BCCI Elections: Old Administrators Out But Their Kin Are Incoming

Will the upcoming BCCI elections end up becoming a sham?

5 min read
Will the upcoming BCCI Elections end up becoming a sham?

So we are back to square one.

The whole purpose of the grand Justice Lodha reforms was to change the way cricket and indeed sport is run in India.

Instead, four years later, what we have got from the whole process, is more of the same.

Family Connections

The whole point of restricting those above the age of 70 and those who had completed a certain period of time with the board from holding a post in the BCCI was to weed out the old guard within Indian cricket. But instead what we have got now is the kith and kin of the old guard putting their names forward and indeed getting elected in positions of strength.

Jaywant Lele, the late BCCI secretary’s son, has taken over as the Secretary in Baroda. Chirayu Amin, a former IPL chairman and BCCI vice-president, will have his son taking over as president in the same city. Elsewhere, long-time Himachal cricket supremo Anurag Thakur, also current Minister of State for Finance, will see his brother taking over from him. Down south, N Srinivasan’s daughter Rupa, wife of the now banned Gurunath Meiyappan, is now the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) president. Similarly, Niranjan Shah, the Saurashtra strongman who wielded power in his region for 43 years, will see his son Jaydev, also a former Ranji captain taking over as president.

The list is endless and will go on and on. The Committee of Administrators (CoA) will now have to make sense of the different elections in the state associations before they decide on who is valid and who is not.

The whole scheme proposed by Justice Lodha in his recommendations have been watered down over four years thanks mainly to the stubborn attitude of the old guard who were not willing to cede any ground.

Proposed Change of Power Centre

The way Justice Lodha envisaged Indian cricket to be run was that a professional management comprising a CEO and a team of qualified professionals will run the sport, overseen by the elected members.

In the whole process, professionals were to be the face of the organisation, whereas the elected members were to be the Board of Directors looking at how they function.

This would have dramatically altered the power equation in Indian cricket today and indeed Indian sport tomorrow from the elected ‘sporting political class’ to the professional domain experts. This for a nation used to running a sport in a certain way was always going to be unacceptable.

Justice Lodha and his team had spent a lot of time studying how sports organisations especially in cricket are run the world over. This system of elections of members does not exist in most of the first world countries.

How Other Boards Function

In fact countries like Australia and New Zealand have moved to an independent board of directors who have no representatives from any of the states. The whole point of this exercise is to ensure that the states have no say in the final decision of the Board of Cricket Australia, because sometimes that can limit how the sport is run. In New Zealand too the same applies.

So we have the best corporate minds in Australia and New Zealand finding a place in the cricket boards of their countries, irrespective of their genders. Some old cricketers too like Michael Kasprowicz in Australia or Geoff Allott and Martin Snedden in New Zealand find a place not because they played the sport but because of their corporate backgrounds.

Australia and New Zealand are probably too far ahead in terms of where the sporting administration has progressed. England too has a strong professional management led by a CEO and a strong management team of professionals. The Board in England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is also formed of best minds from all walks of life, including the counties.

A Lost Chance?

In India cricket had an unique opportunity of achieving the same by setting a benchmark for other sports. The stage could then have been set for other sports to follow suit. Instead we have been stuck in what was junked by the rest of the world in the 1980s, election of office-bearers etc.

Quite clearly we are stuck running any 21st century sport in India, leave alone cricket, in a way that the world ran around 40 years ago. The world has moved on, but we in India are refusing to move on.

After much resistance from India, as expected, the International Cricket Council (ICC) too voted for an independent female director to be inducted into their Board. So in came Indra Nooyi from Pepsi. For very long the board of ICC ran as per the requirements of their own. The Board of ICC is essentially made up of heads of member boards, so all thought about their own country and not about the sport as a whole. This was sought to be changed, but was resisted by who else, but India.

Even in Pakistan the management staff is the face of the organisation. The elected members form part of the Board of Governors, acting as Board of Directors. But in Pakistan the management can change every five years depending on the change in government as the prime minister is the patron in chief. In Sri Lanka and Bangladesh too the management staff runs the show, but politics can never be far behind in the sub-continent.

Modern sport needs to be run like a successful corporate organisation with targets to drive the process and domain experts to manage it. We in India are still not exposed to all this and are clutching at straws by asking for sportspersons to run the show rather than the most qualified professional.

Instead you will have a Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) being squeamish about admitting that they demanded money for rendering a service. There is no shame in demanding money for rendering service. But in India asking for money for delivering a service in cricket or any sport is a crime. Hence cricketers are wary of taking up full-time jobs with BCCI, because they don’t know how long it will last. Indeed you will have former players donning ten different hats in their ‘personal’ capacity, because they want to keep everything alive. The ex-Indian cricketer too loves the old system because their superstar status stays alive. They can continue unabated in all their roles and claim no conflict at all. Instead of doing one thing at a time.

Indian sport needs to be freed from the clutches of the old guard which has engulfed it for close to seven decades. A New India needs to emerge from it, with professionals at the helm of affairs to run the sport. That’s the only way you can hold people accountable.

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