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Updated: May 26, 2013 12:44 IST

Where silence is golden and dissent rare

Vijay Lokapally
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Beyond cricket’s canons: money talks while fairness goes out the window

Once looked upon as a model of efficient administration, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) now stands exposed as an out-of-control behemoth.

The IPL spot-fixing scandal, and the alleged involvement of the BCCI president’s son-in-law in it, has put the cricket body and its claims to being an honestly run organisation squarely under the spotlight.

One of the richest sports bodies in the world, the Board has always made and implemented its own rules for the governance of cricket. Despite the raging controversy over the BCCI’s role in the rot that has set in and the allegations that it participates in it willingly, some would still maintain that it remains the country’s best-governed sports body.

“There is transparency in the way we conduct ourselves, the accounts are properly maintained, taxes paid on time and the functioning is essentially democratic. It has never failed to hold elections on time,” said one cricket administrator, but was unwilling to be named. Any discussion on the BCCI inevitably turns to the man who runs it, president N. Srinivasan, whose son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan is now under arrest for his alleged involvement in the scandal that threatens to consume Indian cricket.

To Mr. Srinivasan’s acolytes, such as the cricket administrator, he is a “tough man but also reasonable”, who did not mind that some of his decisions were opposed; he was receptive to new ideas, and wanted to help cricketers. The one-time payment — made to retired Test cricketers and first class cricketers who have played more than 75 matches — out of IPL profits, was his idea.

But to insider critics, he is an “autocrat” with “strong likes and dislikes.” And many see the one-time payment and pension scheme (a monthly payment to all retired first class cricketers) as schemes to buy silence from cricketers.

Barring Bishan Singh Bedi, not one former cricketer has stuck his neck out with a critical remark about the Board. It has been pointed out that icons past and present have been contracted to sing paeans. The cricketing fraternity has been silent about the IPL scandal.

“Everyone has been gagged, from officials to players,” lamented one cricketer, pointing out the silence is not new. “Not one former player spoke in support of Mohinder Amarnath when he was sacked as selector for not toeing the president’s line.”

And, not one former player spoke up about the Board chief's conflict of interest involving Chennai Super Kings, or against having national selector K. Srikkanth as CSK brand ambassador, or rewarding L. Sivaramakrishnan, a former Test player of no great stature — and an India Cements employee — with a spot in the ICC cricket committee.

Amarnath himself reacts with dignity. “It’s not that I paid the price for standing up to wrongdoings. But I did feel let down by the cricket fraternity and the BCCI as a whole.”

He seems to echo what most players believe in their hearts today. In order to survive in the Board, one has to be a ‘yes’ man, and one can always do well by striking some compromises — this seems to be the prevailing sentiment.

Insider talks is that Board officials are ‘spineless,’ and cannot criticise any decision of the president. This is quite a change from the time when administrators like M.A. Chidambaram, N.K.P. Salve, S. Sriraman and Raj Singh Dungarpur welcomed criticism.

In more recent times, Shashank Manohar was seen as an efficient president who could take strong measures because he had no personal agenda. He was known to deal firmly with the stars in the team, and players took extra care to be on their best behaviour. The Board has boasted of a traditionally strong and successful system in place to conduct the game. Matches are conducted with punctuality.

But the flow of money, in many cases out of sync with the performance, has had a negative impact. Many officials say this is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

Board officials take pride in highlighting their work. “The Board gives its players a secure future. We put our funds to good use. Cricket generates employment at various levels. Money is not the reason for corruption in cricket,” says one senior official, pointing out that nothing can be done if individual players get greedy, and succumb to their avarice.

But critics point out that the BCCI’s lax policies have had a role to play. For instance, every year, the Board gives affiliated State units Rs 23 crore each, from the profits it makes out of selling television rights. But strangely, it has no system in place to monitor how this largesse is utilised.

The elephant in the room of course is the source of the money flowing into BCCI coffers. Said one former international player: “You’ve to see how that money is generated. What’s the source of that investment? It comes from these IPL franchisees.”

Whether these team owners are purely driven by the love of the game is a question that needs to be asked, said the player, describing the entire system as flawed. “It is outrageous to say that so much money is good for the game,” he said.

With such gung ho been made about corruption in cricket. Limited over cricket being absurd and the whole system in BCCI , paternalistic and full of nepotism. one fails to understand where have all these so called critics been when the things were going on merrily and sreesanth was still a cricketing icon and idol of teenagers. now that the can is opened the worms are spilling out. and every person worth his salt is stading up and declaring,"I told you so". this is stupid. Is betting wrong? well this is a question of debate since it has been going on since times immemorial. more so this question makes one ponder over another one ," Is prostitution wrong? well , it is legal in a few countries and so is betting. My take, and suggestion is, just like prohibition cant stop people from chasing bootleggers. similarly banishing betting is like more sinning against than sinning. legalise it. charge tax. and help the poor.

from:  Rishi Grover
Posted on: May 26, 2013 at 16:53 IST

It is a blessing that the cricket board in India is at present flush
with funds.There is a lot to be done in India to promote and sustain
this sport and encourage other sports also.A long way back when I was
operating Windows 95 I bought a whole lot of interesting CD's and one
of them came free.A CD about Baseball and Baseball parks in America.
There is a lot of employment,steel usage and covered sports area with
openable covers at the top in it.It is that people who think
themselves very big in India like Tata,Birla,Reliance or BHEL or Sail
or any of them never thought in terms of covered all weather stadiums
and some with AC also as the requirement for India.Do they like/love
the people of India or use them as fodder for their business.Do they
wish to promote sports or treat them like nothing.Care for the people
will be returned in kind.They should mend their behaviour.

from:  Prof.Paul.V.John
Posted on: May 26, 2013 at 06:52 IST

Everyone should be presumed innocent until proved guilty. However in criminal cases circumstantial evidence, if overwhelming, strengthens the perception. presumption of guilt and transforms it to culpability. IPL twenty-twenty has degraded cricket. The arch culprits are the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Cricket is a team sport and there is no place for anyone who does not play for the team, National, State or Club. The corruption starts with the concept. That teams are owned is not uncommon in USA but the sport was not abridged to facilitate betting, purchasing players. The over reach of BCCI in stifling competition in this format of he game should have confirmed to any sportsman or any honest administrator or any spectator who knows the finer points of the game to love it, the greed, the rapacity of the BCCI as a body that acquiesced to the degradation. The humbling of Kapil Dev and removal of Mohiinder Amarnath from office were high-handed and dictatorial. Indian “High” Society is lost in the pursuit of money and even in halcyon days of cricket the money bags sitting in the high-priced enclosures of CCI, Bombay Gymkhana etc. were openly betting on the performance of a player or the result of the match. The Twenty-Twenty game invented by Lalit Modi offered the best scope for these “punters” and naturally the trickle down “Economics” worked its way and made betting the raison d’ etre for the game. Has anyone ever promoted a shortened version of tennis with “Tie Breaks” only? There have been instances where players have been accused of “Tanking” but were not substantiated. Mr. Srinivasan must go as did the Railway Minister did when a close relative was accused. Whether he was dropped by the PM is not the issue and it is for the Board members and the State Administrators to act. It may not absolve them of their past but at least will redeem them to an extent, The Twenty-Twenty format must be scrapped. The Administrators are bound to claim that they are as innocent as newborns, but thee newborns must have been in gestation for long years and heard much; like Abhimanyu in the Mahabharata!!! Lalit Modi must be laughing to his heart’s content

from:  Ceeoren
Posted on: May 26, 2013 at 06:00 IST
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