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BCCI’s long-drawn strife with Vinod Rai-led CoA has pushed Indian cricket backwards

The state of suspension Indian cricket has been in over the past two years is sad and occasionally comical, as the CoA and BCCI squabble publicly over serious policy matters and trivial issues.

cricket Updated: Jun 28, 2018 10:39 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur
Hindustan Times
BCCI,CoA,Vinod Rai
It’s almost two years since the Supreme Court passed a clear order, and the CoA is running cricket since January 2017 - along with the BCCI.(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

When the Supreme Court stepped in to fix cricket, following controversies ranging from conflict of interest, corruption to betting scandals, some questioned the need for judicial intervention.

India, they argued, has millions of societies like BCCI and thousands (perhaps more) of these are in a bigger mess. BCCI is better run than other sporting bodies, so why should it attract special attention.

Let the regulator, registrar of companies, handle it like any other mismanaged society.

The court played with a straight bat, constructing a compelling justification based on cricket’s special position in India.

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The sport, it explained, belonged to fans and BCCI by its actions had breached their trust and hence the need to set the house in order keeping national interest in mind. With this, all objections dismissed, case was on.

Lodha committee followed, suggesting sweeping reforms directed at better governance, which meant stripping career officials of their power and patronage.

Fight drags on

BCCI fought back, refused to play ball and behaved like a petulant batsman who decides not to leave the field when dismissed. Presented with defiance instead of compliance, the court appointed a CoA to implement reforms, in effect imposing a sporting President’s rule.

It’s almost two years since it passed a clear order, and the CoA is running cricket since January 2017.

During this period it has produced eight status reports stating it has made zero progress and Lodha reforms remain a distant dream. Essentially, what promised to be a 20-over game has turned out a play-to-finish timeless Test; a surgical strike converted into long drawn trench warfare.

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A helpless CoA is seeking instructions from SC but in true ‘tareek par tareek’ style the matter hasn’t been heard for months.

This state of suspension is sad, occasionally comical, as the CoA and BCCI squabble publicly over serious policy matters (day/night Tests, fitness standards, domestic cricket payment structure) and trivial issues (jaunts, allowances, match tickets, sub-committee meetings). This unseemly tug of war is seriously damaging cricket.

Development activities have ceased because states are starved of funds. Management stands paralysed as officials are unsure whether they will continue to hold office, or sent on compulsory ‘cooling’.

Mumbai and Delhi are governed by non-domain expert outsiders and cricket has hit a pause in Hyderabad and Rajasthan. It is easy to argue that Indian cricket has taken a backward step instead of moving forward.

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The current uncertainty and confusion is not without a touch of irony. As matters drag on, both CoA and (the old) BCCI stay in office and neither is directly accountable to stakeholders.

There is hope this will change with a fresh constitution and fresh elections that will throw up fresh faces. But seeing the elections playing out in DDCA, not everyone is sure the ground reality of power and influence will change.

There are no proxy votes but proxy candidates and the campaign is full of social media outreach, video clips, persistent calls -- and daily get-togethers.

All legit in a democratic setup, but when similar power struggles are unleashed in various states, the average fan would feel abandoned. Has the SC restored his trust?

First Published: Jun 28, 2018 10:32 IST