In Bengaluru 'time pass' is an essential ingredient of watching sport at the venue. Of course you would miss out on this if you had occupied posh stands during the Indian Premier League (IPL). But in all other sports venues you can buy this 'time pass' from peanut vendors. A quarter of an old newspaper sheet is rolled into a cone and filled with 'time pass' which many spectators leisurely pop and chew till the final whistle or stumps.
Ramachandra Guha who is aware of Bengaluru’s ethos, particularly as he watches a bit of cricket, probably feels that his stint with the Committee of Administrators was very similar to 'time pass'; spend a little time there with others before moving on.
While he had his 'time pass' in the COA, what is disappointing is Guha’s lack of appreciation of team work. The way he has gone on about what he said or wrote to the COA can be compared to a musician in an ensemble claiming he had played his part but the rest of the orchestra messed up because they could not come together!
Guha reminded the COA that he had asked them to include a male cricketer in the panel, because the absence of one had “attracted a great deal of criticism”. This is even more puzzling. Wasn’t the appointment of members to the COA a privilege of the Supreme Court? In that case, how can Guha and COA appoint another member?
While on the issue, Guha and even Justice Lodha panel would do well if they went into a fact-finding mission of KSCA’s (Karnataka State Cricket Association) ERP adventures. They would be in for a surprise or two, particularly the Lodha panel which mentions it in their report.
It is not the intention of this article to criticise or defend Rahul Dravid’s advisors who could not differentiate between letter of the law and the spirit behind it. Sourav Ganguly, Sunil Gavaskar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whom Guha has either mentioned or alluded to would also have enough advisors to bat for them.
But his take on Ranji Trophy cricketers and comparing their earnings to IPL players is a bit of playing to the gallery. Of course Ranji players, Guha’s “many more Indian cricketers”, could be paid well. But already over 100 Ranji Trophy players are involved in IPL franchises and take home a hefty packet. For many this “moonlighting” is in addition to the regular nine to five job they hold. Additionally, better organised state associations like KSCA and Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) already have their own premier leagues that pay players reasonably well. Why hasn’t Guha asked other states to follow suit or even suggested new revenue streams for Ranji Trophy players?
Instead, Guha has only picked on some of things his team has not done.
Some of the finger-pointing include:
“...I had first raised this issue to my COA colleagues in an email of 1st February, and have raised it several times since.”
“...The BCCI management and office-bearers have, in the absence of explicit directions from the COA, allowed the status quo to continue...”
“I have also repeatedly pointed to the anomaly whereby BCCI-contracted commentators simultaneously act as player agents. In a mail of 19th March to the COA I wrote ...”
“...Yet, despite my warnings, no action has been initiated in the several months that the committee has been in operation...”
“...Supreme Court appointed body should not be intimidated by the past or present achievements of a cricketer, and instead seek to strive to be fair and just...”
“...As you will recall, I had pointed out that awarding MS Dhoni an ‘A’ contract when he had explicitly ruled himself out from all Test matches was indefensible on cricketing grounds, and sends absolutely the wrong message...”
“...handled in an extremely insensitive and unprofessional manner by the BCCI CEO and the BCCI office-bearers, with the COA, by its silence and inaction, unfortunately being complicit in this regard...”
“...Both Diana and I have repeatedly urged action, but this has not happened...”
“...yet the COA did not bring them to the notice of the court, and did not issue clear directions asking the offenders to desist either..."
Guha might have done the right thing by quitting. But he ought to have gone silently. By finger-pointing at the rest of the team he has shown he knows little of team dynamics. He might feel vindicated by letting off steam by way of the letter. But he has done himself and the team a disservice by writing it. Hopefully, we won’t have the COA shooting off a retort. That would be too much to stomach in this season of discontent.
Editor's note: An earlier version of the article had wrongly stated that Ramachandra Guha “will be away on an overseas assignment for the next four to five months” and that “he ought to have gone overseas silently.” We apologise to him and our readers for the error.