The flicker of the dying embers. The action of the Committee of Administrators (CoA), appointed by the Supreme Court to ensure that the Board of Control for Cricket in India would implement the Lodha Committee reforms, in deflecting criticism of the manner in which women’s cricket team coach Tushar Arothe quit his post comes across as just that.
With barely a few weeks left for BCCI to make the constitutional changes to the satisfaction of the apex court, it can be expected that the CoA is staring at an end of its tenure. Instead of focussing on the key job assigned by the Supreme Court, CoA continues to pay attention to areas that were never intended to be its focus.
Yet, for the CoA to explain the departure of Tushar Arothe as coach the Indian women’s cricket team with an example from the past – and a wrong one at that – is an abysmal attempt at cover up of the role played by a member of the CoA in the whole episode. For anyone to suggest, let alone blame, only the players as being responsible for engineering a coach’s exit defies logic.
Vinod Rai’s acceptance of player revolts against coaches is downright casual and an advertisement for the cricket administrators’ inability to keep things to themselves. Even if Sourav Ganguly and some others in the dressing room then have presented their sides of the story, there are certain things that no cricket administrator speaks on record.
Yet, for CoA to suggest that player revolt against coaches has been going on since Ganguly and Greg Chappell is in conflict with history. Thus far, it was believed that the former Indian captain lost his place in the team due to his spat with Chappell and, if anything, other players engineered Chappell’s exit. The CoA chairman is intent on giving his own tweak to recent history.
Come to think of it, it was players’ unity – vision as some will point out – that led to Kapil Dev’s ouster as coach of the Indian team and for New Zealander John Wright to come in as the side’s first overseas coach. There was a mutiny – almost muted – against the first cricket manager Bishan Singh Bedi and later against coach S Madan Lal as well.
Having got that historical oddity out of the way, it is clear that Vinod Rai offered poor defence for the CoA’s sustained interest in matters cricket by saying that there is a precedent of Board taking note of players’ revolt against the incumbent coach. Just because it has happened before, should it become the norm?
In any case, it leads us to the question if the CoA should get involved in domain that is not really its. After all, the Supreme Court appointed the CoA to clean up administration within BCCI and its State units. This is one more instance of the CoA digressing its focus from the key task it was assigned to perform and has failed to execute with any conviction.
Yet, amidst all this, there has been not a whisper about the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), comprising Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman? Does that panel continue to exist? Or has the CoA usurped its powers too after the trio conceded ground to Virat Kohli and let Anil Kumble make room for Ravi Shastri as chief coach a year ago?
All decisions concerning appointment of coaching and support staff of any of the Indian teams should be made by such panel of eminent former cricketers and not on the whims of the CoA or employees of the Board. At least not until the Board, as we know it and even as the Supreme Court envisages it, grants such power to an employee.
When Wright was brought in as coach – at the behest of players like Rahul Dravid, Ganguly, Tendulkar, Kumble and Javagal Srinath – former cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri were part of the decision-making process. The then Board boss, AC Muthiah’s way of functioning was such that former players were left in charge of the key appointments.
S Venkataraghavan was added to the pair of former cricketers in a panel that approved the appointment of Greg Chappell in May 2005. The three former cricketers remained part of the committee that heard Chappell and Ganguly when their ugly spat became public, thanks to a leaked e-mail. Every time a decision had to be made, respected former cricketers were consulted.
The Cricket Advisory Committee has remained dormant after naming Ravi Shastri as the coach of the men’s team. It would be fair to expect men of stature to speak up against unilateral decisions by administrators. Its members appear to have made precious little attempt to come together and take ownership of the decision-making process that affects the country’s cricket teams.
Had CoA or the BCCI’s elected officials, with wings clipped for the time being, taken the CAC route to explaining Arothe’s exit, it would have made a lot of sense. But then Indian cricket administration has been devoid of much logic in the chaotic past couple of months. And it came as little surprise that no attempt has been made to revive CAC and invest faith in its decision.
It would only be fair to say that it would benefit Indian cricket if, in the twilight of its fairly ineffective existence, CoA stays away from the glare of the media and does seeks to accomplish what it was appointed for.
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