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While N Srinivasan's grip over Indian and world cricket is well known, the circle of influence extended deeper into the family after his brother N Ramachandran was elected president of the Indian Olympic Association. In Tehelka, V Krishnaswamy profiles the brothers who now hold the most coveted positions in Indian sport.
Indian sports can be divided into two categories -- cricket and the rest (that means Olympic sports). One brother, 'Srini' held the reins in cricket and 'Rami' was the master of the rest. Under normal circumstances, that would merit a headline by itself: Brothers ruling Indian sport. Alas, not all stories are fairytales.
IPL chief executive Sundar Raman flies under the radar, but he is seen as the mastermind behind BCCI's finances. From inking sponsorship deals, dealing with the media and also negotiating with the respective boards of other countries, Raman's responsibilities are key to the swelling of BCCI's coffers. Anjali Doshi, in Open, explores the rise of a man who was rejected by the Indian Institute of Management, one of the top business schools in the country, but now forms a vital part of a $3.3 billion enterprise
The spotlight over the past few years has been on powerful and seen-to-be-powerful officials like N Srinivasan, Lalit Modi, Sharad Pawar and Jagmohan Dalmiya. But since the exit of Modi, his former boss, in 2010, Raman has been the man taking the key decisions: negotiating and signing off with cricket boards on the T&Cs of bilateral tours, dealing with sponsors, broadcasters and the media to ensure the Board squeezes out every last dollar's worth, and exercising the 21st century right of any self-respecting BCCI official--showing the ICC who is in charge.
The vexed South Africa-India series has given rise to a debate, between two of the game's better-known commentators, on the rights and wrongs. In his column for Star Sports website on September 20, Harsha Bhogle analyses the current predicament of the India-South Africa series and suggests that cricket boards around the world must create a financial system independent of India to ensure their economic stability.
South Africa, for example, can ask themselves why they got into a situation where their cricket economy was so dependent on an external power that is always more likely to do what suits itself first. It is just likely that one of the conclusions will be that it was the easy, lazy option to take. If an Indian tour guaranteed a lot of money, it also meant that you didn't need to create other parallel revenue sources to insure against untoward happenings. And it would seem to me, even if I am looking at it from afar, that other cricket playing countries too therefore need to create such a parallel economy. Again there is a similar situation affecting India. If the US decided they would halve all software and business process outsourcing to India (however unlikely that would be but this is meant to be an illustration), we would be similarly hit. It wouldn't help if Indian companies complained about the big bad bully who was taking away jobs, they would just have to develop other capabilities and find other revenue sources.
In his response to Bhogle's column, Gideon Haigh, writing in his blog in the Australian, retorts that the argument doesn't hold much sway, because the issue concerns cricket boards and the game of cricket itself is dependent on " some rough-and-ready idea of equality".
In his column for Wisden India, Saurabh Somani pays tribute to former BCCI secretary Jaywant Lele, who died on Thursday, and recounts an evening spent with one of Indian cricket's most colourful characters, listening to anecdotes.
Over the course of conversation with Lele, it struck me that his yarns would best be enjoyed with a glass of whiskey, rum or whatever else your chosen poison was, sitting around a fire, and listening. He was a mine of information, he was enthralling, even occasionally amusing, and he forced you to be a good journalist, not reporting verbatim but sifting fact from fiction and getting dates and names right.
South Africa versus India was billed as one of the premier clashes of the 2013 calendar. Now, however, the tour is almost certain to be stunted from the original three Tests, if not abandoned altogether as the respective boards are locked in a power struggle. If the tour is scrapped, not only will the fans be deprived of some great cricket, Cricket South Africa's finances will also take a big hit. Every domestic cricketer could end up losing R160,000, writes Neil Manthorp in Business Day.
In South Africa the percentage of Cricket SA's (CSA's) gross revenue that comes the way of the players is a little under 20%. If India's tour of South Africa at the end of 2013 is severely curtailed, as it now has to be if it is not cancelled altogether, the likely loss of revenue to CSA will be in the region of R200m. Twenty percent of that is R40m, of which 40% goes directly to the domestic players in the six franchises, a sum of about R2.7m. Each franchise has a contracted squad of about 17 players, which breaks down to an average of R160,000 per player.
The BCCI's internal probe regarding the spot-fixing scandal has raised questions about the credibility of the board and the manner in which it conducts the IPL. In his column for the Mint, Ayaz Menon says that, even as legalities and rules fall in a grey area, taking cognizance of public sentiment is an important step for the BCCI, if it has to assure the public that it stands for the benefit of the game.
