Opinion - Why the Committee of Administrators have brought shame to BCCI

When the Supreme Court stepped in promising reform, there was hope. But two years since taking guard, the CoA has, realistically, yet to open its account.
File picture of Diana Edulji, Vinod Rai(PTI)
File picture of Diana Edulji, Vinod Rai(PTI)
Updated on Jan 16, 2019 09:41 AM IST
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New Delhi | ByAmrit Mathur

An accountant looking at Indian cricket’s balance sheet would be pleased. The books are neatly balanced: the rise of the team is matched by falling governance standards. But those judging sport on national prestige, not ledger entries, are appalled that administrative mishits dent India’s image in world cricket.

For long, Pakistan bossed the universe of off-field scams, squabbles and controversies. Players displayed flair and flamboyance in the middle, the management supplied high-quality entertainment beyond it. Pakistan have a rich history of player battles, allegations of drug use, wild stories of dressing room showdowns and proven cases of corruption. Captain Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir spent time in British jails.

These standards are difficult to match but the BCCI today is a dysfunctional body actively advertising its goof-ups. Indian cricket’s recent off-field governance track record is no better than that of a horribly out-of-form batsman struggling to put bat to ball.

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It wasn’t meant to be like this. When the Supreme Court stepped in promising reform, there was hope. But two years since taking guard, the CoA has, realistically, yet to open its account. With reforms nowhere in sight and governance in lockdown, Indian cricket is swinging crazily between the bizarre and the absurd.

If the CoA was subject to annual performance review, it would only merit an unflattering adverse entry in the service record. Anti-incumbency has set in and public sentiment indicates the CoA, supposedly the solution, is now the problem. The botched process of team India coach selection was the first administrative stumble, after that came the clumsy CEO inquiry, women’s cricket issues, various disagreements on policy and squabbles played out publicly through mail leaks and planted media stories.

Indian cricket’s latest episode, its Friday release in film parlance, is the Pandya /KL show. At a time when India should be celebrating the history-making win in Australia, attention is focused on the silly utterances of two immature players. Cricket made these young players role models and national heroes, which is why they carry a social responsibility to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. Also, as professionally contracted players, they are legally obliged to protect the image of the Indian team, BCCI and Indian cricket.

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The defence that statements were light-hearted, only for entertainment, spoken in the flow of the show doesn’t hold. Should the BCCI sensitise its players on such issues? Perhaps. But these two have been around for too long to know better. Maybe devoted fans are at fault for putting unworthy people on a pedestal and having unfair expectations from them.

The Indian team contributed to the ongoing drama by putting out conflicting voices about Jadeja’s fitness and why he missed out on a Test. Coach Shastri, who only knows front-foot batting, played attacking shots after defeating Australia, sarcastically thanking the media for ‘support’ and then launched into other critics for ‘firing blanks’ at his team.

Among all this, Virat Kohli stood out with statements praising Bumrah and Pujara that were mature and statesmen-like. His on-field conduct is over the top but, with microphone in hand, he is transformed --- composed and articulate, gracious and dignified. It would be hard to find anyone who does a post-match interview better than him.

If only those running Indian cricket could have Pujara’s commonsense, MSD’s composure and the competence of Kohli. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will tell BCCI to get down to work --- and forget the drama.

(The writer is a senior sports administrator and views are personal)

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