The impact of the reforms ordered by the Supreme Court to restructure Indian cricket will be felt most by association members from the West Zone. They will be hit hardest because they will go from powerful stakeholders in the Board of Control for Cricket in India to living on the margins.
Maharashtra and Gujarat together had seven votes. However, the Lodha committee’s ‘one state, one vote’ policy, which will have to be implemented after the Supreme Court approved it on Monday, will leave West Zone with just two votes. This will make the units irrelevant in the vote politics that dominates the BCCI.
The most important among the recommendations announced by the Lodha committee was aimed at transforming the entire power structure in the BCCI. It has changed the board’s electorate to one association per state. It means Maharashtra, which had three with the Mumbai Cricket Association, Pune-based Maharashtra Cricket Association and Nagpur-based Vidarbha Cricket Association each having voting rights, will now be clubbed into one. In Gujarat, Ahmedabad-based Gujarat Cricket Association, Baroda-based Baroda Cricket Association and Rajkot-based Saurashtra Cricket Association each had a vote.
The apprehension among these associations is that they would be marginalised.
It has yet to be decided, but the most likely solution for the units from Maharashtra and Gujarat is the three associations having voting rights by turn. In that scenario, whichever unit’s turn it is will mainly be looking after its interest.
As in most other sports, in Indian cricket too, merit alone is not enough. You need to have the right backing to push your case, whether it is allotment of funds, matches, appointments to plum posts or selection. Having the headquarters of the BCCI will only be of symbolic value.
The Northeast members have always maintained that one reason their interests were not safeguarded was because they had no say in administration. West Zone will be the new Northeast for they will have limited say in the power quotient.
“That is what we fear will happen,” said a senior member of the Mumbai Cricket Association.
Former BCCI president N Srinivasan may have done it blatantly, putting his association’s interests above everything else, but it is the same story with any other administrator, be it Shashank Manohar or Anurag Thakur. They also have pushed their region’s cause and parochialism is reflected in most decisions.
“To what extent it will impact the West Zone state associations will have to be seen,” said a senior association member from the region.
STANDING A CHANCE
As far as various BCCI appointments are considered, West Zone members are taking comfort in the fact that they will have an advantage at least in the qualification process because they will fulfill the eligibility criterion. “Like for becoming a selector you will need to have played a certain number of internationals, and similarly for other committees,” he said.
However, Ravi Savant, who was Mumbai Cricket Association president before current chief Sharad Pawar, pointed out: “In case voting rights are by turn for the associations of Maharashtra, what will happen when it is Vidarbha’s turn? Vidarbha (Ranji team) is in Central Zone, which will mean, there will be no representation for Mumbai and Maharashtra associations.”
Also removed from voting will be associations that don’t represent territories, Railways, Services, Mumbai’s Cricket Club of India, Kolkata’s National Cricket Club and All India Universities. However, it will make BCCI elections a more level-playing field as earlier whoever was in power at the Centre would command these votes.
Former BCCI president, N Srinivasan, when asked whether he felt responsible in any way because it all began with the conflict of interest case against him in the Supreme Court, lost his cool. “Everybody knows who… Look, I do not want to offer any comments to you,” he said and hung up.
Manohar had also acknowledged the changes that were in the offing before quitting as BCCI president to take over as International Cricket Council chief. He had mentioned that once the Supreme Court gave its ruling on the Lodha committee report, his state unit, Vidarbha, may even cease to exit.