May 31, 2013

The BCCI must do right by the fans

The board must give assurance that it intends on a complete clean-up of the sordid mess Indian cricket finds itself it, or it won't be long before the government steps in
45

Speaking at a private event to felicitate Mumbai Indians on their victory in the IPL, their coach John Wright, always dignified, always self-effacing, said that teams play for their supporters, therefore it should always be a privilege to play before fans. It is something that everyone in Indian cricket must ask of each other every day. "Are we being fair to our supporters? Are we doing right by our fans?"

It is not an alien question. It is the foundation of every well-run corporation, for it is by being close to their customers that they survive. So, as Indian cricket grapples with issues of legality and even more so, of morality, the first question those in charge must ask is: What is right for the fans who allow us to be who we are?

Over the last eight weeks I have had the privilege of travelling around India watching fans fill stadiums day after day after day. I have never in my life seen an event as openly embraced as the IPL. From a cricketing point of view it is a magnificent tournament; it is tough and thrilling, but now a colossal cloud hangs over it. Three players are in jail, so is a top official of the best team over six years. Along with them are some of the most unsavoury elements of our society. Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last, has sport found itself in bed with the devil. It is time not just to do what is right but what is seen to be right for the Indian fan.

He (sorry, but "he/she" sentences become complicated) wants to be certain that his faith is not misplaced for he gives to his sport everything he has; his hard-earned money, his time and his feelings. He braves hardships to go to stadiums, stands in long queues to get a wave from a star, and screams his lungs out for his team. All he wants really, and that is at the base of this outburst against the BCCI, is a guarantee that his faith is being reciprocated. So Indian cricket must not only think of what is right for the BCCI but what is right for the fan.

As a first sign of reassurance, the BCCI (more specifically the IPL but the governing entities are almost the same) needed to promise a completely independent inquiry into the many issues before the IPL, and more specifically with what happened with Chennai Super Kings, especially in the light of the many calls to resolve the conflict-of-interest issue. To some extent that has happened, and I am assuming that there must be a requirement for both judges to be from Chennai! But to be seen by the fan to be completely independent, the entire committee should have been appointed from those outside the BCCI (even though its nominee, Sanjay Jagdale, is one of the hardest-working, most sincere officials of the board).

Conflict of interest is a particularly sensitive issue and, certainly in India, widespread. We see it in politics virtually every day, and it has become an issue to attack others on and accept for yourself. It is like breaking a traffic rule; everyone does it and finds a justification that applies only to them. The fact that a very good rule had to be amended in 2008 meant there was uncertainty on whether or not India Cements could have bought a team in the first place. But judges are more learned people than us, so it will be interesting to see if their interpretation (and I do hope they look into it) is different from what seems to be the most apparent one.

There is, however, a deeper issue here of governance and accountability that the BCCI has chosen to address, if at all, in private. This is a great opportunity to reach out to the fans and promise a complete clean-up; not just of the board but, more critically, of the state bodies too. In the last couple of years, the BCCI has done a fair job of organising the 2011 World Cup and the IPL, which is, in reality, a logistical nightmare. Many new stadiums have come up, and having seen them, I can promise you they are world class. And there are some very sharp minds at Cricket Centre in Mumbai.

I have said it before, and maybe experts in organisational matters would be better qualified to address this, but the Satyam model should work well. An organisation that, by all accounts, was very well run suddenly had to confront a grave financial crime and was in danger of going under. India's reputation as a provider of quality software was under threat, so the government, in a stunningly rare burst of speed and commitment, appointed a committee of independent, highly respected and experienced people to bring stability, work out a transition and find a buyer. Satyam would become Tech Mahindra and is already back on the rails. The BCCI too is under siege now, not quite as grave as Satyam but serious nonetheless and needs an organisational clean-up so that it better reflects the size of the enterprise it now is.

A board of independent, cricket-loving people would, I am sure, be happy to frame corporate governance norms that would be as fair, transparent and open as the best organisations in the world. People like Deepak Parekh, Narayana Murthy, men of integrity, are the kind of people I am hinting at. This move towards openness cannot be seen as an alternative, it is imperative.

