The Indian cricket board may be fighting a credibility battle, trying to reform its functioning before the Supreme Court-appointed Justice RM Lodha panel gives its recommendations that will have to be implemented. However, its Delhi unit has been impervious to any such image makeover down 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.
While the DDCA and its senior officials face serious charges of financial impropriety, no season goes without controversies in the selection of teams, from age-groups sides to the Ranji squad. That was the case this year as well, and allegations that different officials favour different set of players, even officials, vitiating the atmosphere around the Ferozeshah Kotla.
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 municipal authorities to stage the fourth and final Test between India and South Africa --- the court gave the association a breather on Wednesday --- 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 have 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 Board of Control for Cricket in India (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 bunch of powerful officials treat the association as their personal fiefdom and repeatedly face allegations of interference in selection matters. In a bid to corner the votes, some of these officials insist on members giving them proxy to cast ballots. There have 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 of 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 the most precarious situation.