Rivalries to split cricket wide open
The return of Indian cricket’s prodigal son Lalit Modi as the newly-elected president of Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) signals more torrential times for the sport in this country and the resultant suffering that might be heaped on unsuspecting players caught in the crossfire. Modi, former IPL commissioner and pretty much the sole architect of the glitzy spectacle, is a sworn archenemy of N Srinivasan, the BCCI chief. That the comeback king was banned for life only six months back by the cricketing board testifies to the churning waters of Indian favourite sport, which has regrettably fallen victim to internecine wars between battling factions, represented by Modi and Srinivasan. Laying bare the increasing manegerisation and monetisation of the game, BCCI’s antics has been setting the agenda for cricket in India for several years now, with the field becoming only an adjunct to opaque boardroom negotiations. With the return of Lalit Modi, Indian cricket is likely to witness another chapter of long-drawn conflict, legal and financial, fought between the archrivals. Banning RCA is only the beginning of that protracted battle between the two egotists, which is looming on the horizon now. Already, Srinivasan has condemned in no uncertain words the election of Modi as the president of RCA, while the former IPL commissioner, who has spent two years in exile in London to avoid criminal cases in various courts of India, has declared that he would cleanse Indian sporting culture of the sleaze and corruption synonymous with IPL.
As the cricket heavyweights fight it out, sportsmen, even the starry ones with enormous clout both in the boardrooms and among sport buffs, would find it increasingly difficult to have a level playing field. Players under RCA, former Ranji Trophy winners, will face discrimination and unmerited prejudice from the top board, which might impose penalties both legal and financial. The crunch will be felt by entry-level and middle-order sportsmen, who depend on state grants to make it to national stage, and by top-level players who would become fall guys in this clash of the managerial titans. Given that Srinivasan is himself indirectly implicated in the IPL spot-fixing scam, Modi will try every trick to gain moral high ground over the BCCI head and likewise the Chennai Super Kings owner would leave no stone unturned to discredit the RCA president and IPL’s glamorous architect-in-chief. Inasmuch as RCA is governed by Rajasthan Sports Act, and BCCI is only a registered body to oversee cricket in the country, it seems that the tussle between law and by-law is going to assume a precocious intensity that could seriously destabilise cricket in the country.