With financial success comes greater responsibility. I really hoped that the BCCI would want to be the best-run cricket body in the world, setting standards in on-field play and off-field governance. There are two teams that play for India and that which plays off the field is often just as important. An open organisation is also a sign of confidence, and while it is true that many people seek to attract attention by attacking the BCCI, it would yield such rabble-rousers far lesser sympathy than it does now.

At times I am optimistic that matters will come to such a head that a governance overhaul will become the only way ahead, that the BCCI will be forced into being open and rigorous. At others, I fear that there will be a superficial truce once a compromise is reached

Within the IPL itself, I hope the franchises lead the clamour for greater openness and participation and, as a result, for greater responsibility on themselves. That is important for some of the problems lead to their door. Since the BCCI has tended to occasionally give the impression that revenues produce greater excitement than wins, maybe a potential attack on revenues could spur these reforms. That is why the franchise holders and sponsors need to exert pressure. It will benefit everyone, including the BCCI. Rahul Dravid recently talked about how the truth liberates, and that is what fans will be seeking.

It is also in the BCCI's interest to do this, because there are too many people in political India whose performance is far more sordid, who will seek to wrest control of Indian cricket. If the government insists on running it, Indian cricket will hurtle towards ruin. Olympic associations and sports federations have been extraordinarily efficient in killing many sports in India. We cannot let cricket go there. Maybe making it a model of corporate governance will prevent that.

A set of corporate governance norms would also have ensured that the decision on whether or not N Srinivasan steps down would not have descended into a battle of factions, for that is what it seems to be. In an ideal world Srinivasan would step down temporarily, for the duration of the inquiry, with the assurance that if he emerges clean he becomes president again, with his term extended for the period of the suspension. But he cannot do that now, because it will be seen as a victory for his opponents. Eventually it will come down, as it already has, to who controls the greater number of votes. That is Indian cricket's biggest enemy, the vote, which emboldens the state associations from coming clean with their activities.

It is also this little sense of insecurity that causes the BCCI to contract commentators, for example. The request to "stay with the on-field action" is not wrong in principle, for commentators are appointed for their skills in communicating the on-field drama and the thinking behind it. The platform has, in the past, been usurped for commenting on many unconnected issues. The last thing you want is for the telecast to sound like one of the dreadful prime-time news nights, where sensation and scandal throttle reason and decency. The flip side is that the fan wants independent opinions, he forms a bond with some people he trusts, and letting them speak their mind only strengthens that bond.

The coverage of Indian cricket, from a technical point of view, has been nothing short of outstanding, no expense has been spared. But that has got shrouded by other issues; the ones I just mentioned, and the discussion on commercial intrusion (increasingly happening everywhere).

An open debate on selection is not bad, and I am certain an informed debate on the DRS would have shown the BCCI that there are many reputed commentators around the world, not just in India, who agree with certain aspects of their stance. But a debate could have taken place ideally on a wrap-around show, not over live action. The fan would have seen both sides of the argument and been better informed and happier. The alternative, of course, is to have such a debate on another forum, but news channels, so vehement in their criticism, have long surrendered to an often undignified chase for ratings. In Australia in early 2012, I asked a TV news reporter why he was insisting on asking questions that were clearly aimed at a saucy headline. His reply, without a sign of regret, was: "My boss has made it very clear; forget the cricket, get me a headline!"

It is because of the attitude of the news channels (there are two exceptions, but my association with them prevents me from naming them) that I am actually in favour of not letting players speak to the media on tour on matters other than their performance on the day. These are young people not very well-versed in avoiding manipulative questioning and therefore liable to be caught in the search for a headline. It is true that the fan would like to hear from them, but everyone needs to play it straight for that to happen. It brings us to the aspect of grooming and mentoring (an area where a lot needs to be done, but maybe that is for another day). The BCCI needs to invest heavily in media management and on-tour officials.

At times I am optimistic that matters will come to such a head that a governance overhaul will become the only way ahead, that the BCCI will be forced into being open and rigorous. At others, I fear that there will be a superficial truce once a compromise is reached. That is the way governments are run and Indian cricket cannot waste this opportunity by heading in that direction.

The BCCI has done a few things right and a few things wrong. But at this moment in time, if they do not do what is right for Indian cricket and the Indian fan, they will let him down. The time for reform, for overhaul and for openness is now.

