Millennium Post

Changes to the game

Despite the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s please, the apex court remains unmoved. On Friday, the court asked the Justice RM Lodha Committee to appoint an independent auditor to examine the accounts of the BCCI. It also asked the panel to impose a cap on the monetary value of the contracts that the board can sign, and any deal above the limit will need the pane's approval. The court also ordered India’s premier cricket body not to release funds to state cricket bodies till they agreed to implement the committee's recommendations. At one level, the court order is a strong-arm tactic meant to bend the BCCI to its will and apply the necessary reforms. By turning off the board’s money faucet, the board may have little choice but to implement the Lodha committee reforms.  According to one leading new daily, “The court order may impact several future tournaments, including the IPL, where BCCI requires entering into agreements to lend various rights.” The veracity of this claim is yet to be established. But it was only after the Supreme Court weighed in that the cricket board decided to implement these recommendations that seek to cure the disease of corruption that has afflicted the game. Moreover, one must not forget that the recent spate of judicial activism, in this case, was a result of the BCCI’s own doing, when it let spot-fixing soil the popular game. True to form, the BCCI chose to implement only some of them at its Special General Meeting on September 30. Some of the high-profile recommendations from the judicial body that were not accepted by the BCCI include the “one state-one vote” directive, the age cap of 70 for office-bearers and the capping of tenure in office to nine years.

Long-time observers contend that the “one state-one vote” directive would completely change existing power structures within the organisation. Meanwhile, the fixing of tenures for all BCCI office-bearers could leave many of Indian cricket’s most powerful men facing an immediate exit.  The court order comes after the Supreme Court-appointed Justice RM Lodha committee earlier this month asked banks to freeze the BCCI’s accounts for not following through on its directives. At stake here is the financial clout of the BCCI. It is no secret that the BCCI has not taken too kindly to the Lodha panel’s proposed reforms to clean up Indian cricket. Board president and prominent BJP leader Anurag Thakur had earlier said that the cricketing body cannot comply with the guidelines as they were "practically not implementable".  But Thakur has been left with little choice, but to comply. The court has directed the BCCI president to submit an undertaking, guaranteeing that the board will follow the recommendations of the Lodha committee and the court's orders.

However, the standoff between the two entities is a lot bigger than financial transactions. This directive is indicative that the Lodha panel is not shy to go after the source of BCCI’s power—money. In this battle for the control of finances, the BCCI has made it clear that they will do everything to protect their turf. There is no doubt that BCCI is a cosy cartel of vested interests, whose only interests are to protect its massive profits. It is indeed a corrupt body that desperately needs reform. In a blatant bid to protect their interests, the political class, cutting across party lines, has done little to augment that process. Despite these facts, some have argued that the apex court has gone way beyond its constitutional brief to try and impose a solution on the cricket body is run. They argue that it is not the apex court’s place to decide how the BCCI or cricket should be administrated.

In another development, the BCCI has agreed to use the Decision Review System during the upcoming Test series against England on a trial basis. The DRS is a technology-based system introduced to review controversial decisions made by the on-field umpires. In the past, the BCCI has used its immense financial clout to oppose the Umpire Decision Review System (DRS), even though the International Cricket Council had recommended its mandatory use. The board’s argument has often stemmed from the belief that that the system is not foolproof. However, as noted cricket columnist Sidharth Monga has argued: “Turning your back on a system that the whole cricketing world wants a discussion on, refusing to discuss it because it is not 100 percent, is not good enough.” Thankfully, the BCCI has finally relented. 
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