The recent developments in the BCCI may tempt some to call it the Board of Confusion in Cricket in India. Even for a body whose functioning has come under the scanner of the Supreme Court, no less, the apparent chaos in the wake of Anil Kumble’s decision to withdraw as head coach of the Indian team comes as a rude shock.
Be it revising the deadline for applications for the top job, or the manner in which the process was carried out; be it Sourav Ganguly’s grandiose announcement that the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) would wait to announce its decision or the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Adminsitrators (CoA) forcing an announcement, chaos rather than discipline is evident.
Worse, the CAC exceeded its brief in naming Rahul Dravid as the batting consultant for overseas tours and Zaheer Khan as bowling consultant. Having decided to place their faith in Ravi Shastri as the head coach, the CAC should have left it to him to find the right kind of support staff. Surely, they would have mentioned this to Shastri during their conversations, but there was unholy hurry with which these two new positions were revealed.
Of course, Dravid and Zaheer are excellent choices as consultants but, by their very definition, consultants would not be available with the Indian team all the time. The squad would need full-time batting, bowling and fielding coaches. None would know this better than those answering to the names of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman.
You can argue that the CAC, working pro bono as it does, has powers to choose the entire support staff and you won’t be wrong. But in naming consultants rather than coaches, CAC made it clear that it intended to tie Shastri’s pair of bootlaces and expected him to dance without stumbling. Even if all three men had decided to nominate the consultants, they were being short-sighted.
Now, having endorsed the decision to name Dravid and Zaheer as consultants, neither the CAC nor BCCI management can back off. They can have legal consultants carefully word the letters of appointment as much as they want, but they cannot quite take a step back and apologetically announce that there was a clerical error in announcing these two names.
If anything, a great deal of the current chaos is the direct result of the lack of strong leadership within the BCCI as we know it. For an organisation that had leaders like Jagmohan Dalmiya, Inderjit Singh Bindra, Sharad Pawar and N Srinivasan – despite his blind spot called Gurunath Meiyappan – it is currently bereft of any leadership.
Come to think of it, it will not be too far off the mark to say that at least a couple of members of its staff are using their access to the COA – and perhaps the players – to play the BCCI’s so-called leaders. They have fallen prey to the intoxicated feeling that comes with assumed power.
Then again, some of the confusion is clearly due to the lack of understanding within the COA about its role. Instead of going about the assigned task of getting the BCCI’s governance structure in place according to the Supreme Court's orders, members of the COA got involved in the day-to-day administration of the Board.
From changing the national women’s team coach to pushing the CAC to announce its nominee for the position of the head coach of the men’s team, from asking Kumble to make a presentation about the value of contracts for players and support staff to reportedly asking the BCCI to put Shastri, Dravid and Zaheer’s impending contract on hold, it has done everything it can to keep the pot stirred.
Some are inclined to believe that the manner in which the COA has gone about this task will have given the very officials, whose reign the Supreme Court has sought to curb, a chance to flourish.
From a distance, and if it has the time away from the dozens of matters of utmost importance that it hears and adjudicates upon each day, even the highest court in the country could be left wondering if its choice of people for the COA was the best. Two of the COA members were relieved by the court on 14 June and a third has played the media with delight and impunity.
The sooner the Supreme Court restores sanity within the portals of BCCI the greater will be the chances that the country's apex cricket body will regain its name as Board of Control for Cricket in India.