The latest rumour that the BCCI unilaterally called off the tour of New Zealand after the cricket board’s bank accounts were allegedly ‘frozen’ is a failed stunt to keep the Lodha Committee under pressure. Those who have joined this bandwagon were basically taken for a ride by the BCCI. The Lodha Committee had given no such instruction.
In the October 3 mail written to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s secretary, treasurer and the CEO, it merely instructed no disbursal of ‘large funds to the member associations’ , as per two decisions taken at the emergent working committee meeting on September 30. The infrastructure subsidy was increased to Rs 70 crore, Rs 10 crore more than what the board had decided, as per the annual report released on September 23.
It was also decided to distribute the money received from broadcasters as compensation (total of Rs 1,607.58 crore as net of payment made to foreign boards) for the cancellation of the Champions League T20. There may have been a deliberate move to disburse these amounts to the associations before October 6 when the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear from the BCCI why the Lodha Committee recommendations can’t be accepted in its entirety. The Lodha Committee sought to stop that.
One fact was conveniently forgotten as the BCCI tried playing the victim. The mail clearly states that according to the Lodha Committee’s direction, dated August 31, 2016, no further decisions were to be taken regarding the future apart from routine matters. The mail didn’t mention freezing of bank accounts but only a bar on financial disbursements that were approved after August 31.
The disbursement of these amounts are not routine, and in any case, not emergent. How does the tour of New Zealand get affected by this? It doesn’t. But by floating such rumours, the BCCI is attempting to paint the Lodha Committee as anti-cricket.
When one of the top BCCI bosses was called by Hindustan Times, he said: “Ask New Zealand if they are willing to play for free.” That is an incredulous statement. This tour isn’t an emergent expenditure. A series mentioned in the Future Tours Programme (FTP) of the ICC, it was officially announced on June 28, meaning the planning had been going on for at least a month before that.
Any team is insured heavily against accidents and sudden pullouts before it goes on a tour. The BCCI might suddenly say it doesn’t have the money to pay for the tour but that too is untrue. According to the mail sent on October 3, the Lodha Committee sought a freeze only on the amount to be disbursed after the emergent meeting, not the funds to be paid to an association to host an important Test.
And anyway, most payments of the BCCI are basically reimbursements. So for the Indore Test, all expenditure would be borne by the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA) and they would be reimbursed two or three months down the line.
Do they have the money to host a Test? The answer lies in the list of BCCI payments of over Rs 25 lakh released every month. Only this August was the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) paid the balance of the amount due for the 2014-15 financial year. That doesn’t mean all cricket activity in Mumbai was closed till the time they received this payment. Thanks to the BCCI largesse received over the last few years, most associations are capable of running themselves for at least a year, if not more.
Till noon on Tuesday, a majority of the media had reported that the tour might be cancelled, but BCCI has still not reacted. That is mysterious for an organisation that has the tendency to shoot mails at the slightest hint of a problem.
What might explain this choreographed cry for help is the feeling within the BCCI that they might be fighting a losing battle against the law. Trying to stir public emotion with claims such as suddenly going poor will only further hurt the BCCI, the richest cricketing body in the world. Instead of resorting to theatrics, they should concentrate on cooperating with the law for the sake of cricket.