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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

Cricket

SC appoints Gavaskar as BCCI working president
Agencies
New Delhi, March 28, 2014
First Published: 11:13 IST(28/3/2014)
Last Updated: 20:02 IST(28/3/2014)
Former Indian cricketer Sunil Gavaskar at BCCI headquarters in Mumbai.

The Supreme Court on Friday appointed Test great Sunil Gavaskar as temporary president of the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) for the duration of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 competition in place of N Srinivasan.

Srinivasan, one of the leading powerbrokers in international cricket, is yet to comment on Friday's decision. He earlier this week rejected the SC's urging that he voluntarily step aside from the BCCI role to enable free and fair probe in the betting and spot-fixing scandal involving his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan and some cricketers.

Gavaskar will work with another former test cricketer, Shivlal Yadav, a senior vice president of the BCCI.

An apex court bench headed by justice AK Patnaik said as the interim president Gavaskar would only be concerned with matters related to the seventh edition of the IPL, which is scheduled to begin on April 16.

"This judgment is for cricket lovers. We do not want to suspend any team or player before the IPL," Patnaik said.

Gavaskar will decide whether Sundar Raman, CEO of IPL, shall continue or some other person has to be engaged, the apex court said.

He will have to discontinue his work as a cricket commentator to avoid any conflict of interest, the court said. However, it ordered that he be adequately compensated by the cricket board for any loss of earnings, it said.

Yadav, a former India offspinner who played under Gavaskar's captaincy, told reporters he would abide by the court's order.

"The Supreme Court has given an order. I will fulfil it," he said.

The apex court also allowed Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, the two teams at the centre of investigations into illegal betting and spot-fixing, to play during IPL season 7 and said the IPL matches will go on as per schedule.

Several players were arrested last year, including test paceman Shantakumaran Sreesanth, for allegedly spot fixing - or conceding a specified number of runs in exchange for money from bookmakers.

The court did not penalize any teams or players as part of the judgment.

C Aryama Sundaram, the lawyer representing the BCCI, welcomed the court's order.

"We are very glad that the order that has been passed today is in keeping with the proposal which the BCCI itself had given" to the top court, Sundaram told reporters.

"The BCCI will not oppose Sunil Gavaskar's interim appointment."

Sundaram also welcomed the court's decision to allow the IPL to go ahead as scheduled, saying any order that led to its disruption would "heavily impact the success of the IPL and would affect millions of cricket-loving public."

"I am very glad to say that the court has not, in any manner, interfered with the IPL. It has not passed any order which interferes with any team participating in the IPL," Sundaram said.

The court will reconvene on April 16 to continue its investigation into the IPL.

Srinivasan's position on the BCCI has been considered untenable since a three-member committee, headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal, found Chennai Super Kings team principal Meiyappan guilty of being in contact with illegal bookmakers in its report forwarded to the SC.

Srinivasan said that Meiyappan was "just a cricket enthusiast" even though he was seen regularly at players' auctions and in the team dugout.

Srinivasan, set to take over as chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC) board in July, is the head of India Cements - the company that owns the IPL franchise CSK.

Meiyappan was indicted last month on charges of betting and passing on information to illegal bookmakers. Meiyappan spent two weeks in jail last year before being granted bail.

The finding came after the Bombay high court last year referred to the two-member BCCI panel that initially cleared Meiyappan of his charges as "illegal and unconstitutional."

Justice Patnaik said the court was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the allegations against Srinivasan until the court completes its case on the IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal.

The scandal surfaced when Sreesanth and two other local cricketers, all playing for the Rajasthan Royals franchise, were arrested on suspicion of taking money to concede a fixed number of runs.

Sreesanth, who had denied any wrongdoing, was subsequently banned for life by the BCCI.

The United Arab Emirates will host the first leg of the Twenty20 league from April 16-30 as this year's tournament clashes with parliamentary elections in the world's biggest democracy.

Voting in India will be held in nine stages to May 12 and results are due to be announced on May 16. With poll security being the Indian government's priority, UAE would host at least 16 IPL matches, the BCCI said earlier this month.

The board has approached the Union home ministry for permission to host the May 1-12 matches in states where polling would be over, but has kept Bangladesh as a standby venue in case the government cannot provide security.

(With PTI, AFP, AP and Reuters inputs)

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