April 25, 2010

BCCI bitten by its own buzzword

The BCCI under Sharad Pawar's presidency has made a mockery of the vision document it released in 2005

In December 2005, the BCCI circulated a vision paper titled "The cricket board in the 21st century". It covered topics such as "quality of grounds and pitches", "infrastructure development", "marketing and merchandising" and "National Cricket Academy". Though presumably shelved immediately after and forgotten since, it was a bold statement of intent, one befitting the occasion - the first working committee meeting under Sharad Pawar's presidency in an entity that was already assuming its current leviathan proportions.

The most important point, though, was the preamble. Written in the aftermath of the board election that ended the much-vilified Jagmohan Dalmiya regime and began the Pawar era, it spoke of the fans' expectations of the new dispensation whose buzzword, it said, would be transparency. Just over four years later those expectations have been rudely shattered, and Pawar and his associates stand discredited. The future looks bleak but if Shashank Manohar - who finally has a chance to run Indian cricket as his own man - needs a plan to revive the board's credibility, he need look no further than that eerily prescient vision document.

Read now, though, that preamble is a mockery of whatever Sharad Pawar and his colleagues have done in their time at the helm. In fact their prescription for the board in 2005 is needed, now more than ever, in the wake of the worst scandal by far to engulf Indian cricket. The saddest part of the vision document is that, though four years old, it has not dated, instead it has become even more relevant.

"Some of the happenings during the last few years have grievously dented the board's image," the vision document says. "Our first priority should be to restore its pristine glory by creating confidence among the followers of the game that the board is indeed a sincere custodian of Indian cricket. Frankly the question being asked is, as the richest body in world cricket, has it fulfilled its obligations towards the players and paying public? For that we all need to introspect and touch our hearts before saying 'yes, we have'."

That time for introspection has come, with the Board's credibility at an all-time low - and with the pendulum of public sympathy swinging dangerously, if improbably, towards Modi. Perhaps the only fact in this whole stew of allegations is that not a single charge against Modi has yet been proved - he is as innocent or as guilty as anyone else. Public perception shouldn't matter too much to the BCCI - things would not have come to such a pass if it did - but it does matter to a senior politician like Pawar, who faces elections in his home state of Maharashtra next year. Pawar also takes up the ICC presidency two months from now and his immense clout would be undermined by any mud sticking to him.

Over the past few days there has been much talk of who could set this right - the government, the judiciary, a collegium of corporate leaders. The Army, that go-to for all India's problems, has presumably been ruled out because of a conflict of interest - there's a Services team in the Ranji Trophy. None of that will work, though, without corrective measures from within.

Can it be done? Back to that preamble: "As a premier national sports body, the board had been a model for all others sports organizations, but of late it has invited scorn from the public. In a fast paced world driven by market forces, we have to gear up to meet the ever increasing challenges and aspirations of a cricket-crazy nation. When the country is getting excited about the Right to Information Act, the Board is being ridiculed for its lack of transparency. Unless we believe in the free flow of information, particularly when millions and millions of rupees are involved, we are bound to be misunderstood. There can't be a better start to the new-look board than resolve that everything we do from hereon will be transparent and in the game's and public interest, be it election or allotting television rights or the team selection.

"The buzz word should be "Transparency.'"

Later, the document deals specifically with the issue of television rights. "The Board wants to end speculation over the selling of television rights. It would like to come up with a transparent method which will not only benefit the Board financially but will also help in restoring its image as an organisation which has become the epicenter of international cricket."

No one will hold the BCCI to every word in this document. But if they can, over the next few days, weeks and months, stay true to this buzzword, there may be some chance of the mess being resolved. Otherwise let's hope they find the world's biggest carpet under which to shovel the dirt.

Jayaditya Gupta is executive editor of Cricinfo in India

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Alan on April 27, 2010, 6:52 GMT

    Congratulations Mr Jayaditya on a very well written article. i normally like all your work, but this was especially good. keep up the good work. the BCCI will never be transparent because they are not working with the ICC but are rather working against it! there is no advantage for the BCCI to show what they are doing because we all know they are ruining cricket once and for all!

