The committee headed by former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha has not disappointed cricket fans who favour a thorough overhaul of cricket administration in the country. Under intense judicial scrutiny ever since the betting scandal hit the Indian Premier League in 2013, the Board of Control for Cricket in India has been seen by many as a cosy club of individuals who treat the various regional units as part of their personal fiefdom. The >BCCI suffered from a serious credibility deficit as cricket-lovers were convinced that the businessmen and politicians who run the cash-rich body in an opaque manner were not working entirely in the game’s interest. The Supreme Court appointed the Lodha committee last year to suggest ways to rid cricket administration of its many obvious ills, such as lack of transparency and accountability. The >panel has mooted sweeping reforms in the board’s structure and functioning. The proposed measures could radically alter the way the BCCI functions as well as vastly improve its public image and impart much-needed credibility: restricted tenures, bar on holding more than one office at a time, limits on terms, cooling-off periods between the holding of one office and another, and steps to prevent the sort of conflict of interest that was brazenly in view for many years. One significant suggestion is that government servants and ministers be kept out of cricket administration. Even if the political class as a whole is not barred, it will at least prevent influential politicians in government eyeing the spoils of office in cricket administration.
The report has two major suggestions related to public policy. One is the >radical idea of legalising betting in cricket . Betting cast a dark shadow on the IPL and led to two franchises being suspended. Many will welcome such legalisation as that will bring in an element of regulation and monitoring. Its implementation, however, will hinge on suitable local legislation across the country. The >BCCI will have to ensure strict adherence to the condition that players, managers, officials or anyone associated with cricket are not allowed to participate in betting. Another idea is that the BCCI — which the Supreme Court held last year to be a body discharging a public function — be brought under the ambit of the Right to Information Act. It does sound attractive. However, it will both require legislative change and a balancing rule that unnecessary queries are not directed towards decisions made by captains and selectors of the national and domestic teams. It is not difficult to guess that the BCCI would prefer the report to be non-binding and that it would contest some of the recommendations before the Supreme Court. A restructured cricket board and an equitable system of voting by and in all its affiliated units will surely be in the game’s interest. What ultimately matters is that cricket should not suffer because of whimsical individuals holding on to key posts in the administration and working to cover up instead of preventing unsavoury developments.