Chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar's writing a syndicated newspaper column has made sections of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) very unhappy. A top board official said: "Once you are in a position to influence or have access to confidential information, which the chairman of selector does have, you should not be writing in the media." What has made some even unhappier is that Vengsarkar's Saturday column was credited to a top player management agency, which handles a clutch of current players, including skipper MS Dhoni.
The official added, "Even if there is no malafide intent, it leads to unnecessary talk when a selector's opinions are marketed through high profile agents… there appears to be a conflict of interest".
BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah, when contacted, told HT: "The Board will definitely look into this matter and discuss it." He said that while he couldn't get into the specific matter of agency representation, he added that the Board rules were very clear that no player, team member, or selector could or should give an opinion on an ongoing series. "There is a code of conduct in place for the selectors and everyone in the Board," he stated.
Vengsarkar was furious when asked for a comment. While he said he didn't know about any code of conduct, he threatened to come after the Hindustan Times and not talk to the paper hereafter if this matter was raised. It was explained that the purpose of the exercise was not to malign his image, but merely point out a possible conflict of interest in what was a highly sensitive situation. He remained agitated.
BCCI chief administrative officer Prof Ratnakar Shetty, in response to Vengsarkar's reaction, said: "The Board has always respected the freedom of the press. We have always taken constructive criticism in our stride and whenever necessary, issued clarifications. In this case, it's entirely up to the person concerned to comment, not the Board."
It might also be pointed out that in this writing of syndicated columns by influential ex-players, which are then marketed by agencies that are primarily player agents, is not peculiar to Vengsarkar.
Any number of commentators who pass judgement on players also write newspaper columns. Ravi Shastri, who was interim cricket manager for a while, writes a syndicated column that was marketed by another top sports management firm, the same firm that manages then captain Rahul Dravid. Shastri did not write for the duration he was coach but his contract has continued with the same agency even post the tour. It all makes for a somewhat bizarre situation.