  • Hitesh on April 27, 2010, 1:02 GMT

    Right now it's only the BCCI. Once Mr. Pawar gets to the helm at the ICC, expect transparency to become a thing of the past. Cricket's headquarters have elected a man with a shady past and present to take over. The same issues on transparency and corruption have been raised in domestic politics as well regarding his honesty. As you said, not one charge against Lalit Modi has been proven as of yet and unless there is no substantial evidence against him, then Mr. Modi has been wrongfully evicted and I would express deep sympathy for him.

  • dilip on April 26, 2010, 23:57 GMT

    Sharad Pawar should concentrate on his portfolio in the central cabinet more seriously and leave cricket management to people more qualified than him. With food inflation at unexpected high levels, his attention (if he takes his job seriously) should be to bring down prices througha series of proactive measures -such as better/effective productivity;increased supplies; improved storage;reduction of food wastage and more efficient PDS etc. However this mundane work does not suit his style! There is far more money and power in the glamorous world of national and international cricket! With his advent Indian cricket has been reduced from a dignified sport to a loud,glitzy entertainment with all its accompanying downsides! RIP cricket!

  • sultan on April 26, 2010, 20:54 GMT

    People may come and people may go..... power of the "POWAR-PLAY" remains unchecked.

  • Sam on April 26, 2010, 18:32 GMT

    The BCCI has been discrediting cricket for sometime. Their power struggle turned to arrogance which then turned to greed. The IPL seems to be just an arm of the BCCI and ICC. None care about Test cricket - too much emphasis is put on too many games and TV revenue.

    The game has been effected beyond anything Hansie Cronje achieved.

    Shame on you IPL and BCCI.

  • kommuri on April 26, 2010, 14:57 GMT

    Amazing jugglery of words with assumption that IPL is fraudulent which isn't proved yet. Little premature stuff. One thing is for sure, the credibility has gone south because of internal conflicts before it has any chance to prove. Just like any form of media, cricinfo had to have a pie at the mud.

  • sunil on April 26, 2010, 13:18 GMT

    Mr. Gupta, the joke is on you for even expecting anything to improve during Mr. Pawar's tenure. If you have followed his career you would have expected this reign of total incompetence and financial irregularities.

  • Pradeep on April 26, 2010, 11:27 GMT

    Because of the huge public interest involved, maybe a special case can be made for applying the Right to Information Act to the BCCI. Even though it is a private body, cricket lies in the public domain and we have a right to KNOW.

  • Vasudevan on April 26, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    We should realize IPL is a private enterprise and business; why there is such a hue and cry about 'transparency'? Except Government's expectations of taxes, it is not anyone's business how a private enterprise is run. The 8 or 10 team owners are investing for return, it is their problem. Whether Modi has overgrown his shoes or not is an irrelevant issue for the public. When the man had the genious to sell 'cricketainment', why should anyone grudge his paycheck? It is up to the investors into IPL to handle matters related to it.

    BCCI may have given its blessings to IPL, and don't forget they did it for the money it brought to BCCI itself. This does not mean BCCI 'owns' IPL. The real owners are the team owners, and BCCI should step back. Otherwise one day BCCI will face the same fate as ICC, having no voice on a sport it is said to control. Who can stop a new private entity getting into the act of running a parallel IPL?

  • Rahul on April 26, 2010, 7:36 GMT

    Agree with @paamkssr here. The entire fight is for control over IPL. Lets not forget that the success of IPL needs to be given to Modi (and probably a very capable team working behind the scenes). Personally, I can't even imagine Sharad Pawar as ICC chief - I am afraid the ICC might also go down the drain now (if it already isn't there). Why can't we have a lot more professionalism here? A fair trial, democratic elections with a much bigger electorate and a constitution for decision making and powers held.

    But alas, no one is listening. Bureaucrats busy with politics and the common man waiting for the WC T20 to start so that he can cheer for India once again. Well, that is important too after all!

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