Every inaction has an equal and opposite over-reaction. The BCCI has been, in the last few years, an epitome of crony capitalism.
On the other hand, even a broken clock can be right twice a day and the BCCI has done a decent job in taking care of players/ex-players and knowing how to commercialise the sport and stay relevant to a new generation of fans.
Its inaction and poor governance have been in areas we can call the 3 Cs.
Cronyism as exemplified by a few officials having their cronies as voting members of state associations and in turn the same officials continuing to hold plum BCCI posts and getting elected year after year.
Corruption as exemplified by recent allegations against the DDCA, IPL spot-fixing and betting scandals.
Conflicts of interest with the mother of all conflicts being the BCCI president who was also the ICC chairman and owned an IPL team.
The Lodha Committee has made an effort to understand the historic context of the game. The level of depth the committee has gone into in terms of addressing the three deadly sins is remarkable.
Had they stuck to addressing only the 3 Cs, they would have achieved remarkable results. But by a ‘scope creep’ to include ideas like ‘one state, one vote’, ‘players’ association’ and restriction on advertising time, they have gone into areas where they do not have the context or understanding and may, in fact, affect the global game adversely.
One state, one vote This means now Mizoram, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Manipur, Uttarakhand , Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland will have votes in BCCI whereas Mumbai, which has won the Ranji Trophy 40 times, will not. Cricket does not follow state boundaries. Where people are interested in the game, they have greater stakes. The North East is India’s footballing powerhouse. If Goa and North East were excluded from having a vote on football and Mumbai and Delhi given one, we would be surprised. The seven sisters could emerge as a powerful voting block and the BCCI could end up ‘vote chasing’.
This is not a good idea. Players do not have long careers and there is a strong incentive to play more T20/franchise cricket than the financially less rewarding Tests. Moreover, player activism leads to indiscipline as we can see from the rotation of coaches in the English Premier League and how West Indies went away from India halfway through a tour. Ex-players should be involved in cricketing matters like coaching, talent hunting, pitch preparation, selection. Forcing them into administration will not be conducive to cricket’s growth as we saw in Karnataka and Hyderabad.
Lastly, the committee does not understand how important Indian cricket is to the commercial balance of the global game. If the recommendations of no ads during overs change are followed, the global budget for cricket will be cut by at least a third, sponsors and TV companies will pay less, and not just state associations but associate cricket nations too will suffer due to a hugely reduced pot.
The contracts BCCI and ICC have with broadcasters clearly state that not a single ball of live action can be missed due to ads. Sony TV learnt this lesson the hard way when their initial IPL TV rights contract got cancelled after ads came over some live cricketing action and they had to renegotiate the rights, paying nearly a billion dollars more.
The Lodha Committee has done an excellent job in addressing cronyism, corruption and conflict of interest. But in going into players’ association, BCCI voting structure and commerce, they have tried to do the job of the CEO they recommend. For a viable recommendation, anything outside the 3 Cs should have been more a wise counsel than a recommendation.
(The writer is ex-chairman & managing director, Procter & Gamble India Ltd and a cricket enthusiast)