Manohar: The Board had lost its credibility in the last two years

Shashank Manohar cautions that there should never be an allegation of bias in the BCCI’s functioning. (This is the second and concluding part of this exclusive interview. The first part appeared on this website on Nov. 26).

The BCCI President Shashank Manohar.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

The need to improve the BCCI’s image is uppermost in its president Shashank Manohar’s mind. In this concluding part of a candid interview, Manohar holds a mirror to the Board and admits that it was seen as a ‘cozy club’. The BCCI president is keen to erase such references during his tenure.

On October 4, you announced a number of measures to win back the confidence of Indian cricket fans. You had set out with a plan of action, do you think you are almost there now?

Whatever commitments I had made on the first day of my election (as president of the BCCI), I have fulfilled 95 per cent of them. There was one commitment with regard to setting up a system to eradicate spot and match-fixing, as also betting in the game. I am working at that and I am quite hopeful that it would be worked out by the end of this month.

The ICC and BCCI have anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU) in place. Betting perhaps may be out of the ICC and BCCI’s control, but will the people be dissuaded from doing other activities that come under the corruption ambit?

The ICC and BCCI are educating the players at every level. There is one difficulty in that the ACSU does not have the investigative powers which are with the police authorities. That’s the reason we have to take the help of the investigative agency to curb this menace.

I have approached the State (Maharashtra) government, not the Central government. The Mumbai Police has all the powers. What we want basically is intelligence input from the government. If the investigating agency shares information with the Board, that would solve most of our problems.

You said in 2011 that you will never step back into the BCCI office. What has made you change that?

In spite of the IPL, I was still not willing to come back. People wanted me to occupy this position. And I thought that the Board has given me a lot in my life. So when everybody is saying that I have the capabilities to change a scenario, and when it’s time that I have to give something back to the Board that’s given me a lot, I thought it would not be fair on my part to be adamant and say ‘No.’

Are there quality administrators in the Board to become its president?

There are good people who have to be involved more in the Board’s functioning. I don’t want to name them.

The appointment of the ombudsman seems to have evoked resentment saying why bring an outsider?

No one has resisted the appointment of the ombudsman. It’s all the more fair that all the members of the Board immediately agreed to the appointment of an ombudsman because everybody feels that the perception has to change. The perception of the people in this country and particularly the fans, is that the BCCI wraps everything under the carpet, that it is a cozy club, they take all decisions on their own and they protect people who commit wrong things. So to remove that perception, here is an independent man, a person with integrity, with legal eminence, and nobody can raise a finger. We have given finality to his judgment. We are not going to sit over his judgment. His decision would be final and binding.

What’s the purpose of taking the administrator out of the disciplinary procedure of the Board?

Even with regard to the administrator, the enquiry (should there be complaints of indiscipline, misconduct against him) would be conducted by the ombudsman. He will submit his report. Because the administrator is a Board member, he cannot be removed by the ombudsman. So the Board has to take a call and I don’t think when the ombudsman gives a report holding a person guilty, the Board would say that “No, no, he’s not guilty.” He will have the last word in conflict of interest issues, but with regard to the administrator, he will submit a report.

There should not be even an allegation of bias. In the earlier system three people used to sit on the disciplinary committee; the president was a must with two other members of the Board. In Lalit Modi’s case, he raised an objection against me that I have a bias against him. Then he raised an objection against Arun Jaitley also and then he raised an argument of bias against Chirayu Amin also. I am not going to give an opportunity to any administrator to say this is a biased enquiry. So now the enquiry will be conducted by an independent person who has nothing to do with the Board.

The life of the BCCI’s constitution has been eight decades and more. Do you think the time has come to rewrite it?

I don’t think there are lot many flaws in the constitution...no and I don’t think there is anything wrong in the constitution.

Is the BCCI anxious about the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee report?

Not at all.

You have of course met the committee?

If there are good suggestions, they are always welcome. I cannot do anything about perceptions; I can do something about realities.

Many feel that the BCCI was harsh on Roger Binny being removed as selector?

The Board was scared about Stuart Binny. Because as I said, the perception has to change that there should not be any injustice to Stuart Binny, a deserving cricketer. People should not feel that he is in the side because of his father.

There are issues to deal with Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and a few more associations?

We have put systems in place and said that accounts of every association would be scrutinised by an independent auditor that is one among the big four in India.

Rajasthan is a peculiar case because it backed the Board’s life ban on Lalit Modi and then it elected him president citing the state sports act?

The State association presidents attend Board meetings, but the voters of the presidents (and other office-bearers) are different. For example if the Vidarbha Cricket Association representative attends Board meetings, it’s the managing committee’s decision that he speaks at the meeting. But he does not control the 1300 members here. The members can throw him out.

After the SGM on October 4, you touched upon two cricketing issues. You said there was no second line and asked where are the spinners?

We want to revamp the National Cricket Academy again and to make it a centre of excellence. The Karnataka Government has offered us three other land areas. We want to start our own NCA with all facilities and infrastructure. And with Dilip Vengsarkar being appointed the Director I can proudly say this that when the NCA committee was made, all the persons in the committee were all cricketers who have played minimum — Ranji Trophy.

The central contract to men cricketers has been reduced this year?

This is not given as a largesse, you have to earn a contract.

Was it the worst time for the Board in the last two or three years?

I cannot say for the period (preceding 2013), but the Board had lost its credibility in the last two years. That much I can say.

(Concluded)