BCCI’s dilly-dallying on Supreme Court verdict has left everyone fatigued | Column | cricket | Hindustan Times
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BCCI’s dilly-dallying on Supreme Court verdict has left everyone fatigued | Column

There were reasons Supreme Court of India had to pay attention to cricket -- the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) acts as a ‘state’ and is open to judicial review. Moreover, as cricket belongs to the fans, a surgical strike for cleaning the system is in national interest.

cricket Updated: Oct 05, 2017 10:37 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur
Hindustan Times
BCCI,Board of Control for cricket in India,Lodha Panel
The Supreme Court of India verdict, announced a year ago, was adverse but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) converted a fight to the finish into a fight that does not seem to finish. (HT Photo)

When Supreme Court launched the swachh cricket campaign, the aam aadmi wondered why the BCCI was being targeted when ten million other cases were pending in the courts.

Others, baffled by the total silence of the Registrar of societies, wanted to know whether the courts would also rip into every non-performing society.

There were reasons for the court to pay special attention to cricket. It is well established that the BCCI acts as a ‘state’ and is open to judicial review. Moreover, as cricket belongs to the fans, a surgical strike for cleaning the system is in national interest.

The BCCI, unwittingly, supported this position by scoring self goals and losing the perception game. The verdict, announced a year ago, was adverse but the BCCI converted a fight to the finish into a fight that does not seem to finish. The overriding sentiment now is of utter fatigue-- you wish this messy chapter would end for cricket to start a fresh innings.

Apart from the reform saga, three other issues need to be addressed. One problem, spreading across states, is corruption in team selection, especially at junior levels. This is already a well-organised start-up industry, similar to the racket in school admissions and buying seats in engineering/medical colleges. With anxious parents willing to go the extra mile, and pay the extra rupee, there is a rate card for pushing the right buttons at the right time.

The selection ‘fix’ is done by cricket coaches and cricket clubs, in collusion with corrupt lower level cricket officials. A close look at junior team selection is enough to raise suspicion. In many states, a large number of kids at the under 14-16-19 levels are selected and named standbyes, then suddenly dropped -- often without playing a game. This churn in selection is not based on cricket merit.

Fudging age to play age-group tournaments is an age old problem. The BCCI cracked down on this by scrutinising documents and mandating medical tests to determine age. Though many offenders were caught for age fraud, some still beat the system to gain unfair advantage. But this short-term gain hurts them in the long run as they get found out when competing with seniors.

The IPL’s ills are well-advertised and recently a new industry - of rogue leagues - has come up. The business model of these unsanctioned leagues is scandalously simple. A travelling circus consisting of strange players/ officials/ umpires/ promoters/owners arrives in a city to play an IPL-style tournament where matches are outrageously fixed.

Alarmed by cricket’s grey market, the BCCI went into action mode. Registered players were told to stay away from unapproved matches and its Anti Corruption Unit worked with local police to arrest people in Jaipur and Kanpur. Illegal matches, at least for the moment, stand demonetised.

Given cricket’s powerful commercial appeal, there is always temptation for some to bend the rules. It is for the administrators to remain on top of their game to ensure cricket’s operating systems are not corrupted by outside viruses!

(Amrit Mathur is a senior cricket writer and has been involved with IPL in official capacity)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author

First Published: Oct 05, 2017 10:37 IST