Shashank Manohar, judging by the pronouncements he has made immediately after assuming office as the Board president, seems to be a man in a hurry. The task is enormous and if the Board does not usher in reforms, it knows it will be forced to implement major structural changes which the Lodha panel is likely to recommend soon.
The enormity of the task can be gauged by the fact that the culture of venality, promoting self above the interest of the game and believing that the law is an ass and can be twisted to suit your own needs, is a norm and not an exception here. Its roots run deeper than anyone can imagine. One does not have to go too far to realise that the rot begins from the bottom and spreads its tentacles to the top.
Take for example the Delhi cricket association. It is a hotbed of political manoeuvering, corruption and criminal negligence for which it is under the scanner of the investigating agencies. Its functioning, because of no corrective action having been taken, has almost been paralysed to the extent that even its Ranji Trophy preparations got derailed.
Jammu and Kashmir too faces a similar problem. Rajasthan’s cricket is being run by an ad hoc committee and there may hardly be any association left whose functioning is not afflicted with similar problems.
Each association gets around Rs 25-30 crore a year as its share from the profits made by the board. It is a staggering amount of money with little or no genuine auditing of where and how this money is spent. All state associations have their own by-laws with little uniformity in their constitution.
We should not forget that the Board is formed by the representatives of these very state units and if the game of compromises begins right at the bottom of the ladder, how can we except the top to function honestly.
I am sure the Lodha panel is seized of this problem and must be spending a lot of energy and time to find ways and means to make these rogue state units accountable.
The move to appoint an independent auditor to scrutinise how subsidies given to the state units are spent and stop further sanctioning of funds till the auditors find no wrongdoing is a welcome and long overdue step. Why just the states, even the Board needs to come under an independent regulatory body which scrutinises its enormous accounts.
Since the Supreme Court has now made it clear that the cricket Board performs a public function, it will be well within the law to bring it under the purview of a regulatory body like the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India).
If it is not possible to bring the Board and its state units’ finances under the scrutiny of CAG, then a similar body should be created to make its functioning transparent and accountable, with powers to suggest punishment in case of wrongdoing. To put its house in order, harsh measures are required, and if the Board won’t do it, the Lodha panel will definitely force it to.