Don’t demonise BCCI: New administrators can make ICC a body capable of changing cricket

After months of delays and postponements, the Lodha Committee has shown its teeth. Anurag Thakur, the BCCI president, has been stripped of his powers after being accused of perjuring himself to the committee in a sworn affidavit.

Thakur claimed that he had not asked the ICC to categorise the Lodha Committees machinations as governmental interference. If the committee was considered to be the government trying to influence the BCCI, that would be against the ICC’s code, and if the board then accepted the Supreme Court’s judgment, they would thrown out of the world governing body.

File photo of Anurag Thakur and Justice Lodha.

File photo of Anurag Thakur and Justice Lodha.

The thing is, Thakur did ask the ICC to say that the Lodha Committee was governmental interference. That could be considered as lying under oath and it could see Thakur sent to prison. What is certain is that his time as the man running the BCCI is over, the Supreme Court has made sure of that with Monday’s announcement.

The BCCI have been embattled with court proceedings for more than three years, ever since the fallout of the 2013 IPL betting scandal that involved team officials of both the Rajasthan Royals and the Chennai Super Kings. Gurunath Meiyappen, the CSK Team Principal, and Raj Kundra of the Royals were the men that were found to be gambling on IPL games.

Both of those teams are currently suspended from the IPL, the former BCCI president and owner of the Super Kings, N Srinivasan, has been removed from his post at the BCCI and the ICC. Now Thakur and BCCI secretary BCCI Ajay Shirke have been ousted as well. All of this stems from the BCCI’s botched handling of that betting scandal in 2013.

The days of the BCCI acting as it sees fit are over, and it is of their own making. They had the chance to get their own house in order when they investigated those allegations of illegal betting by team officials. When the in-house investigation into those allegations returned a “clean chit” to those involved, it set these events into motion.

Kirti Azad, former Test player and current Member of Parliament, wrote in DNA that this previous success in getting a committee to bend to their will made them feel they could do the same with Lodha.

“BCCI was emboldened by the previous BCCI president obtaining a clean chit from a two-retired High Court judges’ panel, which had conducted a seemingly friendly probe in Gurunath Meiyappen’s conflict of interest case.”  

But Lodha was not for turning, and while some of the recommendations that his committee wanted in their judgement from 18 July were stringent to say the least, the BCCI had lost all of its bargaining chips over the last three years. By digging in their heels, even if some of their reservations about the committee’s requirements were justified, it was inevitable that significant change would happen and that heads with roll.

Now that it has, it will be interesting to see how it impacts Indian cricket and the sport worldwide. The 'Big Three' takeover of the ICC in January 2014 did not come into full force with Srinivasan, the ECB’s Giles Clarke and Cricket Australia’s Wally Edwards all having left their posts. Shashank Manohar replaced Srinivasan as BCCI President and then as ICC Chairman, and he has looked at cricket from a global standpoint rather than looking to favour particular boards.

This has upset Thakur. Back in September, Thakur had told a press conference that he felt Manohar was working against the interests of Indian cricket. Thakur said in that press conference that the “BCCI being the global leader, we look after global issues as well.”

Here is the issue. Thakur’s time in charge of the BCCI has seen the organisation look out for its own interests rather than the good of the game. The BCCI feels that the ICC is working against them, and they have threatened to pull out of next year’s Champions Trophy in England over the budget that was allocated to the event being far larger than the one it was given for the World T20 earlier this year. It could be that many of their complaints are entirely justified, but by threatening boycotts and unilateral action they are doing the sport and themselves no favours.

“The problem with the ICC now is that it is acting like a dictator. Apart from the Big Three model that the ICC now wants to change, it is slowly trying to keep the BCCI at bay,” an unnamed BCCI source had told The Indian Express.

The BCCI needs to see that the ICC making decisions that aren’t benefiting them directly, can be good for them in the long term. A stronger global game that has a larger footprint and more competitive teams only helps them, not hinders them. The Big Three boards of India, England and Australia need to look at the bigger picture – something they have failed to do for almost as long as the ICC has existed.

The global administration of cricket is still a muddle or self-interest and short-termism. All too often the powerful full-member boards act in a way that increases their own standing and damages the sport as a whole. The BCCI is the most powerful of the boards, while others are responsible for the failings of the ICC as the most powerful player, they can be a force for change. If the BCCI wills, it they can turn the ICC into a truly independent governing body that can run cricket for the good of cricket.

They will need other boards to come along with them, and it is hugely important not to demonise the BCCI. The new administrators that will be appointed by the Supreme Court can make that happen. Change is needed if cricket is to become a truly global sport, and the BCCI is the most capable to make it happen.

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Updated Date: Jan 03, 2017 10:54:53 IST

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