A major decision the Supreme Court took in the IPL spot-fixing case was to strike down the controversial BCCI rule amendment that allowed former president N Srinivasan to buy a franchisee. The new BCCI regime has taken the first step to improve its image, asking members to sign a ‘no conflict of interest’ undertaking.
In this interview, the BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur promises to ring in the changes. Excerpts:
How challenging is the situation for the BCCI?
The last few years have been turbulent. We respect the Justice RM Lodha committee’s verdict. In the last four months, we have taken many steps to bring more transparency and accountability.
Why does BCCI have such a negative image?
Cricket is so popular in India, so you have to be careful as every act of yours is under scrutiny. There should not be any conflict of interest or individual interest involved. Once you are above that, everything will fall into place. Every act of yours thus creates a right or wrong perception about BCCI or about cricket. It’s very important that every step we take is in the right direction.
Is conflict of interest the reason for BCCI’s image taking a hit?
You can’t expect people to sit on the Board and have certain interests. We want to make it clear that no one in the Board should have any commercial interest that can impact BCCI’s working.
Recently, a newspaper reported that Virat Kohli has commercial interests in a company?
I am not aware of that. But players will also have to sign this conflict of interest declaration. We have sent this document to everyone. We are waiting for their feedback. Let us get that, we will then take a step further. We have taken the first step.
IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla has said the Lodha panel’s order suspending two teams is not a black mark.
By the act of two individuals, you can’t say the whole league is bad. If you look at IPL in the last few years, we have provided a platform for up-and-coming cricketers to play with iconic players. Even ex-cricketers, almost 900 of them, get Rs 15,000 per month, which no other cricket body gives in the world. Ex-cricketers get to work with IPL franchisees, TV, newspapers; these are the opportunities IPL gives.
Lodha panel will suggest reforms in the BCCI. Do you think BCCI will enjoy the autonomy it did?
BCCI’s autonomy should be the same as earlier. We have done extremely well over the years. Let us wait for the Lodha committee to give its recommendations.
Even if it recommends to bring BCCI under the RTI Act?
Let the recommendations come. BCCI is the finest sports body, you can’t take that away.
There is a feeling Srinivasan still wields power and the working group is dominated by his men?
This is not true. If you look at the IPL governing council, you can’t take 12 people everywhere and hold meetings within the six weeks and implement the decision. It has to be a small working group that can work on a day-to-day basis, meet stakeholders and see how to implement the Lodha panel verdict. My priority is the IPL, players of the suspended teams. I don’t want domestic players to lose money or match because of someone else.
Earlier, BCCI never bothered about perception. Do you think BCCI should change its attitude?
This is important. If you take any decision in haste, it could prove costly. Look at the Kochi team case. For no fault of ours, BCCI has been asked to pay Rs 500 crore by the arbitrator.
You met Srinivasan at the ICC meeting in Barbados. Are you friends again?
On any platform, when you represent BCCI or ICC, you can’t be seen to be at loggerheads. And we give instructions to the BCCI representative on what line of action he should take. It is important to communicate that. I haven’t met him after Barbados.