Sunday, May 15, 2005

BCCI, quo vadis?

The turn of the last century was a tumultuous period in Indian cricket. A cursory glance of the headlines on Cricinfo seems to corroborate this view. In February 2000, The Indian team returned from a drubbing at the hands of Australia in Australia, a tour that was as controversial off the field as it was one sided on it. The tussle between the selectors and the team management in Australia began with a widely reported statement from Board Secretary J.Y.Lele that the team was going be whitewashed. Then Nayan Mongia was recalled and sent to Australia to cover for Saba Karim and was publicly ignored by Kapil Dev and Tendulkar who stated on record that they had not wanted Mongia in Australia. These off the field issues certainly did not help the team, which was beaten badly.

Almost immediately after the team?s return home, in Feb-Mar 2000, a South African team led by (the late) Hansie Cronje landed in India to play 2 Tests and 5 ODI's. The selectors seemed to take another step backward by including Azhar in the test squad, a move that surprised everyone. As a result, even before the series started, Sachin, who apparently did not think too much of Azhar and who had been captain in Australia announced he was relinquishing the captaincy after the 2 Test series. But the series that started in such a sour note ended with India being whitewashed in a home Test series at home for the first time.

It was in such strained circumstances that Shantanu Sharma, a lawyer and Rahul Mehra, a businessman decided to file a PIL on April 20, 2000 against the BCCI in a New Delhi high court. The PIL charged the BCCI with abandonment of any efforts for the growth and betterment of cricket in India. An Outlook article from last October mentions that the two petitioners spent close to 3 months studying accounting records from the BCCI (how did they manage to get access to those records?) with the help of a ?leading economist?, not to mention Prem Panicker, to figure out what was going on in the BCCI. And Outlook did a cover story on what they discovered. It makes for quite an interesting reading!

The BCCI hired a hot shot legal team comprising of a virtual who?s who of Indian legal eagles ? Kapil Sibal among them. They argued that the PIL was not ?maintainable? since the BCCI was registered under an obscure act (Tamil Nadu's Society Registration Act of 1860) as a private society, making it answerable only to the 31 state associations and not to the public! So then first, the court had to rule whether the incredulous claim was valid or not, according to the laws of the land.

The BCCI, then, in an apparent display of excellent (but anachronistic) foresightedness announced that it had drafted a 27 page Vision Statement for Indian Cricket that it submitted to the (then) Sports Minister, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa in New Delhi in August 2000. A closer look however revealed that the vision statement was actually a PowerPoint presentation containing 27 slides containing 5 or 6 bullets each, totally comprising of somewhere close to 1700 words (which I found by using the word count tool in MS Word). It is interesting to note that, in comparison, my recent post titled Weekend Chronicles had exactly 1000 words (the post title and my sign off included)! Either I am very thorough or the drafter of the vision statement was gifted with extreme conciseness. Sadly the former seems to be more plausible, once you actually go through the whole vision statement.

Soon Rediff did their own version of the vision statement that it (i.e Rediff, in BCCI garb) said would be reviewed by "a broad-based panel of experts, comprising of cricketers of standing and repute, management and financial experts, for comments, criticism and suggestions, which will then be incorporated into the final draft. Which, in turn, will then become the cornerstone of a new cricketing future for India".

However, after that the activities get murky. After practically hearing nothing for a couple of years, the next thing I heard was that, in the midst of the telecast rights imbroglio last year (before the Australia series), Zee TV had gone to court, contending that BCCI, being a public body cannot act arbitrarily. This time, the BCCI while giving the same argument as the previous case, also added that the Saurav Ganguly led team was actually representing the BCCI and not India as a country. This theory was pooh poohed by the court which ultimately said that the team was actually representing India, since the Indian colors and the Tricolor were prominently displayed in uniforms and gear. This judgment was in October 2004 (as reported on Outlook).

