State associations seek more time to study Lodha report
The BCCI's next course of action in response to the Lodha Committee's report is expected to be delayed as its state units have sought more time to discuss the recommendations. A BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo that president Shashank Manohar had informally suggested convening a special general meeting - effectively the board's first official reaction to the report - on February 15, but it is all but ruled out as an SGM requires a 21-day notice period.
It is understood that the BCCI's legal committee, headed by PS Raman and comprising Abhay Apte and DVVS Somayajulu, is slated to meet on February 7, but with the state associations unlikely to put forth any concrete suggestions by then very little is expected to come out of the meeting. The legal committee had earlier met with Manohar and Thakur on January 17, but a source privy to the meeting said it was "inconclusive."
"It was agreed at the meeting that there were issues that needed rectifying, and that we needed state associations to come on board," the source said. He added the BCCI agreed with the Lodha Committee's observations on transparency, proper upkeep of accounts and the need for election officers and an Ombudsman. "But there are other issues that needed to be discussed threadbare, and that's why it is a time-consuming process. The president [Manohar] is very keen to resolve it, but at the same time there are logistical difficulties."
After the report was made public on January 4, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur had asked state associations to convene their internal meetings and discuss the recommendations before January 31, but most of them have pointed out that a document of such wide scope and serious implications couldn't be rushed. "Studying the report is at least a three-month job, if you aren't doing anything else that is," the BCCI official said. "We need to time to study, internalise and discuss without bias before adopting or rejecting it in toto, or adopting parts of it."
Some units like the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association have already conducted a meeting of its executive committee, but have given its members more time to present their thoughts on the recommendations. Mumbai Cricket Association, among the first state bodies to react to the report, said it would accept the recommendations "made for transparency and ethics," but has subsequently not discussed it at its AGM recently.
Officials of the MCA and Hyderabad Cricket Association have spoken of the need to have their legal experts study the report. "We need a good lawyer to go through it," HCA secretary John Manoj said. "I have already informally asked Anurag Thakur for more time. We are having our EC [Executive Committee] meeting [today], and after that we will formally write to the secretary tomorrow requesting for a time of 30 to 45 days." Other associations which haven't made formal requests are expected to follow suit in the coming days.
Rajesh Verma, secretary of the Jharkhand State Cricket Association, attributed a busy domestic schedule as another reason for the delay. "This is the time when all the tournaments are at their peak. There are zonal tournaments till the 31st in Ranchi," he said. "We are also hosting the Sri Lanka women's team for an ODI and T20 series, so we will form our own ideas and collectively look at the report soon."
However, Aditya Verma, secretary of Cricket Association of Bihar and the petitioner in the IPL spot-fixing case, has contended that the BCCI was deliberately trying to drag its feet on the issue. "Surely they are delaying it," he said. "At present, why would BCCI want to implement these recommendations with the interests of many of its members at stake?"
Verma has filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking full implementation of the Lodha Committee report. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and Justice R Banumathi has agreed to hear the plea.
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo