In­dia Test threat lifted af­ter funds re­leased

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

In­dia’s cash-rich cricket board yes­ter­day lifted a threat to can­cel the start of its Test se­ries against Eng­land af­ter judges eased bank­ing re­stric­tions which had trig­gered a fund­ing cri­sis.

Less than 24 hours be­fore the high-pro­file se­ries was due to be­gin in Ra­jkot, the cash-rich board dropped a bomb­shell by telling the Supreme Court it would not be able to cover the run­ning costs of the first match. The Supreme Court last month ruled that the board would have to seek prior ap­proval from a spe­cial panel in­ves­ti­gat­ing its gov­er­nance in or­der to re­lease funds to state as­so­ci­a­tions which host Test matches.

In a pe­ti­tion filed on Tues­day to the court, the Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia (BCCI) said that “un­less money is dis­bursed to the board, the match be­tween In­dia and Eng­land can’t take place”.

Af­ter con­sid­er­ing the pe­ti­tion for sev­eral hours, the court set aside its pre­vi­ous or­der and gave the board im­me­di­ate ac­cess to the $90,000 (5.8 mil­lion ru­pees) the BCCI said it needed to host the match in Ra­jkot.

It fur­ther al­lowed the board to in­cur ex­penses for host­ing the re­main­ing four Tests in the se­ries against Eng­land but asked it to main­tain ac­counts for scru­tiny by the panel.

“We are fine with the supreme court or­der be­cause we wanted money for or­gan­is­ing the In­dia-Eng­land test se­ries and that has been al­lowed,” a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the board told AFP on con­di­tion of anonymity.

The court had slapped the re­stric­tions on the BCCI’s ac­counts af­ter the board, which is one of the world’s wealth­i­est sports bod­ies, failed to im­ple­ment a se­ries of re­forms rec­om­mended by a panel headed by a former top judge, Ra­jen­dra Mal Lodha. The Lodha panel has ac­cused BCCI of­fi­cials of “be­hav­ing like lords” af­ter they re­peat­edly ig­nored the dead­lines to im­ple­ment re­forms of what is world cricket’s wealth­i­est and most pow­er­ful board.

In its sub­mis­sion chal­leng­ing Tues­day’s pe­ti­tion, the panel said the BCCI was in con­tempt of court by not im­ple­ment­ing its rec­om­men­da­tions, which in­clude age lim­its for of­fice-hold­ers.

The BCCI had ear­lier com­plained that the fund­ing freeze was ham­per­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion for a se­ries last month against New Zealand, but the three Tests went ahead as sched­uled in the end.

The BCCI has in­sisted it is not “run­ning away” from im­ple­ment­ing the re­forms af­ter scan­dals in­clud­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of cor­rup­tion and match-fix­ing that tar­nished the In­dian Pre­mier League (IPL).

Cricket’s mas­sive pop­u­lar­ity in In­dia has helped the BCCI be­come by far the wealth­i­est of all of cricket’s na­tional boards, net­ting mas­sive money from spon­sor­ship and TV deals.

The BCCI has put the value of the IPL brand at $4.5 bil­lion and its cur­rent spon­sor­ship deal for the tour­na­ment with the mo­bile phone com­pany Vivo is worth $60 mil­lion dol­lars. Its last tele­vi­sion rights deal with the Star net­work was worth a re­ported $750 mil­lion.

But de­spite its rude fi­nan­cial health, the board has reg­u­larly found it­self em­broiled in scan­dal in re­cent years, ul­ti­mately lead­ing to the for­ma­tion of the Lodha com­mit­tee. A cor­rup­tion and match-fix­ing scan­dal in the sixth edi­tion of the IPL in 2013 brought about the down­fall of the board’s pres­i­dent Narayanaswami Srini­vasan af­ter his son-in-law was ac­cused of bet­ting on matches.

Two of the eight fran­chises in the IPL were sus­pended as a re­sult of the scan­dal, in­clud­ing the Chen­nai Su­per Kings which was owned by Srini­vasan’s In­dia Ce­ments com­pany. —AFP

RA­JKOT: In­dia’s cricket coach Anil Kum­ble (L) in­spects the pitch with cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli and Ravichan­dran Ashwin (R) dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion at the Saurash­tra cricket As­so­ci­a­tion sta­dium in Ra­jkot on the eve of the first test match against Eng­land yes­ter­day. — AFP

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