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BCCI vs Lodha panel: Absence of feasible backup plan to run cricket in India is shocking

The shock and awe are not because of the Supreme Court summarily dismissing key office-bearers from Indian cricket’s administrative set-up. It is over the apparent lack of a feasible takeover plan in the aftermath of ‘the day after’ that has instantly reduced much of BCCI’s affiliated units to resemble the wastelands of a nuclear winter.

Cricket is too big a sport in India. It is many things to many people: sport, business, livelihood, profession, entertainment, aspiration and everything else that one can think of. Thus, any attempt to ‘set it right’ should have included a ready-made structure to instantly replace the old order. Instead, this sudden swoop without a safety net or a feasible plan in place is difficult to digest.

File photo of the Lodha Committee. Image Credit: Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

File photo of the Lodha Committee. Image Credit: Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

Tuesday’s modification to the original order – [25 (i) : “All the office bearers of BCCI and of its affiliated State Associations who fail to meet the norms recommended by the Committee and accepted by this Court, shall forthwith demit and cease to hold office…” with Order, clause 25 (i) (f) whereof shall now stand modified/corrected to read as under: “25 (i) (f) Has been an Office Bearer of the BCCI or a State Association for a cumulative period of nine years.”] – has wiped out almost all the experienced hands in cricket administration.

The fact that the ODI and T20I series against England is scheduled to start in 10 days time will subject a number of inexperienced and yet to be identified office-bearers to a trial by fire. This includes not just the BCCI office-bearers, but more crucially the ones guiding the various state units hosting the matches.

Anyone believing this would be a piece of cake has to be reminded of the World Cup hosting woes of an inexperienced KSCA team in 2011. They ran into issues with police, tickets, legislators, garbage disposal, etc, to the extent that the State Assembly was sized of the matter.

Other units manned by inexperienced personnel would face similar issues in the coming days, particularly in centres staging the ODIs and T20Is. The resultant chaos can well be imagined.

Here, a mention must be made of BCCI’s smartness in tackling various factors, particularly during IPL. They directed the franchises controlling the venue to hand over 15 percent of the tickets in each stadium to the respective state association. The latter was expected to smoothen the conduct of the game by providing tickets or passes to excise, sales tax, police, ministers, MLAs, MPs, media, electricity board, water, sewage, corporation, etc. Obviously a Preity Zinta or Shah Rukh Khan was not expected to know the rigmarole, and thus the state association stepped in to sort out various issues with local authorities. These ensured that IPL matches went off smoothly most of the time.

But now, with even the state associations left in the hands of inexperienced administrators, the immediate problems could be immense. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the new set of office-bearers would struggle to meet the challenges.

Of course the Lodha panel had envisaged it differently: a scenario where a professional set up would handle all issues – cricketing, finance, marketing, logistics, infrastructure, strategising, etc. This professional set-up was expected to be locally available in every state and they would run the game while office-bearers would sit back and govern it.

The office-bearers of the Apex Council would be just nine in number. Three of them would be the CEO, representative of the players association, and the representative of the Accountant General. The other six would hold office for three years and then cool off for the next three.

Whether the en masse changes in the board would result in the blind leading the blind in the initial three years remains to be seen. But certainly after gaining three years of experience, the office-bearer can cool off with it and make way for another ‘fresher’.

Meanwhile, the CEO with his administrative team and outsourcing skills will run the game and all that it encompasses, all over the country. At the unit level, the state association’s CEO will do a similar job of running academies, tournaments, scheduling, grounds, contracts, revenue generation, expenditure, etc.

While the bigger cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai could get CEOs to run the game with an acceptable level of competence, states with a feudal outlook could struggle to retain top notch professional CEOs. The game could implode in some of these areas.

The simple fact is that no aspect of Indian business or life is run professionally. Now to suddenly expect cricket to be the flag bearer for professionalism is downright unrealistic.

The new Apex Council will have many challenges in the coming days. The ODIs and T20Is against England are the immediate ones. The bigger ones would be the IPL contracts and conduct. At this stage, future series, domestic cricket, ICC, NCA, age group promotion, and development of the game are distant issues. The only hope here is that this would be one more crisis we’d have stumbled into, survived and lived to tell the tale!

Updated Date: Jan 04, 2017 11:00 AM

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