For people of my generation, Sunil Gavaskar holds a revered status in our hearts and minds. Our apprenticeship with cricket began with him, and even now some of his memorable battles against the fearsome West Indian pace attack are etched in my mind’s eye. His mastery over his craft gave Indian batting a steel and resolve never seen before. He earned India the respect it had lacked in international cricket.
Decades later, the same person has been given the responsibility to open a fresh innings and repair the damage N Srinivasan and his company, India Cements, have done to Indian cricket. While he still evokes awe for his stupendous cricketing feats, sad to say his dalliance with the cricket administration, that includes his lucrative contract with the Indian Board as a commentator, inspires little confidence.
New lease of hope
The Supreme Court, which has finally acted and given a new lease of hope to a cricket lover in the country, must have in all its wisdom, believed that in associating Gavaskar’s name with the game, they will restore to the IPL the credibility it badly lacks, till the outcome of the probe into the fixing scandal is completed.
But, will a man who was associated with many decisions as a member of the IPL governing council, which later came under scrutiny, be able to function in a fair and transparent manner? Will he be able to take decisions that could annoy the powerful lobby in the board that has brought the game into such disrepute?
I am raising these questions simply because even though till he functions as Board president he won’t be doing commentary, once this brief stint is over, he has to seek re-employment with the same Board. It will require courage and conviction to act against the very vested interests of which you have been a beneficiary so far.
His first test comes straightaway. Will he remove those very members from the IPL who are on the payrolls of India Cements? The SC wants that to happen, though it has left it to Gavaskar to decide whether to follow those directions or not.
In short, I am saying that even Gavaskar is not immune to this complex intertwining of conflict of interests that is the root cause of this problem.
To what purpose
One does not expect Shivlal Yadav, who replaces Srinivasan, to serve any purpose other than to safeguard the interests of his board members, who are all complicit in this story of deception and greed.
Given Gavaskar’s stature and his contribution to Indian cricket, one still does hope that he would in this moment of crisis put Indian cricket first and not let his personal interests and ambitions guide his decisions.
In the end, we will have to rely on the Supreme Court to force the Indian Board to put practices in place that leads to a clean-up. And among the first things they should do is to get the obnoxious amendment that allowed Srinivasan to own a team and as well as retain his position in the board scrapped.