The Supreme Court’s observation on Tuesday that the ‘lackadaisical attitude of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’ had allowed the rot to set in only articulates the serious concerns many have about the direction in which administrators are leading the popular game to. The court’s observation while hearing a PIL, which unsuccessfully sought a ban on the Indian Twenty20 league in the wake of the spot-fixing scandal, only adds to the gloom. It is clear that cricket administrators have not learnt the lessons from the 2000 match-fixing scandal and the warnings contained in the Central Bureau of Investigation’s probe report that led to the bans of leading Indian players, including former skipper Mohammad Azharuddin. And a lot has to do with the way in which the BCCI itself functions.
With its president, N Srinivasan, himself mired in conflict of interest as both the boss of the BCCI as well as the Chennai Super Kings, many feel it has only encouraged the opaque manner of functioning by the other franchise owners in the lucrative league. Such a situation has only emboldened players that they can get away with anything. The current spot-fixing crisis shows how players had been dealing with bookies with little monitoring by the franchise owners. With the BCCI presiding over big bucks that influence the way the game is run globally, few show the courage to take on the body; or succeed if they do. The Board has refused to come under the Right to Information Act, and being a body registered under the societies Act shields it from most legal challenges, especially writ petitions.
With the state units and staging venues getting a share of the revenue from the league, few would want to raise a voice against the way things are run. The one big voice of dissent down the years has been former greats in the game — be it speaking out on technical aspects of cricket or questioning administrative decisions — but the BCCI, by distributing profits from the league to many former players, has forced them into restraint. With dissenting voices rarely heard now, the board has gone ahead with its opaque style of functioning. As many influential people, from political leaders to industrialists, hold key positions in the BCCI, direct attacks on it are non-existent. The Board has not even spared the media in its bid to stifle criticism, denying advertisements or barring entry to cover matches at certain venues. There is a crying need for a thorough clean up; anything less will be viewed as a cover-up that will destroy what little credibility that is left in the game.