Hell hath no fury like a Lodha Committee guideline scorned!
The BCCI learnt this lesson rather swiftly when Justice JM Lodha, despite being reportedly struck by the dreaded chikanguniya virus, decided to brave it and sit through a panel meeting after the BCCI rebelliously went ahead with its “elections” and “selections”. A miffed Lodha panel, convinced that it had been defied, particularly after BCCI initially made noises agreeing to toe the line, requested the Supreme Court to remove the offenders – the entire top brass of BCCI – and appoint administrators who would be obedient and thereby Lodha Committee compliant.
That many of Lodha Committee’s original recommendations were downright impractical – like the one not to show advertisements between overs or at the fall of wickets, or letting out the cricket stadia for others sports in a bid to earn revenue – was earlier pointed out and thankfully shot down by the Supreme Court.
But there are a few more recommendations, particularly the Lodha panel getting into administrative issues, that are cause for concern.
The Lodha Committee, when it was formed, was hailed for the changes it was expected to initiate. It was believed that it would usher in transparency and accountability and thereby bring in best practises which would ultimately lead to the strengthening of the Board and Indian cricket.
But that does not come through clearly. On the other hand, it seems like some of the Lodha panel’s recommendations could end up wrecking the decision-making ability of Indian cricket and also its hard-fought hold on international cricket.
Why, for instance, is Lodha vexed that president Anurag Thakur would represent BCCI in the ICC? The chairman of ICC Shashank Manohar, belonging to a family of eminent legal luminaries, has already said that it was not for him to protect India’s interest. The BCCI had to do it on its own, he had stated. The BCCI was convinced that it would soon have to take on Manohar and the ICC in the interest of Indian cricket and for that it needed the right representative to bat for it.
The jettisoning of the two-tier Test proposal and BCCI’s threat to pull out of the ICC Champions Trophy in England are part of the hard bargaining in the quest to save India’s hold on world cricket. And it could have been pulled off only by a tough, seasoned administrator.
But the Lodha panel is furious that Anurag Thakur, and in his absence Sharad Pawar, have been nominated to represent India at ICC meetings. Surely the Lodha panel does not want a namby-pamby who would be putty in the hands of England, Australia and the ICC’s administrators to be put in charge of Indian cricket’s interests.
The Lodha panel has to only listen to what cricketers and keen followers of the game have to say about the ICC Cricket Committee’s tweaking with the field restriction rules in ODIs to realise how easy it is to hoodwink some of our representatives. These field restrictions rules fail to protect the interests of spinners (India’s forte) with the result that the only ones benefited are fast bowlers and power hitters.
It may be recalled that it was similar tweaking of rules that sent Indian hockey into near oblivion. Very soon, unless BCCI sends its shrewdest and least gullible representatives to the ICC, Indian cricket too could go the hockey way.
It is important that the Lodha Committee sends out a clear message that it is not interested in decimating BCCI and weakening the structure of Indian cricket. Unfortunately most people, including those opposed to BCCI, believe that Lodha panel would do just that: demolish BCCI and with it cricket structure in India.
Unfortunately, both BCCI and Lodha Committee don’t seem to be working with each other for the betterment of Indian cricket. BCCI supporters point out that the Lodha Committee met mostly flopped administrators, disgruntled elements and those with an axe to grind either against the BCCI or their respective state associations. This ensured that they did not get a balanced feedback. Why did the committee that met the “disgruntled” and “flop administrators” in five star hotels not go around observing various state associations’ working and get a true picture, they ask.
Alternately it is obvious from recent statements that the BCCI is firing its guns from former cricketers’ shoulder. Why these stalwarts did not speak earlier defies logic. For that matter, BCCI officials must also realise that they made a blunder by not meeting the Lodha Committee and clarifying various issues during the early days.
In the present instance of conducting its AGM against the diktats of the committee, BCCI might get away by explaining that retaining Ajay Shirke as secretary was continuation of the old order. But the “selection” of the five-man selection committee would be constituted as waving a red rag.
It may be a coincidence that there are at least two high profile Supreme Court orders are currently in the eye of the storm – BCCI-Lodha imbroglio and the Cauvery Water sharing formula. The Karnataka chief minister believes that the SC orders have him stuck between a rock and a hard place and very soon he may have to decide whether he wants to be in contempt of court or stay in government.
Sadly the BCCI-Lodha entanglement is also increasingly being seen as hurtling towards a heads-you-win, tails-we-lose scenario.