Ramachandra Guha hits out at Dhoni, Gavaskar over 'conflict of interest', slams BCCI's 'superstar syndrome'

FP Sports, Jun, 02 2017

After resigning as a member of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) citing "personal reasons", Guha released a letter on Friday alleging conflict of interest prevalent in the apex Indian cricket body with several veterans of the game involved in the BCCI as well as the IPL in various capacities — which has been shrouded in financial controversies since its inception in 2008.

The India after Gandhi writer notably singled out former Indian captains Sunil Gavaskar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni for what he alleged was a conflict of interest. In his letter he claimed that Gavaskar as the head of a company which represents Indian cricketers is in conflict of interest as he also is the member of BCCI's panel of commentators.

In the same letter, he also trained his guns at Dhoni, who he alleged was a stakeholder in a company, which also represented several Indian players (referring to the Chennai Superkings), while at the same time being the captain of the Indian team.

Denouncing the "superstar syndrome" in the cricketing world, Guha said that the practice damaged the system of player contracts. Guha slammed the board for awarding Dhoni with a Grade A contract even after he had retired as from Test cricket in December 2014.

"The BCCI management is too much in awe of these superstars to question their violation of norms and procedures. 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," he wrote in his letter to Vinod Rai.

Guha lent a hand of support to Team India coach Anil Kumble and condemned the way he has been treated by the management since the Kolhi-Kumble fiasco came to light.

File image of Ramachandra Guha. YouTube screengrab

File image of Ramachandra Guha. YouTube screengrab

“The way in which the contract of Anil Kumble, the current head coach of the senior team, has been handled. The Indian team’s record this past season has been excellent; and even if the players garner the bulk of the credit, surely the head coach and his support staff also get some. In a system based on justice and merit, the head coach’s term would have been extended. Instead, Kumble was left hanging, and then told the post would be re-advertised afresh,” Guha wrote in his letter to Rai

Saddened by the unprofessional manner in which Kumble's contract was handled, he not only attacked the BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and other top members of the board, but also felt the COA was complicit by not following the orders of the Supreme Court which mandated the committee to clean up the apex cricket body.

Invoking the "suprestar syndrome" issue, the academician raised the current friction between Kumble and Kohli, hitting back at the board for not resolving the conflict in the early months of 2017 itself. The letter also questioned how Kohli can get veto power on who can be the next coach and linked this development to the syndrome.

"If indeed the captain and the Head Coach were not getting along, why was not this attended to as soon as the Australia series was over in late March? Why was it left until the last minutes, when a major international tournament was imminent, and when the uncertainty would undermine the morale and ability to focus of the coach, the captain and the team. And surely giving senior players the impression that they may have a veto power over the coach is another example of superstar culture gone berserk? Such a veto power is not permitted to any other top level professional team in any other sport in any other country. Already, in a dismaying departure from international norms, current Indian players enjoy a veto power on who can be the members of the commentary team. If it is to be coaches next, then perhaps the selectors and even office-bearers will follow?"

Guha also lamented the alleged poor treatment of domestic cricketers by the world's richest cricket body, claiming that the COA was inactive in taking credible action on improving the conditions of domestic cricket in India. He also alleged that illegal members of the board attended meetings openly while good suggestions for the improvement in the system were just ignored.

"I believe it was a mistake for the COA to have stayed silent and inactive when the Supreme Court judgment was being so flagrantly violated by people clearly disqualified to serve as office bearers of state and even BCCI run cricket bodies. The disqualified men were openly attending BCCI meetings, claiming to represent their state association, and indeed plated a leading role in the concerted (if fortunately in the end aborted) attempt to get the Indian team to boycott the Champions Trophy. All these illegalities were widely reported in the press; 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."

While concluding his letter, Guha backed veteran seamer Javagal Srinath to take over his position in the COA. Interestingly, both Srinath and Kumble played for Karnataka and represented India at the international level.

"Based on my knowledge of the subject, I would say Javagal Srinath would be an excellent choice. He is a world-class cricketer, was a successful and scandal-free Secretary of the Karnataka State Cricket Association and is an ICC match referee, and comes from an educated technical background to boot."

The Supreme Court will hear Guha's plea, who is to be relieved from the responsibility, on 14 July.

A vacation bench of Justices MM Shantanagoudar and Deepak Gupta was informed by Guha's counsel that he had tendered his resignation on 28 May to Vinod Rai, Chairman of the Committee of Administrators of BCCI. The court said a special bench was seized of the matter and the petition should therefore be filed in the registry.

COA was constituted on 30 January, 2017 after the BCCI was reportedly reluctant to implement the recommendations of the Lodha panel, which sought to bring much more transparency in the working of the world's richest cricket body. Senior functionaries of the board including president Anurag Thakur were told to resign before the apex court intervened in the clean-up process.

The COA also consists of former Auditor General of India Rai, former cricketer Diana Edulji and veteran banker and Managing Director and CEO of IDFC Limited Vikram Limaye.

With inputs from PTI

Published Date: Jun 02, 2017 | Updated Date: Jun 02, 2017

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