The proposal by the Lodha Committee to relegate founder member, Cricket Club of India (CCI), as an associate member of the BCCI without voting right --- as a part of the reforms process --- has not gone done well with former India opener and past president of the CCI Madhav Apte and the present president Kekoo Nicholson.
“I am not a contender for any place, either in the team or for profit and hence I can afford to say what I feel about the report. It’s (report) absurd because it doesn’t take into account reality. When you are a member of the BCCI --- right, wrong or otherwise --- be it the CCI or the National Cricket Club, Kolkata, they are two independent clubs and BCCI members. How can you suddenly say that they don’t have the right to vote, etc., etc. There is no logic in saying that Mumbai, Maharashtra and Vidarbha can play in the Ranji Trophy, but the three together will be allowed only one vote. You are allowed to take part in a national tournament and not allowed a vote.’’
The 83-year-old walking compendium of Indian cricket, who played seven Tests, scored 542 runs and was dropped for no rhyme or reason in the early 1950s said: “What does it achieve? In what manner does this clean up the Board’s working? It does not make sense at all. I think the whole report seems to be quite absurd and impractical. What’s the purpose of not recognising CCI’s overall contribution to the development of Indian cricket? How does it make cricket a better game in India? It’s erasing history and for what purpose? The Brabourne Stadium was a Test match venue for decades, the BCCI’s first office was there and the Bombay (Mumbai) Cricket Association also came into existence there. I cannot understand the logic or purpose behind it. How does this (withdrawing voting rights to the CCI and NCC) solve the alleged corruption in IPL? I would like to repeat, it’s all absurd.’’
The CCI president Nicholson said the Club would appeal. “The CCI is the soul of Indian cricket; it’s Indian cricket’s birthplace. Virtually all the BCCI tournaments, including the Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy, IPL, Test matches and ODIs, Twenty20 internationals, the ICC Champions Trophy, warm-up games and practice nets have taken place at the CCI. Even the MCA’s Kanga league and club tournaments are played here. The Club bent and broke rules to give Sachin Tendulkar playing membership when he was not even playing for Mumbai. We have also staged the ICC Women’s World Cup matches. The CCI has taken pride in giving everything to the cricketers,’’ said Nicholson.
The late Club president, Raj Singh Dungarpur, made it a point to award honorary life memberships to players of the World Cup-winning team of 1983 and also to many Indian and overseas cricketers. Subsequently, the Club awarded honorary life memberships to players of the 2011 World Cup-winning Indian team and before that to the members of the 2007 ICC World Twenty20-winning Indian team. Raj Singh also arranged camps for wicketkeepers with Bob Taylor, for leg spinners with Peter Philpott and for fielders with Jonty Rhodes. “This club is for the promotion of cricket,’’ he used to say.
The BCCI has always acknowledged the CCI’s role in the development of the game and it would take the Club’s sentiments into account when it examines the Lodha Committee report and decides on a course of action.