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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

BCCI disciplinary laws need relook

A larger issue with the DK show cause is about the ground rules and the unequal player-administration relationship

cricket Updated: Sep 11, 2019 10:19 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Dinesh Karthik was seen sitting in the Trinbago Knight Riders dressing room during the Caribbean Premier League
Dinesh Karthik was seen sitting in the Trinbago Knight Riders dressing room during the Caribbean Premier League(Getty Images)
         

Served a show cause notice that threatened ‘annulment’ of his annual contract, Dinesh Karthik was truly stumped. Sensing the wind was blowing against him, he promptly submitted an unconditional apology to douse the fire. Sensible because in any conflict with BCCI, swift surrender is the best insurance policy. That is the art of batting on a sticky wicket.

Players know this is a game they can’t win and a quick apology will invite leniency. A stern warning will be issued and after that all will be well. This is how the script usually plays out.

A larger issue with the DK show cause is about the ground rules and the unequal player-administration relationship. In this instance, there isn’t clarity about the clauses infringed or the exact nature of violation. Apparently, BCCI saw red on finding out the player was present at a T20 tournament in the West Indies.

What is also public is the judge who issued the warning also had the authority to decide the case.

Also Read: ‘Why would Rohit get five 100s’: Shastri on the alleged Kohli-Rohit rift

DK has only regretted ‘embarking on this visit without taking permission’. No mention of any specific breach, though reports indicate centrally contracted players can’t endorse/support one-day leagues. If that is the case, he crossed the line.

Still, it’s not unreasonable to ask whether being present amounts to endorsing/supporting a foreign league. Even if it is, is it material enough to justify contract termination? Also, why put tough restrictions on players when they have to accept whatever is imposed on them.

That a player is asked/questioned/held accountable for a contract is a first for Indian cricket. Normally, contracts are something players sign without reading, except the part which mentions their salary.

The rest is tossed aside, like we do when signing all kinds of forms. Not many read or understand the conditions that apply; few look for the devil in the detail, the small print that comes back to bite. Quite likely, players don’t read carefully BCCI / ICC policies about doping, racism, anti-corruption or the MCC Spirit of Cricket. BCCI recently brought out an excellent handbook about all these things to educate players, but it isn’t certain whether they are aware this exists. The irony is officials responsible for issuing such guidelines are equally hazy about the contents.

BCCI’s player contract is tight and binding: it lists player deliverables, technical details about availability/performing to full ability/maintaining fitness. Others cover conduct, being professional/protecting cricket’s values and image of BCCI. Plus the all encompassing clause about causing ‘disrepute to cricket’.

The core of contracts lists commercial responsibilities: sponsor commitments, BCCI promotion, non-compete clauses to protect official partners, media involvement, dangerous sports (para sailing, scuba diving, hand gliding, motor racing), participation in non-approved matches and the like. Over time, many relatively minor conditions are violated but not noticed or ignored.

Stars flout clothing regulations, sport non-official logos and turn up in army fatigues carrying the wrong back pack. MSD ‘balidan’ logo, a clear breach, was not just condoned but supported in ‘national interest’.

Players are restrained from media interaction but this doesn’t inhibit them in the least at events organised by their personal sponsors. Any comment on selection is a no-no but lately there is a deluge with players taking swipes through the media. Manoj Tiwary, Sheldon Jackson and Jalaj Saxena raised questions about domestic cricket performances. Murali Vijay bemoaned the lack of communication in selection matters.

Ambati Rayudu posted a cheeky response on social media about 3D players and 3D glasses. Even Shubhman Gill expressed disappointment at not getting a call. DK has moved on, but someone will raise his hand to ask a question. Any system that requires a retired Yuvraj Singh to seek permission to play needs a second look.

(The writer is a veteran sports administrator)

First Published: Sep 11, 2019 09:11 IST

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