Harsha Bhogle is a television presenter, writer, and a commentator on IPL and other cricket. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • HarshaFollower on June 1, 2013, 2:50 GMT

    Harsha Good thoughts and seeing the similarity with Satyam's take over. A quick comment on the "...requirement for both judges to be from Chennai..", by itself seems a little odd. While, I am, by no means, suggesting or doubting the integrity of these honorable gentlemen, having such a clause, if true, is very questionable. I wonder what could be the reason for such a clause, that arise influences the fan perception. While I am an optimist like you, but I still feel to clean up this mess of nexus needs everyone including the franchise owners to come clean and be transparent themselves and that is a very difficult mandate. Finally, a question, just when do we start seeing some of the changes show up in governance? Time is short and BCCI needs to act fast or they risk losing Indian Cricket fan base, which is fast eroding, at least in the country I live in at present.

  • sramesh_74 on May 31, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    The author talks about the need to involve men with integrity in the governance of this great game. There is no need to look beyond legends like Dravid, Kumble, Sachin and Ganguly. When my 7 year old asks me who my favorite cricketers are, I automatically say Sachin and Dravid. When he asks me to pick one from the current crop, I struggle for an answer. If the BCCI really wants to ensure the game regains its integrity and popularity, men like RD and SRT should be given meaningful roles in the system.

  • Leg-Breaker on June 2, 2013, 3:02 GMT

    I like it when you get emotional like your articles on Laxman - but when you pontificate & tell people that they should have the option of watching TV w/o commentary (mute button, Harsha...duh) it is time for BCCI to be more transparent, you lose the connection.

  • Sportius on June 1, 2013, 19:35 GMT

    The real question is how long these issues are going to be remembered. Despite all these issues nobody had any problem in watching the IPL final when there were real questions looming around disqualification of CSK. The truth is we in india has a very short memory towards corruption whether if it is in sports or in politics because it is so common and over the years we have learned to live with it. People in power know this better than anybody else. Only hope we probably can have is on the integrity of sportsmen and sport in itself. The hope that these incidents would deter young cricketers from choosing the wrong path. At the same time we should also admit that integrity does come to a person from the society/family/community he lives in.

  • raj60 on June 1, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    Harsha Bhogle's bias showed up with the remark "requirement for both judges to be from Chennai".

  • on June 1, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    Nice Article Harsha...I am a street cricketer whenever i play cricket it is the only thing matters to me, as a cricket fan i need pure cricket but few people just reluctant to accept what happened recently and holding on to their position or just not doing enough to take a step to cleanse the Cricket... but i am doing my bit to tell every one to follow cricket religiusly by the way medium of whatsapp status & FB and showing my street cricketer skills to evryone...

  • venkatesh018 on June 1, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    @thatsJustcricket...My humble reply to your comment is just a request to read the piece "The Serpent in the Garden" in Cricinfo written by Ramchandra Guha. Esteemed people do exist in my parallel universe. Get well soon.

  • STRAIGHT_TALK on June 1, 2013, 5:49 GMT

    All these issues of conflict of interest are cropping up now!! The famed commentators and writers have been silent for 6 seasons !! A beautiful sport has been badly mutilated into a morphed format run by entrepreneurs, a majority of whom have some case or the other against them (economic offences). We talk of our responsibility towards our fans!! Where did the sanity vanish earlier?

  • on June 1, 2013, 1:57 GMT

    Harsha, This article was long overdue and I am so glad it came from you. I have been a huge fan of yours and reading your article has made me feel hopeful in this time of utter despair for the Indian cricket fan. Thank you for that! I'm also happy that someone contracted by the BCCI has finally brought up the issue of contracted commentators. I call it an issue because the presentation of the cricket is biased and the opinions are restrained or obviously influenced. The little guy on your shoulder dressed in red ('The mini Srinivasan', if you will) warns you not to say what you really think, or else! I am pained to see the likes of Sunil Gavaskar contort their opinions to favor the BCCI at all times and no one can convince me otherwise. It's a whole other thing that Ravi Shastri just regurgitates cliche after cliche like a machine and has been doing so for almost 20 years now! Anyways, keep up the good work!

  • LAKINGSFAN on June 1, 2013, 0:22 GMT

    It doesn't make any sense to talk about conflicting interests now. It's been 5 years and there were 6 IPL seasons that were over. And, I don't see why Srinivasan should resign as it will send wrong vibes that he too was involved.

