India news October 10, 2011

Questions raised over Kumble's player agency

ESPNcricinfo staff

Anil Kumble, the former India captain, is at the centre of a controversy over possible conflict-of-interest issues relating to his various roles in cricket administration.

Kumble is currently president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association, head of the National Cricket Academy and is also mentor of the Royal Challengers Bangalore; he also co-owns a talent management firm called Tenvic that has on its books several young players including R Vinay Kumar and S Aravind, both part of the India squad for the forthcoming series against England.

It is the last role that has raised eyebrows. Tenvic - named after Kumble's ten-wicket haul against Pakistan in 1999 - looks after the commercial interests of the players, his partner Vasanth Bharadwaj told the Outlook magazine. "It doesn't make any sense for someone to do the mentoring and someone else to do the commercial handling," he is quoted as saying. That is being seen as an area of conflicted interests, given the potential for Kumble to influence selection in both Karnataka and Royal Challengers sides, and given his role at the NCA, the nursery of Indian cricket.

Kumble did not respond when contacted by ESPNcricinfo but explained his position to Outlook, who first ran the story. "I do not see any conflict of interest here. I am very clear in my mind about this. The important thing is to focus on what you are trying to achieve, and I am trying to do that."

Asked whether it was important to be seen to be above board, he said: "I focus on what has to be done, not on what people might be thinking. The positions with the KSCA and NCA are honorary jobs, and I have to look after myself. At this stage of my career, I have to do that. Otherwise, you would have to become like Gandhi and give up everything."

However, his explanations have not washed with several of his peers. Bishan Singh Bedi, another former spinner and India captain, told Outlook: "I can't believe it, I don't want to believe it. I don't want to sully the image I have of him."

A similar controversy broke out earlier this year, during India's tour of England, when Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, who were part of the ESPN-Star Sports commentary team, were seen in public perception as compromised given that they are also BCCI employees.

A more serious case of conflict of interest is currently being heard by the Supreme Court: it is former president AC Muthiah's petition that the current incumbent, N Srinivasan, cannot both be a BCCI official and the owner of an IPL franchise (his company owns Chennai Super Kings). The Supreme Court had allowed Srinivasan's elevation to the president's position to go ahead last month but said its decision was subject to the outcome of the larger petition.

In September 2008, shortly after the first IPL season, the BCCI had amended clause 6.2.4 of the regulations for players, team officials, umpires and administrators. Before the amendment the clause read: "No administrator shall have, directly or indirectly, any commercial interest in the matches and events conducted by the board." After the change, it read: "No administrator shall have directly or indirectly any commercial interest in any of the events of the BCCI, excluding IPL, Champions League and Twenty20."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 10, 2011, 16:35 GMT

    @ Nampally... "Kumble is having a cake and eating it too".. I think that metaphor should really be retired from the English language.. What the hell are u supposed to do with a cake?? put it in the cabinet and wait for mold to grow?

  • Rakesh on October 10, 2011, 14:32 GMT

    @jmcilhinney - very very well said.

  • Rakesh on October 10, 2011, 14:31 GMT

    @ArjunVS - Kumble would be rich already. What is he talking about looking after himself. Indian cricket pays too well. Just selfishness I presume. Did not expect that from Kumble but if mutli millionaires like SRT can ask for Tax waivers and favors from Govt, can we ecpect anything different from Kumble?

  • Ashok on October 10, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    Kumble says that his roles in the NCA & KSCA are honrary. I presume his roles in the BCR & Talent firm are not honrary. All the positions are interconnected. So he must decide to keep his paid jobs and drop honrary ones in order to stay within the conflict of interest guidelines. This will save him from " living Like Gandhi". Kumble is having a cake and eating it too!.My advise to Kumble is to take up one solid job and do it well instead of getting involved in too many petty jobs and getting smeared with conflict of interest controversy. That is really playing in the"True spirit of the Life game".

  • Samik on October 10, 2011, 12:51 GMT

    @jmcilhinney, I like how elegantly and compactly you defined "Conflict of Interest". I work in a professional services organization and we are always told that not only actual breach of independence (conflict of interest), but even perceived threat is equally important and to be completely avoided. But the ones already starting to criticise him, let's give the man some time to react, after all he has been one of the best servants of Indian cricket for 2 decades.

  • Dummy4 on October 10, 2011, 10:48 GMT

    @Raju_iyer regarding your question 'Can you name one or two State Presidents who in your opinion are doing a better job than Kumble today? 'None of the state presidents today are doing anything worthy for Indian cricket's welfare.they are not interested either.That is why there was a lot of enthusiasm about Kumble's inclusion in KSCA(Srinath's as well).If he merely does better than other state presidents sorry to say but he would be a major disappointment.He just needs to DO NOTHING and abstain from corruption for that!!!!!surley Jumbo can do MMMMMMMUCH better.!!!

  • Deepak on October 10, 2011, 9:38 GMT

    Next Sunil Gavaskar in Making. Good beginning

  • Ramesh on October 10, 2011, 8:41 GMT

    I have always had a high regard for Kumble both as a cricketer and human being. But one cannot deny the fact that a conflict of interest does exist. It is amazing to see that such a Key post as the head of National Cricket Acadamy is an honorary one. No wonder NCA is in such a mess. It should be a paid and professional full time job and it should be someone independent...not the president of any Cricket Association. There must be full time coaches for fast bowlers, batsmen and spinners. One has to accept that Kumble has the right to earn his livlihood. Therefore he could quit the honroray posts to avoid any further conflict of interest.

  • Vishal on October 10, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    Well Well..Mr Kumble. Doesn't look Good this whole thing. I have my highest regard for Kumble, he should not get caught up in state level activities.Its time BCCI appoints him in a much larger role for the betterment of (miserable)India side and make sure that they pay him well and give a long term assisgnment. As for the current situation, there is an obvious conflict of interest, he has to make a choice, he cannot hold on to everything.And if he is appointed in any capacity with BCCI at national level, the same should apply and he should not be involved in any private agency.

  • John on October 10, 2011, 7:06 GMT

    It's preposterous for Kumble to deny that a conflict of interest exists. There being a conflict of interest doesn't say anything about the person or their honesty. It's about a situation. If Kumble has to make a decision between two players, both of whom he has an interest in, then that is a conflict of interest. He may not show any bias in making his decision, but that does not mean that the conflict does not exist. The problem with a conflict of interest is that noone, even the person themselves, can never really be sure what motivated the final decision. That's the issue and that's why such conflicts must be avoided.

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