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I'm free to speak against BCCI: Gavaskar

cricket Updated: Aug 09, 2011 12:57 IST

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Former India captains Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri have been accused of toeing the BCCI line while commenting on cricket matches, a claim they dispute.

The weekly news magazine Outlook devoted the front-page of its latest edition to the duo, who reportedly receive 36 million rupees a year from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Gavaskar, 62, and Shastri, 49, both highly respected voices in Indian cricket, are paid by the BCCI to commentate on almost every series India plays at home or abroad.

Shastri also serves on the International Cricket Council's cricket committee, of which Gavaskar is a past member.

Cricket pundits say Gavaskar and Shastri are unlikely to criticise or speak against the policies of the BCCI.

"Every commentary box in the world has its share of supremacists and propagandists, England and Australia no exception," cricket analyst Rahul Bhattacharya told the magazine.

"But it's extraordinary that the Indian board has made it institutional."

Gavaskar, in England to commentate on the ongoing India series, insisted his contract did not stop him from airing his views.

"I would advise to all who are saying that there is a conflict of interest to actually see my work, listen to what I say, and then judge me," Gavaskar told Outlook in reply to the accusations.

"In my columns, I speak strongly against BCCI policies. I'm not beholden to the BCCI. My contract has nothing to do with the views I express as a columnist and commentator."

The BCCI said the charges of conflict of interest were "trivial and frivolous".

"The board pays them for their professional qualities," BCCI vice-president and official spokesman Rajiv Shukla said.

"They are outstanding commentators and respected at the international level. What they have achieved is because of their personal talent.

"These are trivial and frivolous allegations. It is not fair to suggest that there is a conflict of interest because BCCI never dictates on what they should say."