There were strong undercurrents of resentment and dismay among a few senior cricket administrators soon after Shashank Manohar announced his resignation as the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) two days ago. They had supported him giving carte blanche powers to bring in reforms in administration and elected him president of the BCCI last October, for the remainder of a three-year term, following the death of Jagmohan Dalmiya.
The bitterness had barely diminished when the official announcement came on Thursday afternoon that the 58-year-old Manohar was elected unopposed as the first independent chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC) for an initial period of two years from Thursday (May 12). Although he will assume charge straightaway, he will formally preside over meetings at the ICC’s annual conference at Edinburgh, Scotland in June. Manohar was the unanimous choice of the ICC’s 13-member executive board; even England and Wales Cricket Board’s Giles Clarke — who was supposed to succeed India’s N. Srinivasan by a 2014 arrangement, proposed his name.
In the event of he being interested and with the support of the ICC Board of Directors, Manohar can get re-elected as chairman in 2018 and 2020. Bur from now on, Manohar in fact will be the overall ICC boss; the world body has passed a resolution that “With effect from the 2016 Conference close date, the office of president shall lapse.” Pakistan’s Zaheer Abbas is the ICC president now.
The cricket world had seen it coming after he had confided to many of his BCCI colleagues and friends that he will not stay for a minute as the BCCI president the moment the Supreme Court validates the recommendations of the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee’s report on reforms in cricket, either in full or in part.
On a number of occasions he had voiced his objection, off record, to critical parts of the recommendations that he felt interfered with the functioning of a private body registered under the Society’s Act.
While trying to rationalise the BCCI’s point of view through a senior constitutional lawyer in K.K. Venugopal, he also encouraged member units to file intervention applications stating why it would be difficult to implement most of the recommendations.
After getting elected as BCCI president at a special general body meeting last year, he got down to business and promised to introduce reforms and work out an arrangement with the Maharashtra Government on matters related to spot and match fixing and betting. He was able to put in place systems aimed at enhancing the integrity quotient of the BCCI and project it as a good unit.
A handful of members objected to a proposal to appoint independent members outside of the BCCI in the IPL Governing Council.
In fact he had taken consent from banker Dr. Deepak Parikh, retired election commissioner of India S.Y. Quraishi and economish Lord Meghnad Desai.
Some members, without making public statements, also resented his unilateral decision to change the governance structure of the ICC that had vested executive powers with the cricket boards of India, Australia and England and also campaigning to revise the distribution pattern of the ICC’s annual revenue that made a high provision to the BCCI. But Manohar had the last word on the matter.
Once chosen as the BCCI’s nominee in the ICC’s powerful 13-member board, Manohar found out during his first visit to Dubai that positions and scenarios in the ICC created conflict of interest situations and hence got the ICC to amend its articles of association to make the chairman independent of any member.
The amended rule now says that “To be eligible for election as chairman, such person must be either a current or former director and that he may not may not (i) hold any office under, or perform any executive or operational duties for, any cricket authority; or (ii) hold any office under, or perform any executive or operational duties for, any State, association or member (or similar) of any cricket authority.” He met the above requirement by resigning as BCCI president.
Through an ICC press release, Manohar has said: “These are exciting times for international cricket as we are presently carrying out a comprehensive review of the 2014 constitutional amendments which is aimed at not only improving governance structures, but cricket structures as well. The ultimate objective is to grow our sport and engage a whole new generation of fans and I look forward to working with all stakeholders to shape the future of cricket, which has a proud history and rich tradition.”
Talking to The Hindu Manohar said: “Even the Future Tour Programmes (FTP) will be reviewed. We have asked the 95 associate and affiliate members and the ten full members to give their views on all matters. All are equal now.”
The earlier FTP had mandated a five-Test series between India and England at home and away, four-Test series involving India and Australia and India and South Africa for all home and away series. Will this change now?
But what the members would be keen to know is the disbursement of money.
It is his observations on the executive powers given to India, Australia and England and the lop-sided percentage of money allotted to India (22 per cent and an additional 4 per cent) that won him admirers in the ICC.
Six of them went all the way to Nagpur to urge him to become the first independent ICC chairman. It became a reality on Thursday.