Sep 282013
 
Srinivasan's allies set for top BCCI posts
ICC president Sharad Pawar and BCCI president Shashank Manohar arrive for the 2010 ICC awards in Bangalore, October 6, 2010

Members of opposition camps are likely to get the boot at the BCCI election © Getty Images
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Dr G Ganga Raju, the Andhra Cricket Association (ACA) secretary, is likely to be awarded the post of the BCCI’s finance committee chairman at the annual general meeting on Sunday.

Raju, along with Goa Cricket Association (GCA) chief Vinod Phadke, had been contemplating defecting from the ruling group, led by N Srinivasan, to lend support to the Sharad Pawar group that was testing the waters from a distance to see whether Srinivasan could be challenged in the president’s election. However, once both the ACA and the GCA came over to Srinivasan’s side, the possibility of an organised opposition to Srinivasan died down, since the BCCI rules require a challenger to be supported by at least two members from the incumbent’s zone – south zone in Srinivasan’s case.

As a result, Raju is likely to replace Jyotiraditya Scindia, a junior minister in India’s federal government who was also a member of the disciplinary committee that conducted the enquiry against former IPL chairman Lalit Modi. Scindia was one of the first BCCI bigwigs to criticise Srinivasan following his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan’s arrest in the IPL corruption scandal.

If appointed, Raju will join the long list of Srinivasan aides who are likely to hold key posts in the BCCI over the next year. ESPNcricinfo also understands that Sanjay Patel and Anirudh Chaudhary have been “handpicked” by Srinivasan for the post of secretary and treasurer, respectively, with the former having served as interim secretary over the past four months.

Even two of the vice-presidents who are likely to be replaced following an internal vote among their respective zones are from the anti-Srinivasan camp. Niranjan Shah, a Pawar confidant, and Sudhir Dabir, a Shashank Manohar loyalist who is considered to be close to Pawar, are likely to be replaced as vice-presidents from the west and central zones, respectively. Their likely replacements, Ravi Savant, who will enter the AGM as interim treasurer, and Rajiv Shukla, another junior minister in the federal government, are part of the Srinivasan lobby.

Arun Jaitley’s decision to pull out as vice-president and recommend his Delhi & District Cricket Association colleague SP Bansal also raised a few eyebrows. While some BCCI insiders perceived Jaitley’s decision as a “mark of protest” against Srinivasan’s handling of affairs, a DDCA official clarified that Jaitley – who was considered to be Srinivasan’s legal advisor during the recent tumult and is the leader of the opposition in the government – decided to step aside only because he “won’t be able to spare time” for the BCCI in an election.

Ranjib Biswal, the president of the Orissa Cricket Association, and current BCCI interim head Jagmohan Dalmiya are prime contenders for heading the IPL committee. Heads of other key committees, including the marketing committee and National Cricket Academy board, have not been decided due to a lack of consensus among members. The decisions will now be taken during the meeting, scheduled to start at 11am.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) may emerge as the only BCCI unit not to be represented at the AGM. MCA had earlier nominated its president, Ajay Shirke, who had resigned as BCCI treasurer after criticising the manner in which the BCCI handled Meiyappan’s arrest, to attend the AGM. However, since Shirke has been in the UK on business, the MCA had sent a letter seeking a replacement. However, the replacement application reached the BCCI office in Chennai at around 5.20pm, almost an hour and half after the 4pm deadline. “The house will decide whether to allow MCA to be represented once the meeting is convened,” a BCCI official said.

Sep 282013
 
The BCCI's year of controversy

As the BCCI goes into its AGM, a look at the year gone by shows its disregard for propriety and public opinion has only served to overshadow its operational efficiency

BCCI president N Srinivasan during the ICC meeting, Colombo, October 9, 2012

N Srinivasan: digging his heels in © ICC/Getty
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In ideal circumstances, the annual general meeting (AGM) of any organisation is an opportunity to take stock, to formulate plans for the future, to apprise its stakeholders of where the body is headed. The BCCI’s AGM, though, is more about political equations and aspirations at the best of times. This year is worse than others, what with legal wrangles and fixing controversies raising new issues of propriety every day. This AGM might not have the required mood to analyse the year gone by and make plans for the one coming up, but what if the BCCI were to look back?

There have been IPL controversies both at the start and the end of the year, and the current one is not going to die down any time soon. The president is all set to be re-elected unopposed, but the highest court of the country has said the man has to get his name cleared before assuming office. It was a year when the BCCI was the farthest removed from what the public thinks of it, when its functioning was questioned by the enforcement directorate and the courts, but amid all the controversies it also found enough time to successfully organise two home Test series and a busy domestic season, to host Pakistan without glitches, to provide numerous opportunities for young fringe players through A tours and generate employment for quite a few former cricketers through its broadcast deal that has had more domestic cricket on TV than ever before.

The BCCI can hardly hide behind those achievements. They pale in comparison to the questions of propriety asked of it. Soon after its last AGM, the BCCI oversaw a controversial sale of the Hyderabad franchise in the IPL. Turned out it was only a warm-up for the legal tussles and muck that was to follow. Unhappy with the treatment meted out to its franchise, Pune Warriors, Sahara, India’s team sponsors and one of Indian cricket’s biggest benefactors over the previous 10 years, expressed its intention to pull out of Indian cricket. Again.

The BCCI’s energies were set to be centred around the IPL, but there were skeletons waiting to tumble out of the closet. Mohinder Amarnath, a former selector who was sacked as opposed to being named the chairman as was anticipated, accused N Srinivasan of interfering with selections. Most importantly, not allowing them to remove MS Dhoni as captain. Now there might have been cricketing merit in what was eventually done – there is even a clause that says every team selection has to be ratified by the board president – but here we are talking of a vice-chairman and managing director of a company saving the captaincy of the company’s vice-president. The company incidentally owns an IPL team captained by the vice-president.

