The noose is tightening around the BCCI.
The Supreme Court’s direction that they implement the Justice Lodha Committee report has left them practically no wriggle room. You can almost hear the exit music being played for all the officials who would have walk off the stage as a result, and there are be some heavyweights among them, including Mumbai Cricket Association president Sharad Pawar and Tamil Nadu Cricket Association president N Srinivasan (both former BCCI presidents).
“They have no fall back for the first time ever,” sports lawyer Desh Gaurav Sekhri told Firstpost. “This [the Supreme Court] is the ultimate court of decision making. I don’t see any manoeuvring ability.
This, then, is the end game for the BCCI created by Jagmohan Dalmiya and IS Bindra back in the 1980s and 90s and taken to its apogee by N Srinivasan just a few short years ago.
The court has given the board a month to respond but a month is hardly enough time for all the state associations and other sundry members to analyse the report, hold general body meetings and provide suggestions, let alone time for the BCCI to collate those suggestions and hold its own general body meeting and then provide one comprehensive response to the Court.
“Their hands are basically tied,” Sekhri said. “Even if their intent is good, they can’t meet the requirements that the court has set. I think they are stuck.”
This is good news, of course, for all of us who believe the BCCI had become the equivalent of a rogue state, acting as and how it pleased and seemingly accountable to no one. They have finally been pushed into a corner by the only national institution that had the power, and somewhat surprisingly, the will to act against them.
Whatever quibbles one may have with the details of Lodha Committee report – and there are grounds for debate – the framework they have proposed with would result in the most progressive, inclusive and transparent sporting body anywhere in the world. Instead of being a bully intent only on pushing its own agenda and furthering its own interests, the BCCI would become a beacon on the hill the world over.
It would be a stunning and entirely unprecedented transformation. One cricket fans everywhere - not just in India – should celebrate. And also send thank you cards to Chief Justice TS Thakur, and Justice Ibrahim Kalifullah, who have not been swayed by the BCCI’s protestations in court.
But there is also room for caution. A new constitution would have to be written and ratified. Elections would have to be organised and supervised to ensure they are free and fair. And the new rules would result in the loss of a substantial amount of institutional knowledge as officials who have been around for decades are sent scurrying into involuntary retirement. There is potential for turmoil and uncertainty if the process is rushed and wholesale changes made overnight. The Lodha Committee report would also upend India’s domestic cricket structure by adding new members and new teams, which will require changes to the first-class cricket calendar.
At least some of the new members would require the time to set up the necessary cricket infrastructure in their states as well, and would probably require funding from the board in order to do so.
Making the same changes to the existing member state associations would be an even bigger task. In some cases, the same coterie has ruled cricket in their state for decades. They will not be so easily dislodged, as we can see from the example of the Delhi & District Cricket Association, whose officials have been immune to allegations of corruption for years.
It would therefore be prudent if the changes were allowed to take place gradually, with a court-appointed committee overseeing them, perhaps even containing the current set of BCCI officials. For example, board president Shashank Manohar experience and knowledge of Indian cricket bureaucracy could be put to good use cleaning up the system.
It took the Justice Lodha committee roughly a year to prepare its now seminal report. It would be sensible to allow at least that much time for it to be implemented for this is a task that is better done well than done quickly.