Innovative OCA handles Lodha challenge ahead of Cuttack ODI

The Lodha Committee reforms is all set to open a new chapter in Odisha’s cricket administration.

Asirbad Behera

On paper, OCA CEO Bidyut Nayak and local MLA Debashish Samantray are the people in charge of the preparations. However, it is the 73-year-old Asirbad Behera, who had held office for 16 years, calling the shots.   -  K. R. Deepak

In this dusty town, juxtaposing history and modernity, the Barabati Stadium, built by the Government through public contributions in 1958, holds a place of pride. On its lush green turf, Asirbad Behera, the former Orissa Cricket Association secretary — who stepped down recently following the Supreme Court order on cricket reforms — sits authoritatively on a chair overseeing the preparations for the second ODI between India and England on Thursday.

“There is only a CEO working after everybody (some 173 members including officials at the district-level) stepped down. Since people don’t have the experience of hosting a match at this level, I am looking after the preparations,” says Behera, surrounded by at least 10 of his associates who await his instructions.

On paper, OCA CEO Bidyut Nayak and local MLA Debashish Samantray, who was made organising committee chairman, are the people in charge of the preparations. For all practical purposes, however, it is the 73-year-old Behera, who had held office for 16 years, calling the shots. Behera's name was printed on the tickets before being erased following protests.

The OCA, which is overdependent on one man, is a case study which highlights the question on how the Lodha Committee recommendations can be implemented in letter and spirit across all associations throughout the country.

The OCA — which had 11 vice-presidents and four joint secretaries in the recent dispensation — has schools, colleges and clubs as members with voting rights and most of them are based in Cuttack. The Lodha recommendations make all of them ineligible if the one district one vote policy is followed (after a constitutional amendment).

When Behera is questioned on how things would run in the OCA without experienced hands since most members had been rendered ineligible due to the Lodha recommendations, he says, “Let's see what happens in the Supreme Court on January 19. If the new people come, then we are there to help them.”

It was almost 16 years back that the state produced an international player — Shiv Sunder Das. The OCA does not have a stadium of its own but employs around 80 staffers. The Lodha Committee reforms is all set to open a new chapter in Odisha’s cricket administration.