India-England series will go on smoothly: Lodha panel

"We want to assure that cricket will not be affected at all. We discussed the issue with the Board CEO and directed him to ensure a smooth conduct of the series," says Justice Lodha.

Justice R. M. Lodha... "The Supreme Court order is self-operative and not time bound."   -  R. V. Moorthy

The India-England limited-overs series will not be disrupted. This was the firm assurance from the Justice Lodha panel, which met here on Wednesday, to the nation’s cricket fans.

The Lodha Committee took stock of the situation that arose following moves to disturb the National selection committee meeting in Mumbai on January 6, when the disqualified Board joint-secretary, Amitabh Choudhary, wanted to act as the convenor. The confusion was set to rest following a communication from the secretary of the Lodha Committee, Gopal Sankarnarayanan, who informed the BCCI’s Chief Executive Officer, Rahul Johri, that Choudhary was no longer a Board official.

The Lodha panel had given permission to the five selectors to pick the Indian team for the limited-overs series against England. “It was a one-off allowance,” emphasised Justice Lodha. “We had made the qualification norm for the selection committee clear in our recommendations. The committee can comprise only three Test players and that will be the criteria,” he confirmed.

The selection committee includes Test cricketers M. S. K. Prasad, Sarandeep Singh and Devang Gandhi, and non-Test players Gagan Khoda and Jatin Paranjpe.

 

Taking serious note of the incident, the Lodha Committee has decided to put things in perspective by answering the questions of the affiliated units of the Board. “We have addressed various queries from various associations. We are going to answer them as FAQs (frequently asked questions),” Justice Lodha told Sportstar.

The most important item on the agenda was to set the process for a smooth conduct of the India-England series and the subsequent international matches this season. “The Board CEO will be the person who will take the decisions in this regard. We want to assure that cricket will not be affected at all. We discussed the issue with the Board CEO and directed him to ensure a smooth conduct of the series,” Justice Lodha added.

Johri and the Board’s General Manager for Cricket Operations, M. V. Sridhar, have been entrusted with the task of handling the India-England series. “We don’t want to handle day-to-day affairs,” insisted Justice Lodha.

The Board’s units would soon feel the heat on financial matters. The Deloitte audit reports on various associations have been critical of their functioning and the Lodha Panel is expected to deal with the findings firmly.

The Supreme Court-appointed committee — senior advocates Gopal Subramaniam and Anil Divan — would take a call on the roadmap for the future. It is learnt that any effort by anyone to disrupt cricket activities would not be tolerated.

The Lodha Committee was obviously irked by the alleged moves to prevent the Cricket Club of India (CCI) from hosting the warm-up matches against England at the Brabourne Stadium and rumours about the Hyderabad Cricket Association unwilling to host the Test against Bangladesh in February. The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) has already pulled out from hosting two matches against the England under-19 team.

As Justice Lodha said, “the Supreme Court order is self-operative and not time bound. The process may take time but the Board CEO knows his role clearly now.”

The associations have to finalise their working on the basis of the broad norms given to them. As for elections in some units, like Hyderabad and Rajasthan, they can’t be held since the matter is sub judice. The Lodha panel clarified that this was an issue beyond its purview.

The assurance from the Lodha Panel should convince cricket fans that they could expect a well-conducted series under the guidance of Johri and Sridhar. Among those following the series with interest would be Justice Lodha. “I saw a bit of the India ‘A’ warm-up match and am looking forward to the series (against England),” he said.