Recasting the dos and don'ts for administrators, franchise owners, their friends, players, et al in the IPL is an immediate imperative. Appointing an ombudsman and a couple of independent members on the governing council would have great value too. There are just too many loose ends to make for full credibility, as has become evident over the past six years--this could be detrimental to the brand value of the IPL. Taking cognizance of public sentiment would be an even bigger step in the right direction. I am not in favour of cricket coming under the control of the government, but being open to scrutiny under the right to information (RTI) law is not necessarily a bad thing.
With the BCCI suffering a prolonged state of disarray over allegations of corruption that has already forced three of its senior members to quit, P Sainath, rural affairs editor of The Hindu, is not certain all will be rosy even if its president N Srinivasan resigns.
Scrap the BCCI and start afresh. Have a public audit of this body's activities over the past decade. The BCCI is characterised by its contempt for the public interest. By the impunity it could act with, confident of its power, corporate, political and media. Start over. Build and launch a body that is transparent and accountable. A body that runs the Indian team must be accountable to the public and the country in whose name it acts.
Rajdeep Sardesai, "a hardened Mumbaikar" and editor-in-chief of IBN 18 broadcast network, could not bring himself to celebrate Mumbai Indians' triumph in the IPL final last week for one simple reason, as he explains in the Hindustan Times.
Apparently, stringent and lucrative player and commentary contracts are seen to have 'bought' the silence of our icons. Last year, all cricket players, past and present were given hefty cheques as retirement benefits. It was a nice gesture by the board, but one that appears to have been designed to ensure servility. Today, our star cricketers are either players, mentors, brand ambassadors, commentators or selectors: all subject to the BCCI's diktats, each compromised by the relentless desire to be on the gravy train. The few like Bishen Bedi and Kirti Azad who have spoken out are branded permanent angry rebels driven by personal agendas.
Politics and cricket have been an unholy marriage in India for years. An editorial in DNA elaborates on how the former has affected the latter in recent times.
The Hindu paints a telling picture of the state of Indian cricket's administrative body.
The Indian Premier League has never been short of off-field drama. Osman Samiuddin, in The National, dissects the tournament from the backdrop of the Gurunath controversies, that has BCCI president N Srinivasan's son-in-law right in the middle of it, and the efforts made by India Cements, owner of Chennai Super Kings and helmed by Srinivasan, to distance themselves further.
This is not a league. This is not even a random collection of franchises (some of which come and go, and some which come, go, come and go again) playing a sport. There are no real laws, codes or regulations to adhere to. This is an ad-hoc, money-making enterprise, one in which the power brokers are not bound together by anything other than the desire to perpetuate their status quo. This is a cabal, a cartel of the already wealthy getting wealthier and making sure they protect themselves in doing so. Cricket just happens to be a means.
With the IPL facings its toughest credibility test, the Indian Express' editor-in-chief, Shekhar Gupta, highlights the flaws in the governance of the tournament, including the conflicts of interest that border on corporate fraud and "cricketing permissiveness". The controversy, he says, has presented the BCCI with a critical choice where they can either make the IPL a serious cricket league or reduce it to a mere spectacle.
Some controversy hits the IPL every year. But this controversy is by far the most crippling. Because this has put the credibility of the very league in doubt. It has brought criticism and apprehension to the minds of all kinds of stakeholders, from politicians, who want to nationalise the BCCI or ban the IPL, to Pepsi, which may want out as its lead sponsor. This time, the BCCI cannot blame a mere individual and hang him. Nor can it rely on the old cynical and lazy notion that cash will solve all problems. It has to clean up not just the IPL, but itself, make a promise of transparency and offer itself voluntarily to some kind of an impartial, outside oversight, if not RTI
Since its inception, the Indian Premier League has gained recognition not just for the talent on display but for the role it has played in sustaining the sport around the world. Given this stature, the recent controversy surrounding the participation of Sri Lankan players and the IPL's response to the issue may have done the game a disservice, writes Mini Kapoor in the Indian Express.
The roll call of names is important because this expedient measure is, in the end, about them. It is not based on some abstract principle of not playing cricket with another country, which, highly debatable though it may have been, would have moved the discussion away from the field of play. As the state of play currently stands, Sri Lankan players are very much part of the IPL, they will play at other venues, and it is only on account of presumed security concerns in Tamil Nadu that they will not be allowed to alight on the Chennai ground. This move is, then, clearly not about using sport as an element of coercive diplomacy to pressure the Sri Lankan government to deliver on devolution, reconciliation and rehabilitation. It is only targeted at a bunch of individuals to make some point -- which is what exactly?