Remember Malinga’s no-ball in an IPL game which wasn’t called, leaving both captains furious about the glaring error? Now the Committee of Administrators (CoA) is set to cross the line and bowl not just a big no ball but a wrong ‘un with suspect action.
Mandated by the Supreme Court to implement the Lodha reforms, CoA has gifted itself a paid holiday in England during the World Cup. Regardless of who wins the World Cup, CoA will not be a loser, spending the summer away from India’s uncomfortable heat. Of its three members, only Diana Edulji has done the honourable thing and declined the trip. (Complete coverage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019)
The CoA has granted itself this gift voucher producing an unseemly cross-batted heave rather than being the batsman who should be playing with a straight bat. To stretch the metaphor, this is also against the run of play, and its own rules.
In the past, CoA rightly came down on the Board’s freebie culture, showcausing officials for visiting Bhutan, curtailing the CEO’s stay in England and drawing a bold redline across other proposals for foreign trips.
It is difficult to understand how the reform agenda is advanced by CoA’s presence in England during the World Cup.
While details of the purpose of this trip are sketchy (BCCI refuses to come under RTI) there could be a covert track two diplomatic initiative to engage with PCB’s Ehsan Mani. Or, maybe CoA is responding to an appeal from the team management to help out with throw downs during nets.
Until the CoA clarifies, approving a jaunt for itself is hardly the square thing to do. Sports administrators enjoying official perks are part of the game, and that has to an extent been accepted. BCCI also has an impressive track record in this. But yesterday’s normal does not fly today, more so as the SC-appointed caretaker administrators are expected to set an example.
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The issue is only partly about the expense because BCCI is generous with allowances and travel entitlement. More importantly, it is about being seen as proper and financially prudent, which nobody knows better than the CoA chairman.
What is jarring is not the cost, but intent and message. If BCCI reform is the objective, then this is against the spirit of the game. If the much-criticised BCCI old guard was guilty of succumbing to the temptations of office, is the CoA holiday in England any different?
Strangely, this isn’t the only loose ball bowled by CoA. Its political posturing over Pakistan’s participation in the World Cup was a spectacular self-goal—if the aim was to punish Pakistan, other members were not interested. The ICC junked the request and a snubbed India stood isolated.
CoA has been in office for more than two years, but reforms are far away and Indian cricket continues to get hit. State units starved for funds are in trouble and development work is almost at a standstill. On one hand, domestic players haven’t been paid and the structure with 37 first-class teams needs a serious rethink. On the other side, there is a lack of leadership and accountability.
Why must ugly battles about who should give away trophies be made a part of Indian cricket’s narrative?
((The writer is a senior sports administrator. Views are personal))
May 22, 2019 15:22 IST
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