Poor timing apart, Guha's bombshell reveals even CoA can't handle BCCI rot
G Rajaraman | Updated on: 3 June 2017, 0:32 IST
The bombshell which Ramachandra Guha dropped, a day after quitting the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) to oversee the transformation of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), can have a far-reaching effect.
His letter to CoA chairman Vinod Rai confirms the suspicion that it has done precious little to usher in reforms in the BCCI portals.
It is a good guess that he has left a lot unsaid – the formation of the Players' Association, for instance – but his seven-page missive to Rai reveals how deep-set the rot in Indian cricket is.
From the looks of it, the task of cleaning up the BCCI is apparently tougher than any of the 12 labours of Hercules. But, the CoA’s inability to drive towards the main goal and its distractions in lesser issues have led to inertia.
Conflict of interest
There is no doubt that conflict of interest has been one of the biggest reasons for the Supreme Court to order transformation in the Board.
As Guha points out in the letter, it remains the bugbear of cricket in the country.
He named Sunil Gavaskar as one such individal, and though he did not mention Rahul Dravid or Sourav Ganguly by name, there are no prizes for guessing their names.
The largest issue raised in the letter is not so much the conflict of interest, which permeates the system, and perhaps corrodes it. It is the silence and inactivity of the CoA over disqualified office-bearers of state associations violating the Supreme Court judgement. Finally, someone has spoken up without beating around the bush.
State units issue
One of CoA’s most important tasks is the improvement in the governance structure of the BCCI and its state units. From a distance, it does appear that the CoA has done little to set things in order.
Instead of focusing on getting the state units to comply with the Lodha Committee recommendations, which were approved by the Supreme Court, CoA trained its guns elsewhere.
Should the CoA have been wetting its feet in administrative and cricketing issues? Certainly not, especially since it was draining into its energy and time. Things like the change of the women’s team coach or the drama over the men’s coach should easily have been left to the administrative set up within BCCI.
The CoA, armed with strength afforded by the Supreme Court, should have gone to each state association and given it firm deadlines for implementation. It appears as if the CoA could be unaware of who the members of each association are, especially in states where the cricket is run by units registered under the Companies Act.
Take, for instance, the Delhi and District Cricket Association. Its woes, caused by proxy voting have been well-documented, and fans heaved a sigh of relief when the Lodha Committee recommended that proxies be abolished. Thus far, no steps have been taken to ensure that the next election to DDCA Executive Committee is free of this malaise.
The other damning note is the reference to the decision to change the BCCI counsel from a capable, non-political figure to a party politician. Ram Guha alleges that not all members of the CoA were consulted before the change was made. This suggests that the style of functioning within BCCI, no matter if it run by career cricket administrators or CoA, has not quite changed.
Questions being asked about the timing of Guha's resignation and the leaking of his letter to the CoA chairman.
Indeed, with an India-Pakistan game round the corner, the timing is quite poor. But then, as irony would have it, in a game where timing is key, the whole fracas has been about poor timing.
Yet, the Board’s decision to advertise for the Head Coach’s post a day after the Indian team left for England and the apparent leak of a Virat Kohli message to a Board official have all been about poor timing.
A bunch of firefighters - officials ranging from acting secretary Amitabh Choudhury to BCCI General Manager MV Sridhar to CoA chairman Rai - descending on Birmingham, ostensibly to settle things between Kumble and Kohli with conversations, is the epitome of poor timing. It was necessary for someone to take such drastic action and draw attention to CoA’s inertia.
Quick action needed
It is imperative that the cleansing process set in motion by the Supreme Court resumes post haste. The CoA needs to remove the distractions that have allowed its focus to shift from the crucial aspects of the Lodha Committee recommendations. The sooner it buckles down to the task of cleaning up the state associations, the better it will be.
First, the Lodha Committee was unable to implement the reforms that it had itself suggested. Now, the CoA has come up short as well.
Unless the Supreme Court takes up the task itself – and we know it has more pressing issues to deal with than the BCCI – or the officials in each state voluntarily embrace the Lodha Committee recommendations, things will remain the same.
Guha’s resignation must be seen not as a protest or even as his leaving the battlefield before even a shot was fired, but as a reminder that resistance to change can be powerful and singe those tasked with the duty of ringing in change.
While career cricket administrators must be grinning at the developments, the Supreme Court will have to step in to ensure that its orders are followed.