The Lodha Committee does not believe that the Board of Control for Cricket in India is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to implementing all its recommendations. It is certain that the BCCI is playing hardball and believes that they have to only get rid of the 'entire top brass' to ensure that all the state units fall in line.
The BCCI’s repeated pleas that it cannot force the state units to accept all the recommendations are met with disdain. Choking the funding of affiliated units was seen as one way to pressurise them. Even that has not worked thus far.
But why are the affiliated units so stubborn and reluctant to accept the Lodha recommendations?
To understand that one has to reverse the gaze and see the Lodha Committee recommendations from the state units’ point of view. And what they see is nothing to get enthused about.
Take the case of Mumbai Cricket Association, a key component of the three cricket associations within the state of Maharashtra (Gujarat has three associations as well). Mumbai should not be expected to be in a hurry to commit harakiri by sacrificing their right to have a vote in the BCCI. They have a hoary connect with the game predating Independence and their contribution to the development of cricket cannot be questioned.
Yet Mumbai, the indisputable heart and home of Indian cricket, would be relegated to second or even third class status if they accepted the Lodha Committee report in toto. Why would they want to voluntarily disarm and simultaneously load power, privileges, and rights to cricketing non-entities Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh and other such States?
Senor journalist Ashok Malik in his hard-hitting article titled ‘Judicial Jihad Against BCCI’ points out that distributing money and votes to them would “mean about a third — roughly eight to 10 — of state cricket associations the Supreme Court insists will now be the only voters in a BCCI election will essentially be letterhead associations with very little to show in terms of actual contribution to the national cricket endeavour.”
Now where does that leave Mumbai? Of course it can take part in tournaments. But without a place in the high table its funds would soon be choked off. This would seriously hamper its long and short term cricket development programs. Without a voice it would even be deprived of lucrative international matches.
The Lodha Committee could have granted Mumbai special status, merged Vidarbha with Maharashtra and likewise merged all three associations of Gujarat. That would have been logical and could have stifled criticism. The committee has also spiked Railways – the largest employer of sportsmen – and Services, another great provider of employment to sportsmen. But that’s another matter altogether.
Even within state associations it would be tough to enforce changes. Take the case of the Karnataka State Cricket Association. They have around 1930 voting members (1600 life members and 330 clubs and institutional members). They have around 4000 non-voting members in the queue who could become voters following vacancies owing to death of voting members. While in the queue they are permitted to use the Clubhouse facilities.
Many voters were bestowed with voting rights after waiting dozens of long years in the queue. Brijesh Patel who became a voting member in the early 1980s was the lone ex-Test cricketer in the mix until he as Hony Secretary of KSCA brought in a constitutional amendment to ensure that former India cricketers were also made voting members. Thus GR Vishwanath, EAS Prasanna, BS Chandrasekhar, Syed Kirmani, Roger Binny, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, et al became voters. It was truly a momentous occasion for Karnataka cricket.
Patel was extremely successful in procuring land on lease in many parts of the state and was instrumental in developing outstanding cricketing facilities in many of these places. (This year Ranji Trophy matches would be held in Belgaum, Hubbali, and Mysuru. Shivamogga and rural Bengaluru too have brilliant facilities primed for top line matches.)
KSCA has a great system of talent spotting (KL Rahul is from Mangalore; Vinay Kumar from Davangere), wonderful scheme of private coaching with the best players inducted into state academy, year-long nets in various moffusil centres, state of the art training centre in Bengaluru. KSCA conducts umpteen age-group and league tournaments, including the highly successful KPL under floodlights in Hubbali and Mysuru.
The state is a powerhouse in Indian cricket with Ranji Trophy and other national titles regularly falling in its lap. It contributes cricketers to the national team, successfully stages international matches, has outstanding facilities for its members and importantly has a clean, open system of accounting.
Now, according to Lodha Committee, the members should vote to sever links between club and association. Why? Because somebody does not like it.
Honestly, why would any member want to tamper with a system that is working brilliantly well for him and state cricket?
Actually the fortunes of the club and association are linked in more ways than the Lodha Committee had delved. Asking them to now collectively commit suicide is a bit rich.
Hopefully it is not too late for the Lodha Committee to step back and have a re-look at some of its recommendations.