Ten questions for N Srinivasan
On Sunday, BCCI president N Srinivasan addressed a press conference in Kolkata. It was two days after his son-in-law and Chennai Super Kings official Gurunath Meiyappan had been arrested on charges of betting, and as expected a majority of the questions related to Gurunath, his role in the franchise and Srinivasan's role in the matter at large. He answered some questions, evaded a few - raising further questions - and left when there were yet others to be asked.
Here are ten questions ESPNcricinfo has for the BCCI president. It is unlikely he will answer them but they might help him, and his colleagues at the BCCI, understand why cricket fans across India are concerned by recent events.
1. If Gurunath's sole qualification to sit in the dugout was him being "enthusiastic", what does that say about the IPL's security system, about its workings at the highest levels? How did it entitle him access to the innermost circles of the IPL - to the accreditation reserved for IPL owners, to a seat at the auction table, to a place at the IPL workshop for owners? If he was not an owner of the Super Kings, how and why did India Cements allow him owner privileges? And was the IPL not remiss in its duty in checking his antecedents given the security risks involved?
2. Gurunath is your son-in-law, he was a senior official of a team owned by a company of which you are managing director. He is now in jail on charges of betting on IPL matches and has been suspended from all involvement with cricket, especially the Chennai Super Kings. Does your close association with him not in any way tarnish the reputation of the BCCI and undermine your position there? To put it in another way: What would the IPL do had this happened with another franchise, where the owner's relative ran the team and was then arrested on betting charges? Would the franchise owner and/or the team not be sanctioned?
3. You mentioned in your statement that the "media had commented on clause 11.3 of the franchise agreement and whether Mr Gurunath is an owner of the franchise". You repeatedly pointed out that the inquiry commission will have to find that out. Are you saying you do not know who the owner of the franchise is?
4. Last Saturday, in a television interview, you condemned the three arrested cricketers in the harshest terms. You called them "dirty cricketers" for whom "no punishment is too little." "I acknowledge the fact that three cricketers have done this", you said. Today, you did not choose to talk about your son-in-law, arrested and in the lock-up, in the same words. All you did was try and distance yourself from him. No condemnation, no strong words. Can you explain this difference in treatment?
5. A related question: Your statements in that interview suggested the problem was limited to three cricketers, who were the "bad eggs". "Just three people have done something wrong. It doesn't mean the whole IPL is bad." With Gurunath's arrest would you concede that the problem is wider and deeper, that corruption in Indian cricket is a bigger problem than you were initially willing to admit?
6. You have blamed the media for carrying out a trial but the media has given you every chance to speak, and carried your statements. In fact the media is willing to interview any BCCI or IPL official on this issue but no one is willing to talk on record. Could you tell us, for example, why the IPL chairman has not held a single press conference since the first arrests were made on May 16?
7. Why does the commission of inquiry need any BCCI representation? Given the tangled web of relations here, would not an independent commission, solely comprising non-BCCI functionaries and those not on its payrolls, be a better choice and more credible in the public eye? Also, given that the inquiry into Lalit Modi's alleged trangressions is not yet completed three years after he was sacked or he resigned, what assurance can you give us that there will be a speedy resolution?
8. On the issue of credibility - In your last six years at the BCCI, as secretary and now president, much of the IPL's workings and practices have been the matter of messy dispute - the conflict of interest issue in the Supreme Court, various foreign-exchange violations, the case against Lalit Modi, the case in the Competitions Commission of India (which the BCCI lost), the cases against two current franchises, the double exit of Sahara. Is this not a reflection of shoddy administration? Had this happened in India Cements, wouldn't heads have rolled at the top?
9. You have said that no member of the BCCI has asked for your resignation and hence the board is unified. What would be your response to Mr IS Bindra, president of the Punjab Cricket Association, a former president of the BCCI and arguably the senior most cricket administrator in the country, when he asks for your immediate resignation? On Saturday, his exact words were: "I demand that he should step down from the BCCI President's position forthwith and not cause anymore damage to Indian cricket." He is not a fugitive or a member of the media or someone with legal history against you; he is a current member of the BCCI. His statement is clear and unambiguous. Your response?
10. What is your role in the running of Chennai Super Kings? Have you ever had any direct or indirect administrative dealings with the franchise, or with its officials, coaching staff and players? Did you ever hand out bonuses or join the celebrations or perform any of the other sundry duties a team owner would perform?