In all probability, in less than 36 hours, the Supreme Court will either stamp its approval or throw out Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) Sunday morning AGM amendments to the much-argued Lodha reforms. The Court is expected to hear BCCI's case in the ongoing week.
Board members say that the clause all rules and regulations amended have to be vetted by the Court is not there in Lodha reforms and that it was added by the Committee of Administrators.
The Board's stand is that it has 38 affiliated units, each with its own set of issues. Every time one of them needs to tweak a rule out of emerging contingencies they would have to approach the Court, as per the CoA mandated clause. This is impractical, they believe.
There are tens of thousands of organisations in India operating under Society's Act. If they can tweak their rules and regulations as deemed fit by their general body it stands to reason that BCCI and its affiliated units too should be permitted to do the same, especially as they too are formed under similar act.
The mounting criticism that the current set of office-bearers want to return BCCI to old ways would hardly hold good, especially when seen in terms of perpetuity. There are clauses like term of office, cooling-off period, age bar, eligibility, as laid down by core Lodha reforms which could be set in stone and thus act as a firewall against 'return to old ways'.
If criticism is to be made against the current crop it should be for the attempt to apportion all powers to the president and secretary. The AGM leaving it to the duo to choose selectors, Cricket Advisory Committee, hand-holding of newly-formed NE associations and controlling CEO is deplorable and will lead to an unhealthy concentration of power and it is this that needs careful scrutiny.
Ganguly's observation that no ex-player wants to work on an honorary basis is real. But that does not mean the president and secretary can then take it on themselves to appoint a CAC or choose selectors, coach and others as they wish. That certainly would be a return to old ways when personal equations, likes and dislikes carried a lot more weight than anything else.
The arguments against cooling-off period have occupied so much time and effort, both in Court and outside and the same is now being carried on even after BCCI elections. Ganguly and Jay Shah, the secretary, certainly have a point. But whether the Court will see their continuation as a one-off or accept it as a norm remains to be seen.
The cooling-off clause, age bar and ineligibility of politicians and government servants are the core of Lodha Reforms. Tweaking them could make the reforms itself redundant.
It is good that the AGM has recommended the secretary to represent BCCI at the ICC Chief Executive meeting. In fact a charismatic negotiator like Ganguly should have gone for it. BCCI's expenditure has shot up by leaps and bounds these last three years and any further slash on its share by ICC will be a major blow.
The last three years have seen a tremendous outflow in expenditure owing to hefty salary hikes across the eco-system, increase in number of affiliated units and consequently teams taking part in BCCI tournaments.
Additionally, women's cricket too has been given a tremendous boost by Diana Edulji of CoA. Combined with India junior teams' overseas travel, camps, equipment, support staff, National Cricket Academy, etc BCCI's expenditure is at an all-time high. The Board needs a strong voice in ICC to get its due share of revenue and also to ensure that its revenues from ICC Test Championship and ICC ODI League are not encroached upon.
Verily the AGM should have discussed cricket too; like the need to urgently shut down some meaningless tournaments. The first to come to mind is the A,B,C,D tournament that replaced the old Duleep trophy format.
Sometimes they play it in some colour format of blue, green, etc. Nobody cares who won or lost this tournament. It simply increases wear and tear on grounds, costs plenty of money and consumes valuable dates in the season.
Even the Irani Trophy must go. It was necessary in the past as there were not enough matches for promising first class players. Not any longer.
Maybe the AGM, with all units present, should have discussed ways and means to introduce pink ball cricket at least into knock-out matches of Ranji Trophy, if indeed pink ball is the way forward for Test cricket.
These cricketing issues could have been dealt with in the AGM. But the entire focus was on building consensus for amendments subject to SC approval. Of course there was also real danger in concentrating all powers in the president and secretary. But that's another story.
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