SRINIVASAN’S BIG GAME

The all-pow­er­ful BCCI pres­i­dent will now run world cricket. That’s not good news for those who want a clean-up of the sport.

India Today - - SPORT - By Ed Hawkins Ed Hawkins is an English jour­nal­ist and au­thor of Bookie Gam­bler Fixer Spy

THAT BCCI HAS BEEN SHOWN TO BE COR­RUPT MEANS CRICKET TEETERS ON THE EDGE OFABYSS.

Good gov­er­nance is not the most in­spir­ing of terms when it comes to sport. It doesn’t get back­sides off bucket seats or rouse a roar from the craw. Bad gov­er­nance is quite the op­po­site. It can in­fect the faith­ful with ap­a­thy, leav­ing once click­ing turn­stiles to rust in rigid­ity. The aver­age fan ac­cepts that ad­min­is­tra­tors will en­joy the posh­est and plush­est seats for piv­otal games. In re­turn, the least he ex­pects is that his beloved sport will be run with an ethos that has placed at its heart dig­nity, trans­parency and sound busi­ness prac­tice. In BCCI, these seem to have been re­placed by to­tal­i­tar­i­an­ism, crony­ism and in­tim­i­da­tion. In­ter­nal BCCI emails seen by this writer pro­vide a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight into its work­ing and paint a bleak fu­ture not only for In­dian cricket but the world game now stalked by N. Srinivasan. The BCCI pres­i­dent, de­spite be­ing mired in con­tro­versy, was named as the next ICC chief on Fe­bru­ary 8. He will take over as chair­man in July.

If BCCI sneezes, world cricket catches a cold. The snif­fles may have just be­gun. IPL is los­ing money and Jus­tice Mukul Mud­gal’s re­port has ex­posed a link be­tween the sup­posed guardian of the game and il­le­gal gam­bling, the men­ace that en­cour­ages the scourge of match-fix­ing. Srinivasan is sup­posed to be whiter than white; his priv­i­leged po­si­tion de­mands it. Yet his son-in-law, Gu­runath Meiyya­pan, has been ac­cused of bet­ting on matches in­volv­ing the that team he man­aged, the Chen­nai Su­per Kings. The IPL team, of course, is owned by Srinivasan. Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni, the Su­per Kings and Team In­dia cap­tain and a vice-pres­i­dent of In­dia Ce­ments, a Srinivasan firm, was also em­broiled in the scan­dal when he was named in a po­lice re­port for hav­ing agreed that Chen­nai would score 130-140 runs in an IPL match against Ra­jasthan Roy­als. They scored 141 and lost the match.

Or­di­nar­ily, the world would sigh and reckon this was an­other ex­am­ple of In­dia’s fee­ble bet­ting laws and ‘favour cul­ture’ sul­ly­ing cricket’s good name. But they are sit­ting up, wary be­cause Srinivasan ef­fec­tively runs the game af­ter hav­ing carved up ICC for con­sump­tion in a power grab with the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board ( ECB) and Cricket Aus­tralia ( CA). The poor will get poorer and the rich are sup­posed to get richer in the re­vamped ICC. What of its gov­er­nance? All de­ci­sions will be taken by BCCI, ECB and CA and the rest will fall in line. That BCCI has been shown to be cor­rupt means cricket, from Colombo to the Caribbean, Lord’s to La­hore, teeters on the edge of abyss. From these emails and mis­sives, it is pos­si­ble to go in­side BCCI and see how dark that void could be. They sug­gest an all-pow­er­ful Srinivasan; they be­tray a lack of rigid struc­ture that suc­cess­ful or­gan­i­sa­tions are founded on.

In a let­ter dated May 8, 2013 to Alan Isaac, pres­i­dent of ICC, Srinivasan de­liv­ers a thinly-veiled threat for lack of sup­port in the row over the elec­tion of L. Si­vara­makr­ish­nan, said to be an In­dia Ce­ments em­ployee, as play­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive to ICC Cricket Com­mit­tee at the ex­pense of Fed­er­a­tion of In­ter­na­tional Crick­eters As­so­ci­a­tion head Tim May. “I do not re­ally mind if ICC man­age­ment wishes to re­main silent if they are sym­pa­thetic to the FICA me­dia cam­paign,” Srinivasan writes. “How­ever, we’ll truly treat this as a defin­ing mo­ment in the re­la­tion­ship we have with ICC man­age­ment. We’re not go­ing to let this bla­tantly un­fair at­tack of FICA with ICC a silent spec­ta­tor go with­out a re­sponse in