The original PIL was in the back of my mind for a long time, but of late my thought has been that, with the slow pace of the Indian judicial system, it has almost been abandoned or silently dismissed! So it comes as a pleasant surprise that while the case has actually been proceeding slowly, it has certainly not been dismissed. Rediff reported a couple of days ago (as my previous post says) that Rahul Mehra and Shantanu Sharma, the original petitioners have been asked to submit by May 25, "a wish list of what, in their opinion, the BCCI should do to clean up its functioning". The court has also ruled that the BCCI has to respond constructively to every suggestions from the petitioners.

But before we jump up and down, it has to be understood that this is but a small victory ? a minor battle won in a great war that still hinges on the balance. It remains to be seen how Mehra and Sharma respond. Given their tenacity, I think they would already have something ready. So, let's watch everything carefully and hope for the best.

The media seems to be watching the events closely. As Amit Varma told me, Rediff has been doing an awesome job (most of the links here are from there) of publicizing this issue, though I feel that there have been lot of gaps chronologically. But ultimately, we, as fans can also put forth suggestions. Last October, during the height of the telecast rights controversy, Amit raised a number of valid questions in this regard and pointed out some possible solutions, on his 23 Yards blog on Cricinfo. Now, Rediff has asked for suggestions from its readers.

Since I already have a platform to voice mine on, I am going to go ahead and give my take on this issue right here. But I don't think it will be anything new. So in that case, if the possible solutions are right in front of our eyes, why are these solutions being ignored?

I think I have rambled enough on this post. I will stop now and continue later after collecting my thoughts.

(To be continued...)


VC said...

aNTi - sooper recap!!!
let's see what (if any) good comes of the PIL....
meanwhile...keep blogging away.

Anonymous said...

Mudiyaadhu la ..without writing about cricket:)

Will read it from work tommorrow.


anantha said...

VC: Thanks! Keep visiting and more importantly, pls do leave comments!

Prabhu: Amam da.. Idhu romba naala silent a irundha issue... pesama irruka mudila!

Anonymous said...

Easy solution :

1. Kill dalmiya
2. Kill him again to make sure he is really dead.
3. Kick out ganguly

This will partly solve the problem. After which BCCI should be taken over by the Indian Army for 15 years.

Infact, there should be a military coup in India so that there is no democracy for the next 20 years. The whole fkn system should be cleansed.
Again, when the whole country functions that way why blame BCCI alone ??

Given than none of the above can happen..all that we could do is express all our anger in this blog !


anantha said...

Prabhu: What anger! Damn that rap music!

Prabha said...

Hi anti!!
first time here..Nice blog..
I like the way u write anti!

anantha said...

Prabha: Thanks :)

gvenum said...

I was told(actaully article by Harsha Bhogle I guess) that when a priavte organization apporached with the idea similar to NBA/NFL/MLB using the states and cities, it was pooh pahed by BCCI headed by Dalmiya, expecting dilution of its powe/money which i thought was stupid. Cricket got so much potential in India, and it would create thousands of jobs and generate revenue. How come BCCI(which is a bunch of jokers) has so much control over cricket in India.

anantha said...

ya.. ultimately all these "jokers" get a lot of stuff done for themselves using the BCCI name. I mean, it has to be that way. Cos they dont seem to have the "love of the game" and certainly don't seem to know what is going on!

thennavan said...

Anti, what happened to the other post (in which I had also commented), the Gross+Eerie one? :-)

anantha said...

I wanted to get a discussion going on this post! so I removed the other one for the time being. Aana..Edhuvum nadakara maadhiri therla....

GratisGab said...

Anti - Move on already! No cricket please :)

anantha said...

Sorry Gabby, the next one on cricket is coming up...! :P

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Web Cric said...

Yes you are right The original PIL was in the back of my mind for a long time, but of late my thought has been that, with the slow pace of the Indian judicial system, it has almost been abandoned or silently dismissed! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Webcric is cricket based website