The Supreme Court order appointing former Indian cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar as interim head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India to manage the affairs of the Indian Premier League this year ought to be welcomed by players, administrators and fans alike. The order seeks to strike a pragmatic balance between addressing the malaises highlighted by the scandal that hit the IPL’s sixth edition and allowing the highly popular tournament to remain on the country’s cricket calendar without impairment. A happy outcome for cricket is the removal of N. Srinivasan, who had refused to step down as president of the Board despite his position becoming untenable long ago. The order thus removes the element of bias in the ongoing inquiry into the allegations of betting and spot-fixing in IPL. It also addresses the conflict of interest between Mr. Srinivasan’s role in India Cements, the owner of a franchise, and as head of the national cricket body. It has directed that none associated with India Cements should be part of the BCCI. The Board will be managed by two former Test cricketers — Shivlal Yadav, who will discharge the BCCI president’s functions, and Mr. Gavaskar, whose role will be limited to IPL operations this year. Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, the two franchises embroiled in the scandal, will stay in the tournament.
The people who should take the blame for the game reaching such a pass that the country’s highest court has had to intervene and make arrangements to run cricket without taint or suspicion, are without doubt Mr. Srinivasan and his colleagues on the Board. The Board displayed laxity in implementing anti-corruption measures and responded to the crisis set off by revelations of spot-fixing with equivocation, obfuscation and intransigence. It tried to paper over the scandal by appointing an inquiry panel that the Mumbai High Court declared illegal. Captain M.S. Dhoni, tainted by obvious conflict of interest, joined the chorus before the Supreme Court-appointed Mukul Mudgal Committee that Gurunath Meiyappan was not the owner or principal of CSK, but only a cricketing enthusiast. Hopefully, the tenure of Mr. Yadav and Mr. Gavaskar, however brief, will be an opportunity to clean up the BCCI’s affairs. By disclosing his interest in advance — that he had a contract as a commentator with the BCCI — the ace batsman has got off the mark with a touch of credibility. To meet the challenges ahead, he needs to bring to his latest role the qualities he had displayed on the field — the discretion to evade a barrage of bouncers, the courage to carry on without the protection of a helmet and the instinct to know where his off-stump is.