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Anand Vasu in Kolkata
November 30, 2005
The clean sweep by the Sharad Pawar group has left several people wondering what the future may hold. The manner in which Pawar and his team won, overwhelmingly and with support from members of all zones, has meant that they are in a strong position to get stuck into the tasks on hand and get cracking, addressing issues that need urgent looking at.
Pawar has listed the development of infrastructure, the deployment of funds currently being held in bank accounts, the appointment of a media committee, and professionalisation of the board as the broad areas that his team will be looking to work on in the near future. But, there are several things that need attention, and his team will be forced to sort them out.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has incurred serious losses in the recent past thanks to the impasse regarding television rights. What began as a fight between ESPN-Star Sports and Zee TV and graduated into Jagmohan Dalmiya and the likes of N Srinivasan playing favourites with one company or the other has ended in a slew of court cases. The matter is unresolved and the temporary arrangement of Doordarshan being given the rights on a series to series basis has cost the board plenty. It's no secret that Dalmiya wanted ESPN-Star Sports to bag the rights. Some people suggest that Pawar will blindly do the opposite. This seems unlikely, and yet the matter needs to be resolved as soon as the court cases surrounding it are resolved.
The Indian team's longstanding contract with Sahara has already expired. Because of the turmoil and uncertainty prevailing thanks to the board elections, no long-term sponsor was sought, and Sahara continue to sponsor the team - till the Sri Lanka series. But this ad-hoc arrangement cannot go on for long, for a chunk of the players' payments come from the money they are paid to wear the sponsor's logo on their playing shirts. In the long run, the players will lose out if a stable sponsor is not found, if Sahara fail to enter into a long-term contract.
It has suited Jagmohan Dalmiya and his group to keep the board's constitution as it is, with all its anamolies and loopholes. No-one was more adept at exploiting the board's constitution to manipulate conditions better than Dalmiya. But the Pawar group, keen on securing their position in the board, have made it clear that they aim to resolve the outstanding issues with the constitution, especially those relevant to election procedures. The Pawar group will work quickly to straighten out these issues, taking off from the recommendations made by TS Krishna Murthy, the court-appointed observer for the last elections.
India's players received central contracts for the first time last year. Now the time has come to take a look at how the process went, make the necessary changes, and hand out contracts to a fresh list of cricketers. The board president, chairman of selectors, secretary and coach and have to sit down and finalise the list of cricketers who would get contracts, in the relevant categories.
From the outside, it is tough to say how Pawar will go about handling these issues. In the Mumbai Cricket Association Pawar has stayed as far away as possible from specific technical aspects of the game. He has put people in key places to handle these things, and formed committees to handle the matters of day-to-day governance. Whether he will be able to do the same at the national level, all the while being pulled in different directions by his troops, remains to be seen.
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