Those hoping Indian cricket would find a way to redeem itself in the wake of the spot-fixing and betting scandal can be forgiven for feeling let down by the uninspiring outcome of Sunday’s meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Everything from the secretive deliberations and backroom dealings to the cryptic announcement at the end assigning temporary charge of the Board’s working group to Jagmohan Dalmiya is proof that the sickness in the game’s administration goes well beyond the moral infirmities of one individual. By bringing back Mr. Dalmiya and, more significantly, by providing a face-saving way for N. Srinivasan to try and weather the present storm, the Board has sent out all the wrong signals. The emergency meeting, summoned to discuss the fate of Mr. Srinivasan — whose son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, has been arrested by the Mumbai police for allegedly betting in the Indian Premier League — provided a rare opportunity for the BCCI to clean up its mess. Instead, it turned out to be a farcical exercise. None of the shocking events of the past 10 days made the slightest impact on a set of officials — including politicians — who unfailingly stood by each other to protect themselves. Lack of transparency and accountability had always been an integral part of the Board’s functioning but its credibility has been dented even more following Sunday’s meeting. Instead of being put through a cleansing operation, Indian cricket runs the risk of being shoved deeper in a muddle.
But even now, it may not be too late. If Mr. Dalmiya can use his short tenure at the helm of affairs to find redemption at many levels — he was dumped by the BCCI in 2006 for alleged financial irregularities — then cricket administration in India can still regain its lost ground. For that to happen, Mr. Dalmiya has to make public all the dealings of the Board, including the manner in which the three-member committee set up to probe the betting and spot-fixing allegations was constituted. If the two retired judges were handpicked by Mr. Srinivasan, fairness requires that the probe be entrusted to someone else. The public outrage over the mafia-like secrecy of the BCCI can only be addressed meaningfully when the ‘old boys club’ style of management is abandoned and transparency introduced. Apart from the faces presented by the IPL teams, nobody knows anything about where the money has come from — or even, where it goes. Neither the IPL franchise agreement with the Board, nor for that matter the BCCI constitution, is in the public domain. A body that has been given the right to field an “India” team should not be allowed to get away with such a scandalous lack of transparency and accountability.