  • HarshaFollower on June 1, 2013, 2:50 GMT

    Harsha Good thoughts and seeing the similarity with Satyam's take over. A quick comment on the "...requirement for both judges to be from Chennai..", by itself seems a little odd. While, I am, by no means, suggesting or doubting the integrity of these honorable gentlemen, having such a clause, if true, is very questionable. I wonder what could be the reason for such a clause, that arise influences the fan perception. While I am an optimist like you, but I still feel to clean up this mess of nexus needs everyone including the franchise owners to come clean and be transparent themselves and that is a very difficult mandate. Finally, a question, just when do we start seeing some of the changes show up in governance? Time is short and BCCI needs to act fast or they risk losing Indian Cricket fan base, which is fast eroding, at least in the country I live in at present.

  • sramesh_74 on May 31, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    The author talks about the need to involve men with integrity in the governance of this great game. There is no need to look beyond legends like Dravid, Kumble, Sachin and Ganguly. When my 7 year old asks me who my favorite cricketers are, I automatically say Sachin and Dravid. When he asks me to pick one from the current crop, I struggle for an answer. If the BCCI really wants to ensure the game regains its integrity and popularity, men like RD and SRT should be given meaningful roles in the system.

  • Leg-Breaker on June 2, 2013, 3:02 GMT

    I like it when you get emotional like your articles on Laxman - but when you pontificate & tell people that they should have the option of watching TV w/o commentary (mute button, Harsha...duh) it is time for BCCI to be more transparent, you lose the connection.

  • Sportius on June 1, 2013, 19:35 GMT

    The real question is how long these issues are going to be remembered. Despite all these issues nobody had any problem in watching the IPL final when there were real questions looming around disqualification of CSK. The truth is we in india has a very short memory towards corruption whether if it is in sports or in politics because it is so common and over the years we have learned to live with it. People in power know this better than anybody else. Only hope we probably can have is on the integrity of sportsmen and sport in itself. The hope that these incidents would deter young cricketers from choosing the wrong path. At the same time we should also admit that integrity does come to a person from the society/family/community he lives in.

  • raj60 on June 1, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    Harsha Bhogle's bias showed up with the remark "requirement for both judges to be from Chennai".

  • on June 1, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    Nice Article Harsha...I am a street cricketer whenever i play cricket it is the only thing matters to me, as a cricket fan i need pure cricket but few people just reluctant to accept what happened recently and holding on to their position or just not doing enough to take a step to cleanse the Cricket... but i am doing my bit to tell every one to follow cricket religiusly by the way medium of whatsapp status & FB and showing my street cricketer skills to evryone...

  • venkatesh018 on June 1, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    @thatsJustcricket...My humble reply to your comment is just a request to read the piece "The Serpent in the Garden" in Cricinfo written by Ramchandra Guha. Esteemed people do exist in my parallel universe. Get well soon.

  • STRAIGHT_TALK on June 1, 2013, 5:49 GMT

    All these issues of conflict of interest are cropping up now!! The famed commentators and writers have been silent for 6 seasons !! A beautiful sport has been badly mutilated into a morphed format run by entrepreneurs, a majority of whom have some case or the other against them (economic offences). We talk of our responsibility towards our fans!! Where did the sanity vanish earlier?

  • on June 1, 2013, 1:57 GMT

    Harsha, This article was long overdue and I am so glad it came from you. I have been a huge fan of yours and reading your article has made me feel hopeful in this time of utter despair for the Indian cricket fan. Thank you for that! I'm also happy that someone contracted by the BCCI has finally brought up the issue of contracted commentators. I call it an issue because the presentation of the cricket is biased and the opinions are restrained or obviously influenced. The little guy on your shoulder dressed in red ('The mini Srinivasan', if you will) warns you not to say what you really think, or else! I am pained to see the likes of Sunil Gavaskar contort their opinions to favor the BCCI at all times and no one can convince me otherwise. It's a whole other thing that Ravi Shastri just regurgitates cliche after cliche like a machine and has been doing so for almost 20 years now! Anyways, keep up the good work!

