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With governance under strain, cricket needs strong leadership

The Indian cricket team coach appointment saga was marked by glitches, denials, u-turns and in the process, nobody came out with credit. Initially, when applications were invited, it was a no-contest, a one-horse race. When differences surfaced between captain and coach,the smell of smoke was denied and the raging fire ignored.

cricket Updated: Jul 13, 2017 17:42 IST
Amrit Mathur
After much drama and suspense, Ravi Shastri was appointed the new head coach of the Indian cricket team on Tuesday.
After much drama and suspense, Ravi Shastri was appointed the new head coach of the Indian cricket team on Tuesday.(AFP)

After much back and forth the circle is complete: the BCCI matter is again at the doorstep of the Supreme Court. The Court had heard all concerned before passing a judgment, then repeated the process to hear everyone once again. Now the aggrieved want to invoke a legal DRS, though playing conditions of this game don’t provide for such an appeal.

This is not the only irony of this case. A review, if allowed, sits with the umpire who made the initial call. There is no third umpire in this game, only one. And there is no court more supreme than the Supreme Court .

(Read | Ravi Shastri - Indian cricket team’s ultimate comeback man)

Whether the court, in its next hearing, reads out the riot act because of continued non-compliance remains to be seen. Nor can anyone tell whether it will relent and be flexible on issues considered ‘genuine’ by the BCCI.

Regardless of what happens, the primary hope is for clarity and closure, and to find a way to put the current confusion to bed.It seems cricket in India is unfolding according to the model created,perfected and patented by Pakistan - that of stumbling from one controversy to the next.

(Read | Ravi Shastri won’t be a ‘headmaster’, wants India cricket team to have fun)

The coach appointment saga was marked by glitches,denials,u-turns and in the process nobody came out with credit. Initially,when applications were invited it was a no-contest,a one-horse race; only a ‘process’ to meet the demands of transparency and openness.When differences surfaced between captain and coach,the smell of smoke was denied and the raging fire ignored.

This wasn’t all. Contradictory, and conflicting, signals about developments emerged each passing day.The captain won’t have a say in coach selection,asserted one voice while another confirmed consultation with him so that everyone is ‘on the same page’.There is no hurry to appoint a new coach,he will be picked in a few days,announced the selection panel consisting of past greats .Not right ,announce name now, they were sternly instructed.

(Read | Steve Smith backs revenue sharing model, says it keeps domestic cricket strong)

If it’s any consolation,India is not the only country grappling with serious governance issues.Australian cricketers are up in arms over a pay dispute with their board,as a result their A tour to South Africa stands cancelled and future visits to Bangladesh and India are in jeopardy. At the fundamental level,in Australia,the tussle is simple:The Board wants to treat players as employees who are hired at fixed wages.The players want a partnership arrangement with a stake in governance and revenue.

(Read | Cricket Australia chief attacks ‘reckless’ players’ union)

The players’ position is they create wealth,so they deserve a fair share.They are smart enough to know that with major media rights sales (of the Big Bash League) coming up it would be silly to accept a financial deal that does not factor in this upside.

Which raises a troubling point: what happens if Indian players,learning from their Australian colleagues and IPL teammates,demand a revenue sharing arrangement with an eye on rising value of commercial deals? In case one needs to be reminded,IPL’s title rights jumped almost 500% ,from ~80 crores each year to ~450 crore or so and its media rights ,due soon,could also see a similar spectacular increase!

(Amrit Mathur is a former sports administrator who worked with the BCCI as media manager. Views expressed are personal)