Thankfully Dhoni and his India team began to turn around its fortune, for who knows he might have been disowned if not, just like the managing director’s son-in-law who presented himself as the owner of Chennai Super Kings, and attended conferences in that capacity. The moment the news of Gurunath Meiyappan’s alleged involvement in the IPL betting scandal came up, he went from being the owner to an enthusiast in no time at all.

 
 
The BCCI found enough time to successfully organise two home Test series and a busy domestic season, to host Pakistan without glitches, to provide numerous opportunities for young fringe players through A tours and generate employment for quite a few former cricketers through its broadcast deal that has had more domestic cricket on TV than ever before. But the BCCI can hardly hide behind those achievements. They pale in comparison to the questions of propriety asked of it.
 

The most charitable interpretation of the whole scandal was that the BCCI had opened up cricket to unsavoury elements, but had not taken due precaution to guard against it. A proper corporation would have sacked everyone responsible for such a lapse of security, but here the BCCI fell to its lowest. Until then there was nothing to suggest Srinivasan was personally at fault. Until now he was just a victim of carelessness. But now the BCCI appointed a panel that would absolve everybody without a thorough investigation. It was as clear a message as any that the BCCI didn’t care what people thought of the way it functioned.

The board was now without an open leader, and had a figurehead who clearly knew he was just keeping the seat warm, playing Bharat to the exiled Ram. Still the board had enough energy to interfere in the internal matters of another board. Again this call to ask Cricket South Africa to steer clear of Haroon Lorgat might or might not have had administrative merit, but the BCCI’s reaction to his appointment showed how little regard it held the public and the international cricket community in. Not only did it renege on an agreement it made in principle, it disappointed the people who had been looking forward to a full tour of South Africa with some anticipation. Not to mention its own cricket wing: the selectors who put plans in place, and the coach who went to South Africa to see how the A team was doing there.

The cases, inquiries and controversies will not cease. Nor will the BCCI run out of people like Ravi Shastri who will hail it and claim that its stance on the DRS has been vindicated although the BCCI never really told us what its stance was. But the BCCI’s operational efficiency – it is no mean job to organise 13 simultaneous first-class matches every week of the season, with them also coinciding with internationals – will keep being neglected unless it cleans up its act on other fronts.

And there is a lot to clean. And more will pile on. Next year’s IPL will clash with general elections in India, and might need to be taken out of India. A new team sponsor might be needed. The search for a new title sponsor for cricket in India is on. The BCCI will hope that in the coming year it bounces back like its cricket team did after a horrible last year. How that cricket team will hope it had its board’s tenacity to dig its heels in and somehow, by hook or by crook, maintain status quo when it kept losing.

Sep 272013
 
Carrots and sticks keep Srinivasan confident
MS Dhoni talks to IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla, Delhi Daredevils v Chennai Super Kings, 2nd eliminator, IPL 2012, Chennai, May 25, 2012

The successor to Rajiv Shukla as IPL chairman is among the things to be decided at the AGM © AFP
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The Supreme Court’s strictures on N Srinivasan and the BCCI elections don’t seem to have affected preparations within the board for Sunday’s annual general meeting, of which the elections are a part. Srinivasan’s own confident statement that he would attend the meeting and stand for re-election is mirrored in the business-as-usual attitude of his colleagues on the board, making any discussion on whether he should or should not contest irrelevant.

Right now, there is serious business to be concluded: The distribution of the various board posts and similar rewards. The deadline to file nominations for all the nine posts – president, secretary, treasurer, joint secretary and five vice-presidents – ends at 4pm on Saturday, enabling all sorts of possible compromises for all the top posts. The corollary – the prospect of losing out on staging matches or landing plum tour assignments – is what is keeping the opposition in check.

All the five incumbent vice-presidents, one from each zone, are set to be replaced, the final decisions regarding their replacements to be taken in the zonal unit meetings on Saturday morning. At the same time, once the likes of Jagmohan Dalmiya, Arun Jaitley, Rajiv Shukla and Anurag Thakur – key figures in the BCCI – check in to their hotel, the candidates for other key positions, including that of the IPL governing council chairman, will be zeroed in on.

Despite the board seemingly divided in the aftermath of the IPL corruption scandal, it is unlikely that there will be an election for any of the top posts. Traditionally, once a president is elected unopposed in the BCCI, even the other office-bearers emerge as consensus candidates from his group of supporters. It would be interesting to see whether Sanjay Patel and Ravi Savant, who were appointed secretary and treasurer in June following the resignations of Sanjay Jagdale and Ajay Shirke, end up retaining their positions.

With Srinivasan’s re-election in little doubt, the sole question concerns who will preside over the AGM. Similar to most of the AGMs, where the members usually request the senior-most member attending the meeting to preside, it is likely that Dalmiya, who has been running the board’s day-to-day affairs during Srinivasan’s “exile”, may chair the AGM.

In a way, BCCI officials appear relieved that Srinivasan’s decision to step aside, in the wake of the IPL spot-fixing scandal that saw his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan arrested, has been vindicated. While questions were raised over whether the BCCI constitution allowed for the president to “step aside”, the Supreme Court’s directive will most probably mean the arrangement will prevail till the BCCI’s legal tussle with Cricket Association of Bihar ends.

In any case, officials believe it will only be a matter of days before the case is resolved. The Supreme Court’s next hearing is on Monday, the day after the meeting.

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