The Supreme Court of India has at last made up its mind on who will steer the reforms it had earlier outlined for putting things in order in cricket administration. However critical one might be of the Court intervention in the game, one cannot pick holes in the choice of personalities who will form part of the Committee of Administrators (COA) that will oversee the way the Board conducts its affairs until a regular arrangement comes in place after elections are held on the lines suggested by the apex court.
If the Court accent was solely on integrity, the three men and one woman picked up from a vast pool of talent, have an enviable track record. This is as it should be, because the reform was set in motion against reports of large scale irregularities and downright corruption in day-to-day matters involving petty cricket managers, mainly in the States. One COA member — Diana Edulji — played for the country and brings an amount of knowledge that would stand the COA in good stead.
One may look down upon women’s cricket because of poor popular support. You must, however, remember that woman cricketers are no less professional and dedicated than their men counterparts. It is also true that women’s cricket is no less plagued by nepotism in doling out favours. Edulji’s presence will bring the much-needed leavening effect on the game.
I am, however, intrigued by the absence of a male cricketer of the past. Sourav Ganguly, Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid and V. V. S. Laxman are names which readily come to my mind. They bring a certain knowledge that would have been invaluable to the COA. Some of them may carry a bias that is widely known. But Vinod Rai, the COA Chairman, and his colleagues would have easily taken care of this through their own objectivity. Even now it is not too late to make good this glaring lacuna. Rai can take this up with the Supreme Court.
The COA is a good experiment that is worth monitoring. It would succeed or fail depending on the kind of leadership that its Chairman lends. I am sure the latter would keep in mind that this is not an audit job. He has been chosen not for fault finding, but for his fearlessness and the ability to lay down practical guidelines that would impose discipline and selflessness in day-to-day administration.
Overstepping comes easily to many leaders, and this is a pitfall that Rai and his team should scrupulously avoid. They should steer clear of those who would like to hang around them seeking favours. This is especially because their charter is unclear and the Supreme Court cannot go down to minute details.
However, I do not see anything wrong in the COA keeping its doors open to those who would like to bring to their attention glaring holes in current cricket administration. While they should welcome broad suggestions, they should not entertain specific complaints of maladministration. In my view the COA is not a policeman but a facilitator which would enhance the BCCI’s credibility.
One major criticism against the Supreme Court is over its rigid prescription that no one above the age of 70 will be eligible to occupy any position in the Board. What has possibly prompted the court is the tenacity of some old foggies to hang on to office. I, however, feel that this is unfair to those above 70, who had served the game with great dedication and had won international acclaim, and are being kept out using the age criterion. Some of them are still willing to give their best to the game. Having laid down the nine-year rule, is it not a kind of double jeopardy to say that they will be disqualified also on ground of age?
There is a general feeling that the Lodha Committee had used the same brush handling diverse personalities. Like in every walk of life, the BCCI had and has its quota of men, who had rendered yeoman service to the game, without expectation of rewards, and out of sheer passion for the game, and also those men who have exploited their position in the game’s administration for their own benefit. I am afraid the Lodha Committee went overboard in its zeal by laying down the age limit.
In sum, cricket administration in the country is in the throes of reform that aims at probity and an attempt to broad base the pool from which future administrators will come.
A cynical view is that whatever is being done now will not be able to keep out power pedlars and carpetbaggers. Let us hope this does not happen. I am confident that cricket lovers in the country and the media will keep an eagle eye to prevent this misfortune.
(The writer is a columnist based in Chennai)
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