If you can’t fight them, join them, is a wonderful euphemism for compromise. Indian cricketers understand this very well and some of the most influential players have, over the years, become the mouthpieces of the establishment, reaping rich rewards in return.
From time to time, efforts have been made to form an association which could air the genuine concerns of players and force the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to address cricketing issues, without profits or power being the motivating factors behind a decision.
That these efforts failed, be it the Kapil Dev-led rebellion in the late eighties or the one led by the quartet of Ganguly-Tendulkar-Kumble-Dravid just before the 2003 World Cup. Since safeguarding personal interests rather than solving larger collective concerns of the players were the motives behind those moves, they were bound to fail, as they eventually did.
Today, as things stand, India is among the very few countries, apart from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, which does not have a players association that is recognised by their Board.
The BCCI sees this as a trade union activity and is loath to give them any representation in a decision-making body. The irony is that the international body, the ICC, headed by an Indian, recognises the international players’ body (FICA), but India does not.
This is soon to change as the Lodha panel recommendations have made it mandatory to have two players, a man and a woman, nominated by the players’ association, to become part of a nine-member apex body that will become the administrative wing of the Board.
To put this plan into action, the panel has recommended the formation of a steering committee — Anil Kumble, Mohinder Amarnath and Diana Eduljee — to oversee the formation of the association, which will have all the former Test and even first-class cricketers as their members. Once formed, the two bodies (men and women) will then nominate two players to the apex body.
For this to take concrete shape, the Lodha panel has set September 30 as a deadline for the Board to form the steering committee and put the process into action. According to the new set of deadlines given to the BCCI, the two associations have to be in place by November 30. The onus of providing administrative support and finances for this purpose also lies with the Board.
The biggest hurdle, even now, is the lack of any will or initiative by the Board to put this blueprint into action. They are still hoping against hope that a miracle could happen in the Supreme Court where their review petition gets a positive response.
This resistance to accept the inevitable is resulting in a lot of confusion and players across the country are either unaware of this provision or unsure of what lies ahead.
Some think that this recommendation has to be implemented at the state level as well and are seeking clarity, which is not forthcoming.
The Lodha panel report makes it clear that there will be only two national-level associations, one for men and the other for women, whereas at the state level all local Test and first class players are eligible to become members of their respective associations.
Only the Board can sort out all these confusions and before time runs out, they better put a proper system in place so that the voice of the players and their genuine concerns are not thwarted once again.