IT’S NOT GO­ING TO BE EASY

The Supreme Court-ap­pointed ad­min­is­tra­tors are go­ing to face tough chal­lenges in their bid to cleanse the cricket board

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Bo­ria Majumdar

As the dust fi­nally set­tles on the SC direc­tion ap­point­ing Vinod Rai, Ram Guha, Diana Edulji andVikramLi­mayeas­in­terim ad­min­is­tra­tor­soft­heBCCI,itis es­sen­tial we turn our at­ten­tion to the chal­lenges they are likely to face. What is the pri­mary task at hand? Clearly it will be to im­ple­ment the Lodha re­forms in to­tal­ity. And if the buzz within the BCCI is any­thing to go by, the ad­min­is­tra­tors will have to do so forcibly. Ousted of­fice bearers and men who now stand dis­qual­i­fied will do ev­ery­thing to put a span­ner in the wheels. With Amitabh Choud­hary and Anirudh Chaud­hary from among the old guard still around, the ad­min­is­tra­tors will not have it easy. In a con­fer­ence call on Sun­day con­vened by Amitabh Choud­hary, which in­ter­est­ingly was also at­tended by ousted and dis­qual­i­fied of­fice bearers (that it was a con­tempt of court is a different mat­ter), it was de­cided that the BCCI would nom­i­nate Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke as rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the ICC. It was also de­cided to put for­ward the name of N Srini­vasan, but he later on de­clined an­tic­i­pat­ing a back­lash. This is ev­i­dence that the BCCI, still, is not in­clined to im­ple­ment the re­forms. Thereis­con­tin­u­ou­sand­con­tin­u­in­gre­sis­tance and that’s not some­thing the in­terim ad­min­is­tra­tors will find easy to deal with.

The sec­ond most im­por­tant chal­lenge is to en­sure that the IPL, In­dia’s sig­na­ture cricket tour­na­ment, is held on sched­ule. Noth­ing in terms of plan­ning has hap­pened yet and the fran­chise own­ers are yet to be no­ti­fied about the auc­tion date. The auc­tion, which was ini­tially planned for 4 Fe­bru­ary, had to be resched­uled and it is now likely that it will be held to­wards the end of the month. Not a sin­gle IPL con­tract has been awarded and a tour­na­ment of this scale re­quires months of plan­ning, which the ad­min­is­tra­tors will now have to do on a war foot­ing.

Given Rai’s ex­pe­ri­ence and given he will be as­sisted by Rahul Johri and his team, it is not be­yond them. But as I have said al­ready it will not be easy. State As­so­ci­a­tions are still con­trolled by the old guard – ev­i­dent from their AFP choice of rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the ICC, and there will be se­ri­ous re­luc­tance to fol­low­ing di­rec­tives re­lated to the smooth con­duct of the IPL.

Johri,aman­who­has­con­duct­ed­him­selfwith much dig­nity and grace in the last few weeks, will have to take up the bulk of the re­spon­si­bil­ity. None of the ad­min­is­tra­tors have any ex­pe­ri­ence of run­ning a cricket body and it will be on Johri to hand hold and ini­ti­ate them in the ini­tial few months and weeks.

While do­ing so he will also have to move on with the IPL ten­der process, which is ex­pected to fetch the BCCI a cou­ple of bil­lion dol­lars at least. And this, it can be said, will be a defin­ing mo­ment in In­dian cricket. If the ten­der process goes through smoothly and if the BCCI is able to gen­er­ate se­ri­ous monies as is ex­pected, the game will have come out tri­umphant and freed of the clutches of the old guard. It doesn’t re­quire a Srini­vasan or a Thakur or a Shirke to gen­er­ate money. The IPL brand is ro­bust enough for com­pa­nies to agree to pay the pre­mium dol­lar. It will also send out a very strong sig­nal that in­di­vid­u­als will come and go but the game will go on with­out any dis­tur­bance.

The ad­min­is­tra­tors will also have to clar­ify a num­ber of key ques­tions. With the SC stat­ing that the to­tal ten­ure for an ad­min­is­tra­tor is 9+9 years and not the 9 as was stated in the Jan­uary 3 or­der, ques­tions arise over the nature of the cool­ing off pe­riod as well. Can an ad­min­is­tra­tor move on to the BCCI af­ter he has served his state for a 3 year term? If he gives up his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in the state as­so­ci­a­tion(while­takingover­man­age­ri­al­re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in the BCCI) will that be deemed as a coolin­goff­pe­ri­odinthes­tate­as­so­ci­a­tion?Can Anirudh Chaud­hary, who is al­ready 3 years and 3 months into his role, con­tinue or will cool­ing-off be im­posed im­me­di­ately?

Fi­nally and most im­por­tantly, how long will the in­terim body take to im­ple­ment the re­forms? They are ‘in­terim’ ad­min­is­tra­tors and can­not be in their po­si­tions for ever. But how quickly can the re­forms process be com­pleted? It is es­sen­tial In­dia sends a full-time elected per­son to the ICC an­nual meet­ing in June for many key gov­er­nance de­ci­sions are likely to be taken there and an in­terim per­son will find it im­pos­si­ble to deal with the sit­u­a­tion.

On the field of play, In­dia has rarely has it as good as it is now un­der Vi­rat Kohli and Anil Kum­ble. The team is play­ing su­perbly and we are firmly perched at the top of the ICC Test stand­ings. But off the field, the tu­mult con­tin­ues. And will for a time with the ad­min­is­tra­tors try­ing to find their feet. But with each of the ad­min­is­tra­tors hav­ing a proven track record in their field and with Johri and his team there to help, there is hope that the cleans­ing is fi­nally go­ing to be un­der­way.

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