Editorial

HOW CAN THE BCCI GET OUT OF THIS MESS?

February 08, 2017 09:10 AM

By Inderjit Singh Bindra

I must admit that the mess up by the cricket administrators has tormented my sleep over the past few days. I am finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that a Supreme Court appointed panel of administrators will soon run the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

A venerable institution, once led by dedicated personalities such as Anthony De Mello who was the first representative of Indian Cricket Board on the then Imperial Cricket Council (Present ICC), and those who are in intricate knowledge of the working of the Board told us how he had persisted the then Chairman of ICC, Duke of Edinburgh till he agreed to send the English Cricket Team to India. Then there are stories of builders like M.A.Chidambaram and M. Chinnaswamy who consolidated the position of the Board further. Under NKP Salve's leadership, BCCI succeeded in 1984 to shift the World Cup out of England which was by then regarded as the divine right of English Cricket Board. During this period Asian Cricket Council was also formed at my residence at Rashtarpati Bhawan, Delhi.

I had the privilege of working under NKP Salve as organising Secretary cum Convener for the 1987 Reliance World Cup. Despite opposition of some of the participating nations, World Cup changed the face of the World Cricket and marked the beginning of shift of power from the Australia - England nexus to the subcontinent. Mr. Madhav Rao Scindia, despite Jagmohan Dalmiya and I being his vehement opponents, showed great qualities of the statesmanship by asking us to negotiate with TWI in 1993 at Pune. I, on behalf of BCCI, negotiated the agreement with TWI for producing the host broadcasting signals which was upto then was the sole prerogative of the the Doordarshan. For the first time under Mr. Scindia's leadership, an agreement was signed with Doordarshan wherein they have agreed to pay money during England series for broadcasting the matches LIVE. A team led by yours truly and late Jagmohan Dalmiya took over the reins of BCCI in 1993 in Scindia's pocket borough of Gwalior. We won against the combined opposition led by Mr. Scindia and Mr. Sharad Pawar, who just ceased to be Defence Minister of India. Thus began the famous partnership between two of us from 1993-96 which by all accounts is regarded as golden period in Indian Cricket.

We worked as a team and managed to bring ESPN to India and broke the monopoly of Doordarshan. We, thus, invited the wrath of entire Government of India including arrest and detention of Mr. Bill Sinrich, head of TWI by Bangalore Police and seizure of their equipment, the details of which are already well known. It finally resulted into Supreme Court ruling in favour of the cricketing fraternity during the Hero Cup. Our team was also successful in getting the veto of two founding members namely England and Australia abolished in ICC which was still the exclusive preserve of England and Australia and presided over by the President of one of the Clubs affiliated with English Cricket namely Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). Mainly due the efforts of the Indian Cricket Board, ICC was democratised and thus ceased to be sole preserve of the England and Australia. During this golden period, we also managed, in 1994, to bring the World cup once again to India and staged in 1996. I was the Board President, Jagmohan Dalmiya was the Organising Secretary. But for a minor hiccup in the Opening ceremony and semifinal played at Kolkata, the event was a great success and it marked the emergence of India as major Cricket Super power.

I was succeeded by a cricketing giant namely Mr. Raj Singh Dungarpur. He took over from me in my home town and in the sporting facility now named after me as "IS Bindra Cricket Stadium", Mohali. Due to the effort of all these stalwarts, Indian Cricket became the envy of the Cricketing world. Unfortunately now just about two decades later, it is at the risk of suffering the crippling blow. The recent crisis was sparked by the IPL match fixing controversy in 2013. At that time, BCCI President Narayanswami Srinivasan (Srini) should have been forced to resign enabling a fair investigation into the affairs of his son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, to restore public faith in the game. I pushed Srini to step aside from running the Board completely, fine both the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals 20 crores each, and ban his son-in-law from cricket-related activities.

However, Srini drunk on power scoffed at me and behaved as he was bigger than the courts and accountable to no one. From my vantage point, I believe Srini’s failure to resign was a missed opportunity to clean up cricket. Good governance, public trust, and ethics are values that need to permeate the game, its politics, and the public perception. This is the institutional credo we need to demonstrate to our youth so they can be inspired and have faith in our governance. It is abominable that Srini treated the Board like his own jagir and mismanaged matters. It were his abysmal errors of judgment that ultimately opened the doors for the Supreme Court of India to get involved in cricket and order Srini to quit as BCCI President in March, 2014. More recently, it is also true that the Board pushed itself into a corner by not being flexible and more accommodating some of the key Justice Lodha Committee’s reforms. They were tabled a year ago, and instead of flexible implementation, the Board has again erred by being intransigent and obstructive. The Board’s mistakes have been piling up and it is plunging into self-destruct mode. Some of the administrators regarded cricket as their private fiefdom.

Even recently, there was a meeting under the leadership of ousted and defamed administrator of the Board in Bangalore to work out a counter strategy. Meeting was attended by erstwhile sworn enemies like Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke which proved once again that impending loss of power for those who regarded as their jagirs, bring the enemies and friends together.

My sources also told me that decision was made to sabotage the working of the Panel to be appointed by the Supreme Court by attending State Associations who are the ultimate power centers for organising the cricket and electing the Office Bearers of the august body. As I said in my Question and Answer interview in Telegraph yesterday that the buzz is that the panel would have three nominees, one from judiciary, one from the civil services and a former cricketer -- From the Judiciary i would go for Justice Mukul Mudgal or a former CJI Justice V.N. Khare, who has probably played first class cricket -- From the civil service, my choice would be between Nikhil Kumar and Sumedh Saini, both IPS officers, Saini had been responsiblel for the security in 2011 World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan.

As for Nikhil, besides having been a distinguished officer, he has been the Governor of two States, both area avid cricket fans and are first rate Organisers. Mohinder Pandove, who served under me in the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) for 30 years, would be my pick as a former cricketer. I would have chosen Sourav Ganguly but he is the President of the State Association. Rahul Dravid's name comes to mind, but his drawback is that he has no experience in administration.

I am now 75 years old and refuse to be a silent spectator as Indian cricket goes through its most testing period. I’m padded up, so to speak, and will be throwing down some more ideas for the betterment of the game in the days ahead. Stay tuned!

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