For all the riches the Indian cricket board has accumulated, and the clout which has come with big money, it has repeatedly failed to demonstrate its will to do the right thing, or be seen to be doing it.
The BCCI’s decision to suggest Ravi Shastri, RK Raghavan and Justice JN Patel to the Supreme Court for the new internal spot-fixing inquiry committee will only erode its thin administrative credibility. Serious conflict of interest questions have been raised. The names will have to first be accepted by the Apex Court when it hears the spot-fixing case next on Tuesday, but it the Board seems to have squandered another opportunity it really wants to set its house in order.
Former skipper Shastri can’t be blamed. He was picked by a select group of BCCI office-bearers. But the former all-rounder will have to answer conflict of interest questions as he is paid by the BCCI as a TV commentator, an indication that one of the least popular but most powerful national Boards may not otherwise be defended on air. He is also a member of the governing council of the IPL, which is the focus of all corruption charges.
Ever since the spot-fixing scandal erupted – it was exposed by the police and not BCCI’s security watchdog – the only pro-active step taken by the national body has been to protect its powerful president, N Srinivasan. After the board’s initial two-member probe committee was ruled illegal by the Bombay high court, after it gave a clean chit to officials of both franchises under the cloud, including Chennai Super Kings’ Gurunath Meiyappan, Srinivasan’s son-in-law.
If cricket corruption is still in the national consciousness, it is because the issue reached the Supreme Court. And the court-appointed Justice Mukul Mudgal panel has conclusively said Meiyappan, charged with illegal betting and passing team information, is a key CSK official.
Shastri has in the past defended the BCCI at every opportunity. Raghavan, who was director of the Central Bureau of Investigation in 2000 when the bureau report on match-fixing rocked the game globally, is an office-bearer of a lower-division team in the league of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, of which Srinivasan is the president. He was also a witness before the Mudgal panel.
Former BCCI president, Sharad Pawar, has also suggested that Justice Patel could be related to interim BCCI president, Shivlal Yadav. But few would be surprised by these developments. Regardless of who has been at the helm, the BCCI has tried to hide than reveal.
And spot-fixing may not be the biggest IPL controversy. Questions about ownership patterns, allegations of serious financial violations and the manner in which some of the franchises were chosen and terminated have never been probed. The BCCI clings on to its autonomy, confident cricket’s popularity will allow it to ride over everything.