due course.” FICA had sought an in­quiry into the vote and claimed that cap­tains from Pak­istan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zim­babwe had been told to choose Si­vara­makr­ish­nan in a re-vote af­ter May had been re­turned. It was al­leged BCCI had used its fi­nan­cial power to co­erce the boards into voting its way. This puts into con­text an email ex­change be­tween Dhoni and Ge­off Al­lardice of ICC with the for­mer irked that he has to vote again. “It’s L. Shivara­makr­ish­nan (sic) but how is it that from the pre­vi­ous mail Sanga’s (Sri Lankan crick­eter Ku­mar San­gakkara, an­other con­tender for the job) name gets picked but Shiva’s doesn’t.” Since Dhoni is close to Srinivasan, it is pos­si­ble he was fol­low­ing or­ders.

If this ex­em­pli­fies Srinivasan flex­ing his mus­cles, then two emails from April 2013 show an ap­par­ent dis­re­spect for the pro­to­col of his own or­gan­i­sa­tion. On April 15, Peter Grif­fiths of IMG, which helps run IPL, wrote to BCCI sec­re­tary San­jay Jagdale to ap­point a com­mis­sion to hear a com­plaint un­der IPL 2013 op­er­a­tional rules. The rules man­date BCCI sec­re­tary to pick the mem­bers. But five days later, he got this email from Tamil Nadu Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion se­cre- tary Kasi Viswanathan: “I am re­pro­duc­ing the mes­sage writ­ten by the Pres­i­dent to you: ‘San­jay, Ra­jiv Shukla, Ajay Shirke and Ravi Shas­tri may hear the com­plaint. N Srinivasan’.” Jagdale and Shirke quit on May 31 to protest the board’s han­dling of the scan­dal. Now Jagdale says he had “no prob­lem” with the way BCCI was run.

In an­other sidestep­ping of hi­er­ar­chy, Prasanna Kan­nan, IPL chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer who is re­ported to be an em­ployee of In­dia Ce­ments, in­forms Jagdale of the ap­point­ments for home se­ries against Eng­land, Pak­istan only on April 4, 2013, long af­ter these had been held in late 2012 and early 2013. It is ir­reg­u­lar that the sec­re­tary would not have made the ap­point­ments him­self and it raises the ques­tion as to what ex­actly did this have to do with an IPL of­fi­cial. Kan­nan, it begs men­tion, as­sisted Srinivasan in his ‘co-oper­a­tion’ with the Mud­gal panel.

The spot-fix­ing scan­dal and mount­ing ev­i­dence of BCCI’s dis­re­gard for what is proper has turned fans away from IPL. Since the first edi­tion in 2008, its TV rat­ing has dropped from 4.8 per cent to 2.9 per cent. “About $1 bil­lion worth of IPL’s brand value has been de­stroyed by such con­tro­ver­sies and lack of gov­er­nance,” says Unni Kr­ish­nan, a global strat­egy di­rec­tor at Lon­don-based brand val­u­a­tion con­sul­tancy Brand Fi­nance.

This is wor­ry­ing for world cricket now that its purse strings are held by BCCI and Srinivasan, as de­tailed in the re­vamp pro­posal, Fi­nal Po­si­tion Paper, drafted by Srinivasan’s sec­re­tary, which will en­sure ev­ery mem­ber bar Eng­land, Aus­tralia and In­dia is worse off. “Srini knew he could con­trol ev­ery­thing. He says Ha­roon Lorgat should not be run­ning South Africa’s board and Lorgat is sus­pended. He says DRS is not ac­cept­able, so it isn’t. He runs ICC,” says I.S. Bin­dra, the vet­eran ad­min­is­tra­tor who has served both BCCI and ICC. “In my time, Jag­mo­han Dalmiya was the god­fa­ther. Srini wanted to fol­low him in spirit. But Srini is more dan­ger­ous be­cause he has more re­sources. He told me he wanted to be the next Dalmiya.” That doesn’t bode well for cricket.

BCCI CHIEF N. SRINIVASAN

AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.