Vet player agents properly - Mudgal report
A much more stringent approach towards accrediting player agents is one of several recommendations the IPL probe committee, headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal, has made in an exhaustive report on corruption in the league, which it submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday. While the committee had no mandate to punish offenders, it offered a list of suggestions to the BCCI to clean up Indian cricket.
As part of the report's ten recommendations, the committee urged the BCCI to be more 'proactive,' rather than 'reactive,' in its approach to dealing with corruption. It also advised that the players should not be employed in their franchise's group companies, the governance structure should be more inclusive, that there should be interactive sessions between players and former cricket stars, and that the anti-corruption code should be made available in local languages. These measures, the committee said, "may make the game of cricket a cleaner game so as to eliminate the evil of spot and match fixing."
In the immediate aftermath of the corruption scandal exposed by the Delhi and Mumbai Police during the 2013 IPL, the BCCI announced operation clean-up. It was decided that players would need to declare their agents and get them accredited. However, months later, the exercise had not yet commenced.
The Mudgal committee took note of the delay and suggested that one way of vetting agents was to make them take eligibility tests. "Before registering player agents there should be an examination of the agents to confirm their understanding of the rules and regulations of BCCI and IPL," the report said. "Besides this the antecedents of the player agent should also be verified so that dubious elements of society with links to bookies or the underworld are not given a registration as a player agent."
One of the bookies arrested by Delhi Police in their raids last year was Jiju Janardhan, a long-time friend of Sreesanth. Janardhan allegedly posed as Sreesanth's agent and stayed with the player in the Rajasthan Royals team hotel. To prevent bookies from getting close to players, the committee recommended that agents not be allowed to travel with the team and stay in team hotels, "especially when it is in proximity to the date of a match being played by a player who the agent represents."
The committee was also against a player having an ownership stake in a company that managed other players. Last year, India captain MS Dhoni found his name dragged into a conflict-of-interest debate after it was found that he had ownership stake for a short period in Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited, which manages other Indian players Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja.
"Players should not be allowed to own any stakes or interests in player agencies or companies involved with cricket unless such interests are in the nature of sponsorship or endorsements. Such interests should be declared by the player or his agent to the BCCI, within 15 days of such interest accruing. In particular employment of the players in the franchise group companies should be avoided," the report said. Incidentally Dhoni, who is on the Indian Cements corporate board, is one of the few players who is employed by his IPL franchise.
The committee was also critical of having a "foreign instructor" from the ICC's ACSU imparting player education, and was in favour of retired senior officials from the Indian army or police conducting "more interactive meetings in a local language," which would be understood by players easily.
"The BCCI need not spend enormous sums of money on ICC deputed anti-corruption instructors, and reputed retired armed forces and police officers from India should be asked to do it after due training and sensitisation in Indian languages," the report said.
The committee also wanted the BCCI to appoint a dedicated "investigative wing" with autonomous powers. "The investigative wing of the BCCI, should be clearly defined and no person holding office in the BCCI, should have the power to curtail, restrict or define any such investigation," the report said.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo