The Board Of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI) may be fighting a credibility battle, trying to reform its functioning before the Supreme Court-appointed Justice RM Lodha panel gives its recommendations that it will have to implement.
However, its Delhi unit has been impervious to any such image makeover for decades. The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) has been both the target of serious allegations as well as a butt of jokes, but despite protests led by former Delhi and India stalwarts, few steps have been taken to cleanse the system. But seldom has the malaise within the organisation running cricket in the Capital come into the public domain as it has now.
While the DDCA has once again knocked on the doors of the Delhi High Court to get temporary clearance from the municipal authorities to stage the fourth and final Test between India and South Africa — the court directions on tax dues seem to have salvaged the issue for the moment — there is a desperate need for a purge in the association.
The latest crisis has been the result of a complaint by former players led by Bishan Singh Bedi and Kirti Azad. Unlike in the past when their protests had not led to the logical conclusion, this time the Delhi government took it up seriously, and its three-member committee has recommended the DDCA’s suspension by the BCCI, and bringing it under the RTI Act to ensure more accountability and transparency in the running of one of India’s major regional cricket bodies.
While there are several issues, the root of the problem in the DDCA is in its proxy system. A small group of powerful officials treats the association as their personal fiefdom and repeatedly faces allegations of interference in selection matters.
In a bid to corner the votes, some officials insist on members giving them proxy to cast the ballot. There have been several instances in the past of those insisting on casting the votes themselves, not even getting the communication for elections.
While the BCCI can boast having a vibrant regional administrative set-up, unlike many other sports federations, it has hardly done much to push its Delhi unit into the path of reform. But with the board itself fighting to salvage its image, it cannot be seen as being indifferent to demands that its Delhi unit is in a most precarious situation.