pastime in Indian cricket circles. For instance, the machinations of officials and officers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) were overlooked and skipper Virat Kohli was popularly seen as the only one responsible for Head Coach Anil Kumble’s exit from the Indian dressing room.

Curiously, the Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) appears to have been sucked in the dangerous pastime of missing the woods for the trees. Brought in nearly five months ago to administer change in BCCI portals, it has not made any headway in that direction. Instead, it has spent time and energy in lesser issues. Only on Sunday, did it finally assume a stern countenance.

Former Comptroller and Accountant General of India Vinod Rai called himself and his colleagues on CoA as nightwatchmen. Yet, instead of getting their feet wet in overseeing the transition within BCCI and its State units and putting structures and systems in place, it appears to have trained its focus on a lot of other issues.

Should the CoA have got into the task of asking the then Head Coach Anil Kumble to make a presentation about restructuring the pay package to players and coaching staff? Was it its lot to be so concerned about Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s contract? Should it have been concerned about which legal counsel represents the Board before the Supreme Court?

Then again, should its Chairman be making public statements about Kumble continuing or not in his role as Head Coach? Should he have been commenting on what turned out to be irreconcilable differences between Captain Virat Kohli and the Head Coach?

The answer to each of these questions is a resounding no.

Until its meeting with State Cricket Associations on Sunday, it had made precious little effort to usher in change in the governance model? Why was there such a delay in understanding and enforcing the Supreme Court’s clear orders? In the past few months, BCCI has used the CoA’s diffused interest in the reforms to successfully divert attention to other areas.

The CoA’s mandate is to administer the reforms Supreme Court has ordered in BCCI. Clearly, it is not to seek to impress upon the Supreme Court on behalf of BCCI on the three contentious issues: one-state-one-vote; 70-year age cap; cooling off period. As anyone who has followed the case in the Supreme Court would know, the time for negotiations is long gone.

The Board had its chance, first with the Lodha Committee and then before the Supreme Court to present its arguments. Both preferred to over-rule the cricket officials’ representations and laid down the ground rules. The Board officials appear to be working towards convincing the CoA that the Supreme Court order was perhaps illogical and unfair to them.

The CoA finally woke up to the fact that it was falling into a trap of representing BCCI’s desperate point of view – howsoever fair the points may appear to be – before the Supreme Court, thus leading to more delays in implementing the orders. The manner in which BCCI has stonewalled the reforms process since the order was passed on July 18, 2016, would do the greatest opening batsmen proud.

In his media interactions, Mr Vinod Rai suggested that the CoA could not call the shots since whatever it said was contested by BCCI office-bearers or State Associations. He also said the CoA wanted to give sufficient time to State units to think how to go about it and make the necessary changes. Besides, he said CoA would attempt to get  them to make changes rather than imposing things on them.

Clearly, Mr Rai – like Ram Guha wrote in his letter after quitting the CoA – believes that the Supreme Court wanted CoA to implement the Lodha Committee ‘recommendations’. If he has been quoted right, he appears to have overlooked the small matter of the Supreme Court having embraced the recommendations in toto, and ordered these to be implemented.

The sooner CoA gets its focus back on the Supreme Court’s order to bring in the reforms the better it will be. That Indian cricket needs a better governance structure has been clearly established by the Apex Court. Neither the Lodha Committee nor the CoA have been able to get down to the brass tacks in bringing in the desired change in the BCCI’s State units and in BCCI itself.

It can start by asking the state units to fall in line and setting them firm deadlines. Empowered by the Supreme Court, it must ensure that each State Cricket Association rewrites its constitution in keeping with the order of the Supreme Court. That will ensure that the representatives sent by these voting units are compliant and thus those elected to BCCI are compliant as well.

The failure of the Lodha Committee first and the CoA now makes it seem as if the task of re-engineering BCCI and its units will have to be overseen by the Supreme Court itself. If it does not find the time to manage that, we will see status quo prevailing within the rank and file of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. And that will be because CoA has missed the woods for the trees.

This article was originally published in the Op-Ed page of The Tribune on June 30, 2017 and can be found here (http://epaper.tribuneindia.com/c/20188825)

About Rajaraman 453 Articles
Born on March 10, 1961 in Hyderabad, I wanted to be an electronics engineer but my focus on cricket and basketball at school and junior college meant that I missed qualifying from the entrance examination. I led the School and Junior College basketball teams. I then decided he would be sports a journalist like my father, Mr N Ganesan. While I graduated in commerce from the Badruka College of Arts and Commerce, I also spent more time in sports, representing Andhra Pradesh in the National Basketball Championship in 1980 and Osmania University in 1981-82. I joined the 1981-82 batch of Osmania Univeristy's Bachelor in Communication and Journalism. I missed the gold medal by 0.6 per cent and was pursuing the Masters' degree when The Hindu offered me a job as Sub-Editor in Madras. I took up The Hindu assignment on March 17, 1983. Though my job entailed editing functions only, I got to cover the annual Sholavaram motor racing grands prix in 1985 and 1986 and the Himalayan Rally in 1985 when my photographs also found expression in The Sportstar. I left The Hindu in November 1986 to join Press Trust of India as Sports Reporter in Hyderabad. I was called to New Delhi to report on the World Table Tennis Championship in March 1987. I covered a variety of events, including the SAF Games in Calcutta in 1987 and Islamabad in 1989. I ventured to Delhi in July 1992 when I joined The Pioneer as a Senior Reporter/Sub-Editor (Sports). My cricket writing skills came to the fore when I was deputed to write on India's tour of Sri Lanka in July-August 1993. I was rewarded with a promotion as Deputy Sports Editor in 1995. The departure of the Sports Editor in January 1996 saw me hold charge. A good performance during the 1996 World Cup cricket and the Olympic Games in Atlanta - when The Pioneer brought out a four-page supplement every day saw me being confirmed as Sports Editor in August 1996. The Hindustan Times, Delhi's largest newspaper, appointed me as Associate Editor (Sports) in January 1997. I conceived and launched a weekly colour supplement, Sport during the World Cup football finals in 1998. I covered the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok and the 1999 World Cup cricket in England. I left the Hindustan Times on February 23, 2000 to take up position as Editor, www.cricketnext.com on February 26 and can claim with pride that I played no mean role in building a good site that is rated among the best cricket news sites. Besides, a number of TV channels – NDTV, Star News, Doordarshan, CNBC, Zee News – and radio stations like BBC, SABC and ABC have invite me to in-studio discussions on cricket. In 2001, I authored a book, Match-fixing: The Enemy Within (Har Anand Publications). I joined www.espnstar.com as Senior Editor in June 2001 and worked for two years, helping it transform from a corporate website to a respected sports site and playing a role in driving the hugely popular online fantasy cricket game, Super Selector. I left the website to pursue life as a freelance writer and consultant, editing the Afro-Asian Games Observer in Hyderabad in October-November 2003 and helping the Board of Control for Cricket in India's Communication Committee. I joined the respected weekly magazine Outlook as Senior Special Correspondent in April 2005 and worked there till September 2007, with a story highlighting Sunil Gavaskar's minimal contribution to Indian cricket after his retirement being one of the best in my career. For a year, till Sept 30, 2008, I was Sports Editor, Samay, Sahara India's National news channel. I live in New Delhi with my wife Sudha and daughter Priya and after a short stint with www.iplt20.com and www.t20.com, I am now consultant with the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi (28° 40' 0 N, 77° 13' 0 E) lending my shoulder to the wheel that will make India a hugely popular sports destination.