The Supreme Court’s decision to appoint of two financial wizards – Vinod Rai and Vikram Limaye – in a four-member panel to run the BCCI’s affairs has not come as a surprise. The BCCI recorded an annual income of ₹2,981.10 crore in 2015-16 and ever since the 2013 IPL betting and spot-fixing scandal broke, the court has focused on the way the Board has managed its wealth. By virtue of being India’s ex-Auditor General, 68-year-old Rai will surely understand the intricacies of finances and with Wall Street veteran Vikram Limaye to assist him, BCCI’s books will be under a real scanner. But managing finances and running the complex business of cricket across the length and breadth of India is easier said than done.
Rai, like any Indian, is a cricket lover. But he will have to be more than a nightwatchman if he wants to put Indian cricket on the right track. Sending a nightwatchman in is a normally seen as a defensive ploy when a team doesn’t want to lose a top batsman at the fag end of the day. Rai will probably have to be an opening batsman, who will quickly adjust to the swing and bounce of a wicket that is known to be tricky and treacherous.
The four-member panel has four weeks to submit its first status report to the Supreme Court. The BCCI has already cherry-picked changes suggested by the Lodha committee, ignoring the radical ones like age and tenure caps and one-state-one-vote policy. But executing these should be on the priority list of the Vinod Rai panel.
BCCI’s biggest earning comes from the sale of media rights. As against a ₹648 crore earnings in 2015-16, the Board is expecting around ₹1036.80 crore in 2016-17. This figure could break all records since the IPL rights are coming up for bids.With STAR Sports and SONY (current holders) willing to break their bank, BCCI could strike a gold mine in terms of earnings from broadcast rights. Rai and Limaye, an MBA from the US, will probably focus on this first. If Rai can ensure complete transparency in the IPL bidding process– a high-handed BCCI is known to show subtle favoritism to a certain broadcaster – it would have established faith in the biggest stakeholders of Indian cricket – the broadcasters and the corporate with deep pockets.
Virat Kohli’s team has remained untouched by all this courtroom drama. They have played good cricket and a win on Sunday’s third T20 against England will not only give them a series win but a lot of confidence to the young guns who are trying to gain a foothold in Indian cricket. Once the broadcast rights and finances are sorted, Rai and Co. will then have the greatest challenge, that of building up a new set of cricket officials, independent of the clutches of politicians and controversial businessmen.