Till a few months ago, Shashank Manohar was leading the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI’s) legal fight in the Supreme Court. But now, in the capacity of the International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman, he is unlikely to be invited for BCCI’s celebrations to mark India’s 500th Test this month. That’s how dramatically equations have changed.
The reputation he built over the years in cricket administration in India has taken some beating. It’s a fate you can suffer when you become a non-player in the BCCI, and then stop supporting its interests on other platforms.
The tag of chief of the ICC sounds more impressive than the head of the Indian cricket Board, but in terms of actual power, there’s no comparison.
It’s a lesson which Manohar’s predecessors at the ICC, Sharad Pawar and N Srinivasan learnt the hard way. Once you lose control at the BCCI, you are at the mercy of the Board members.
Ironically, Manohar was in power in the BCCI when Pawar (President from 2010 to 2012) was made to feel powerless at the ICC. There were instances when Pawar was in the chair at the ICC events and the Indian team boycotted. This humiliation was led by Manohar and Srinivasan.
When Srinivasan’s (ICC chairman from 2014 to 2015) turn came, he was shrewd enough to know the mechanism and managed to twist the ICC constitution to hold both posts. To his tough luck, the Supreme Court’s intervention forced him to leave his position in the BCCI. In no time, the new BCCI members got him ousted from the ICC.
“It’s a different issue that he lost support in the BCCI, but Srinivasan did a marvellous job at the ICC. BCCI was at the most powerful position at the ICC when he was there,” acknowledges former BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah, who was also among the opposition to Srinivasan in the BCCI, and played a role in ousting him.
The balancing act
It’s simple, if you have been nominated from the BCCI, you have to balance your ICC responsibilities with safeguarding the interests of the home Board. But, even if you do, you are still at their mercy.
Manohar is, at least, posturing to be an independent voice. During Pawar (2010 to 2012) and Srinivasan’s time (first ICC chairman 2014 to 2015), there was no confrontation with the BCCI, still they were run down by the people in power at the BCCI.
It seems, Jagmohan Dalmiya was the only administrator who could balance the equation at the BCCI when he was the ICC chief (president from 1997 to 2000). He knew what he had to do: There was not even an attempt to hide where his loyalties were. Apart from the ICC work, he was sensitive to BCCI’s interests.
“Dalmiya was truly a representative of BCCI when he was at the helm of affairs at the ICC. The Australian and England Boards were against him, but he always saw the best interests of the BCCI. How can you forget your parent body which has provided you the platform?” says Shah, who used to be part of Dalmiya’s team during that period.
The Saurashtra Cricket Association veteran however minces no words when it comes to Manohar. “Whatever is happening at the ICC is a sorry state of affairs. It’s total dilution of BCCI’s power in the ICC. He has come to the ICC because of his position at the BCCI. He should have stood by us and fought in the legal battle but left the BCCI stranded in crisis,” fumes Shah, who stands to lose a lot when the Lodha Committee recommendations come into effect.
There are many reasons for this regular ICC versus BCCI confrontations, but the main reason is that the ICC is heavily dependent on the Indian market and thus trying to wet its beak in it. On the other hand the BCCI is always looking to have its way in most issues.
“The England and the Australian Boards are goody-goody on the face but absolutely hate the BCCI from inside. It’s nothing new, they keep coming up with some or the other proposal (at the ICC) to target our market,” says another senior Board member, who is in the know of things in the current set-up, referring to the latest face-off regarding selling of the overseas Test rights in a block.
It’s the reason why someone from the Indian Board finds it difficult at the ICC because he gets sandwiched.
If this posturing of Manohar continues, it won’t be long before the BCCI members start to bare their fangs. “Slowly, slowly it will happen (if the confrontation continues),” says a senior BCCI member. “Shashank cannot declare that he is independent and has nothing to do with the BCCI.”
A lawyer by profession, Manohar is neither as thick-skinned as Srinivasan nor insensitive like the politicians. When he took the call to take up the ICC post, he would not have imagined that the script would go so wrong. He had earned a good reputation and by leaving the Board at this hour of crisis, he endeared to no one in his camp.
The countdown has started on how long he can take this kind of criticism. There is a belief that he will leave the ICC on his own accord than wait for the daggers from BCCI to get at him.
Dalmiya did a good job of keeping his home Board happy while working to improve the stability of ICC as well. He helped fill their coffers, increasing their funds from a balance of £16,000 (in 1997) to over $15 million at the end of his term (in 2000).
It is the Dalmiya formula that Manohar should look to follow, if he is hoping for a successful ICC stint.