BCCI after Shashank Manohar

Shashank Manohar’s resignation as the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India has come at an inopportune moment for the sport in this country. Conversely, his re-election as the chairman of the International Cricket Council is a fillip to the game’s apex body. In his recent stint at the ICC, Mr. Manohar helped curb the disproportionate powers and profit of the so-called “big three”, India, Australia and England, an initiative that has been insufficiently lauded. And on his watch, the BCCI has been able to recover a semblance of equilibrium after its credibility had been steadily eroded since 2013. Beginning with controversies drawing from conflicts of interest in the Indian Premier League, the BCCI had come under a gathering cloud. The board’s functioning eventually came to be scrutinised by the Supreme Court, which has made some extraordinary interventions. In fact, recommendations on a clean-up by the court-appointed Lodha panel are still being heard in the Supreme Court. It is not clear whether Mr. Manohar chose to leave the BCCI on account of his inability to adequately tide over the Lodha storm — or whether he simply saw it as a prerequisite for election as the ICC’s first independent chairman. Till now he had been serving in the ICC post as the BCCI’s nominee. New rules, in the framing of which he played a role, stipulate that nominees not be attached to any board.

Now that he has been elected as chairman of the ICC on Thursday, Mr. Manohar’s fresh stint will be closely watched. Freed from his moorings at the BCCI, will he bring some coherence to the administration of international cricket, particularly to its calendar? Post-IPL, international cricket is being played basically to the dictates of the game’s most profitable territories — read India, Australia and England. Will he, for instance, revive the Future Tours Programme that gave all ICC full members assurance of matches with each other? Will he check the BCCI’s arbitrariness in forcing its agenda on other boards? Meanwhile, back at the BCCI, different lobbies are at work to swing the numbers to their own advantage. Whoever steps into Mr. Manohar’s shoes will first have to contend with the Lodha panel’s wide-ranging recommendations. These include an age cap of 70 years for office-bearers, a representative of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India to oversee financial transactions, withdrawal of full membership to the Cricket Club of India and Railways (among others), induction of the northeastern States, and the removal of BCCI office-bearers from the IPL Governing Council. Mr. Manohar worked towards implementing some of the suggestions but much more needs to be done. If the Supreme Court’s unerring gaze is focussed on the BCCI, it only has itself to blame. The top item on the next board president’s agenda has to be to avert a slide back to the BCCI’s bad old ways and reverse the impression that it is an opaque, old boys’ club.

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