There is an air of expectancy around the Supreme Court’s pronouncement on the BCCI’s draft constitution, scheduled for Thursday.
The SC-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) would hope to be given total control of running the BCCI before the constitution is in place and elections are held. The Board members, on the other hand, would hope that there would be relief on some of the issues pertaining to the Lodha panel report.
The SC bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud had earlier asked BCCI and its units to submit suggestions on Lodha reforms through the Amicus Curiae.
The Lodha reforms were accepted by the court in 2016, with BCCI and Amicus Curiae expected to give inputs for the draft constitution. The BCCI believes its grievances regarding age limit of 70, one state-one-vote and cooling off period for office-bearers are genuine and need another look. It also believes that granting of full-member status to the North-East states and their participation in BCCI first-class cricket ought to be gradual.
The BCCI believes that although the North-East states ought to be integrated with the Board, a lack of cricket culture in these areas needs to be addressed before they are gradually mainstreamed.
These points have struck a jarring note ever since Lodha panel reforms were announced. The SC obviously saw some merit in BCCI’s arguments, else the issue would not have dragged on for this long.
Meanwhile, there is a growing feeling that the impasse between BCCI and CoA has considerably weakened the Board in its dealings with ICC and other member states.
It took a hit of over $200 million when the 'Big Three' concept initiated by it was thrown out through the machinations of the ICC. A clueless CoA didn’t have the gumption or ability to indulge in brinkmanship ahead of the Champions Trophy, and caved in meekly.
It is inconceivable that N Srinivasan or Sharad Pawar or the late Jagmohan Dalmiya would have packed up so easily and allowed the ICC to ride rough shod over the BCCI. Nor would other countries have so brazenly ganged up against India.
Likewise, there is a genuine fear that the World Test Championship is being pushed through when BCCI is not being represented by strongmen.
Strangely, the CoA, in its latest status statement to the court, is reported to have said that members of BCCI have hindered the functioning of the committee. This seems to be its excuse for not performing with expected efficiency.
Surely, if the CoA has not been able to run BCCI satisfactorily these past 18 months despite SC’s backing, there is no guarantee they would be able to do so if given another 18 months.
Vinod Rai who, after being made chief of CoA, had stated that his job with the BCCI would be completed by October 2017, was probably ignorant of the magnitude of his task. In the meantime, his four-member team has whittled down to two, and he in turn has crossed 70 years of age.
Many expected him to uphold the sanctity of Lodha reforms — which put a 70-year age bar on BCCI officials — and quit as soon as he turned 70. He did nothing of that sort and has instead left it to the Court to decide on the matter. This too has vexed BCCI members, who believe that there cannot be two yardsticks for the same rule.
These apart, it is pretty obvious that administration of Indian cricket has taken a beating over the past couple of years. It is no secret that India, which provides maximum revenue to international cricket, has been marginalised to the extent that the BCCI has little say in ICC matters. This will affect Indian cricket.
At the grassroots level, state associations are starved for infrastructure funds and this too will severely impact the development of the game. The National Cricket Academy needs urgent looking into of its functioning, and it would be a major blow if it is allowed to rot.
Considering these, cricket aficionados would be keenly following the court’s diktat, expected on Thursday.
Indian cricket can do well on an international scale only if its home base is solid and run well. Unfortunately that is not the case right now. Fortunately, momentum is working to the national teams' advantage.
An early conclusion to the case would be a big boost.
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