All is not well with world’s richest cricket body

BCCI
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The world’s richest cricket body is a divided house today. There are different centres of power, but no power centre. There is a CoA, enforced by the law. There is a CAC, the customary body with specific role, all intelligence but little powers. There is a CEO, the professional sans independence. And then there is the ‘constitutional democratically elected’ body – the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

All collectively leading up to a horizontal hub of power, with no pyramid to define supremacy. All powerful, without an absolute power. All supposed to support and complement each other, but all not at all comfortable with each other.

The developments of the past one week – from Kumble’s exist to BCCI’s position and stand in the ICC – will lay to rest the doubts, if any, on the prevailing mess in the system.

Then there are sources to release the ‘selective’ news, but no transparency to make the system accountable.

CRICKET OPERATIONS

To begin with cricket operations first. The Indian cricket team, under Virat Kohli, in the West Indies is without a head coach. No big task to deal with the hosts, now amongst the weakest cricketing nations. But a serious dent on the system. Head coach Anil Kumble decides to return home, when the team was boarding the bus to the airport on their way to the Caribbean Islands from England. Cricket Advisory Committee, with two of the three members, present in England was neither aware, nor could control the mess. Neither a coach is selected on time, nor the one going out could be handled professionally.

Then come the reports of coach-captain tussle brewing for months. The coach versus captain / team tussles in Indian cricket date back to the introduction of the coach’s concept. The Kumble episode, however, raises a bigger questions. On functioning. On accountability. The ‘supreme powers’ if any did never take stock of the boiling situation in the Indian dressing room.

CAC can only advise, but cannot force a decision. Is not a professionally-engaged body, but an honorary committee with no powers and limited brief. The BCCI will do, but only what CoA wants it to do – or, permits it to do. For anything and everything else there are fluctuating precedence and no guidelines.

Everybody’s responsibility is nobody’s responsibility. The phrase will best describe the prevailing scenario around coach’s selection. There were applicants, but no selection for the West Indies tour. No lessons learnt. BCCI invites fresh applications, but the CoA is not in the loop. The CeO Rahul Johri reportedly gives an explanation that potential coaches had stayed away earlier assuming that Kumble would be retained. CoA is not happy with explanation. Feeling to have been kept in the dark on the entire matter, rather. No professionalism or clash of interests and egos?

CONFUSION PREVAILS

Former BCCI and ICC chief N Srinivasan’s disqualification at that time was on two counts: he was over 70 years of age and had completed nine years as an office-bearer at both the TNCA and the BCCI, thereby violating the judgment of July 2016, which had approved the recommendations of the Lodha Committee. Nothing has or nothing can change on these two counts.

The CoA is the Supreme Court appointed body. But not ‘competent’ by its own explanations to interpret and implement the court directives. N Srinivasan, disqualified for being over 70 years of age and having completed nine years as TNCA and BCCI office-bearer, attends the board’s SGM in Mumbai. How and why? BCCI and CoA are busy passing the buck.

Elected BCCI office says the norms are followed, no court order is violated. It’s State associations prerogative to appoint a representative for the meeting. CoA explains the ‘a representative or administrator’s eligibility is beyond its brief. “That is an issue that the Supreme Court has to discuss. We have not been mandated by the Supreme Court to sit on judgment on a person’s eligibility, non-eligibility etc,” CoA chairman Vinod Rai says. “The attendance register will go to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court gets to know about all these things, so we are not here to sit in judgment on people’s qualification or disqualification.”

There are directives, but how to implement and to whom to implement is not clear. Srinivasan comes and rips apart the BCCI set up. On all fronts, blazing all guns. Questioning CoA and BCCI’s wisdom in accepting a reduced share from the ICC revenues.

LOSING POWER, LOSING CLOUT

The internal disorder is resulting in external defeats. Once ‘the commander’ is reduced to follow commands. The board that commanded power in the sports’ supreme global forum, is repeatedly failing to ‘manage’ its position in the ICC. The one who issued directives to reign the global body has failed to ‘manage numbers’ to protects its own rights and clouts. India’s stature in the world cricket administration is changed from the ‘ruler’ to the ‘targeted’.

The administrators of Indian cricket are failing to protect their contractual rights. Instead are forced to settle for far less. ‘We’ are happy to ‘negotiate it in our favor. For, ‘we’ managed to get more that what ‘we’ were offered, no matter if it’s far more less than what had been signed and sanctioned for us.

FAR REACHING IMPACT

There were no worries, if it were only about several hundred thousand dollars. The ‘defeat’ in the ICC is going to have far reaching impact. The Indian cricket in global sphere is isolated, because the administrators who managed the global numbers are isolated in the Indian set up. Collectively ‘we’ are defeated, just because ‘we’ have failed to hold that collective power. Next in the line will be power enforcement from individual boards.

Pakistan Cricket Board is the first to flex muscles. Next in the line will be national with their own national cricket leagues. It will not be for very long that the BCCI is able to isolate Indian star players from other national leagues – to keep IPL the supreme league of cricket. Soon, the Indian cricket powers be forced to reach a reciprocal understanding on exchange of players for various national leagues. With that will emerge the threat of decline in media and commercial rights value of ‘the supreme league’.

‘Our’ own mess has forced the system into a vicious cycle.

In the global power game, it’s not just about administration… a lot is driven by better management.

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