  • LAKINGSFAN on June 1, 2013, 0:22 GMT

    It doesn't make any sense to talk about conflicting interests now. It's been 5 years and there were 6 IPL seasons that were over. And, I don't see why Srinivasan should resign as it will send wrong vibes that he too was involved.

  • on May 31, 2013, 21:52 GMT

    Saurav Ganguly to be the BCCI president, Kapil Dev - treasurer, Amarnath - secretary, Harsha Bhogle - Media manager, Javagal Srinath, Kumble, Navjot singh Sidhu other members ..... Get these rich and greedy politician and big company owners turn BCCI board members out .., they never played cricket but interestingly manages them! Get normal reputed professional people like doctors, engineers, lawyers, managers etc in the BCCI team along with above ! Should bring in quality assurance process, transparency, accountability into the management! No one person holds power, the people of the country do ...

  • bford1921 on May 31, 2013, 20:23 GMT

    Corruption needs to be addressed quickly, my concern is that there will be a cover up designed to continue to protect the most powerful and a small number of players will be sold down the river. The tournament is popular, it needs to be valued for it to continue to thrive, but that requires the whole thing to be properly cleared out of any criminality. The supporters deserve this at a least, and I would be surprised if global sponsors would want to be associated with what is viewed as a corrupt product. There is time to get this sorted before the next season, however, if it fails to address those elements it will be a stigma that could bury the IPL,

  • on May 31, 2013, 20:22 GMT

    The real issue, Harsha, is not whether BCCI will cater to the fans or not, but what can the fans do to cricket in India - which will force BCCI to mend their ways. The best things for fans to do is put a financial ding on BCCI - hit them where it hurts most - and to that point, maybe look to boycott cricket matches. The sponsors and broadcasters have a role to play in this as well - they should stop sponsoring and broadcasting till the mess is cleared up. I also believe that someone has to file a PIL to stop BCCI from conducting any more cricket matches till an independent body can provide them with a clean chit - which really means that BCCI governance has to be clean, free of conflict of interest, have right checks and balances in place, etc.

    Dhaval

  • theMadness on May 31, 2013, 20:19 GMT

    Not long ago, despite not in any worse state than BCCI is in, one of its member state club, the KSCA took a drastic step. A royal bloodline contesting the election could not stop, let alone the politicians. Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Venky and co. did what no one else could do - simply put their foot firmly on ground and rise to the occasion. It was no surprise to us fans. They were of that breed, of that class; both on and off. KSCA was not in bad shape mind you .. but greats who made the game better saw an opportunity to better it off the field as well. Coming to the case of BCCI, I'm of a staunch belief that a sports body should be run by sportsmen; not managers. Solely for the fact that BCCI is not a publicly listed company to file better returns YOY. Its function is to better the prospects of the game and game alone. Not to mint money. If they could better the game, everything else follows. Like clockwork orange. I believe the current crop has it. Do they? Lets wait and watch

  • on May 31, 2013, 19:52 GMT

    srinivasan should resign and tendulkar should be made bcci president.sachin is capable of playing test cricket and also do the responsibilities of bcci president

  • on May 31, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    Why are these comments form Harsha only coming at a time when the BCCI president is about to be ousted. Why have you never spoken about the conflict of interest issue before this?

  • ThatsJustCricket on May 31, 2013, 18:56 GMT

    @venkatesh018 : that really made me laugh. I would like to some day visit the parallel universe you live in :) The big money that attracts all the big name players world over come from the very corporate bodies you are trying to throw out. Besides, I never understand this tendency of people to judge a T20 player by his test achievements. These are different forms of the game and needs a totally different skill set. Sunil Narine, if anything, is a living proof of that. But I guess, if Test cricket is the only "tough" cricket for you then you would do a world of good just by staying away from the IPL.

  • Cyril_Knight on May 31, 2013, 18:35 GMT

    The BCCI has lost all credibility it must be dissolved and reformed as a new association. For too long the focus of BCCI has been greed. Through their avarice naturally came corruption and deception. Time for a fresh start.

    I nominate Rahul Dravid as chairman of a new association.

  • on May 31, 2013, 17:05 GMT

    Harsha, you have made some valid observations. However, I am afraid that i don't agree with the point that Indian coverage is outstanding. We are not doing anything that hasn't been done before like the ones which are done in the Big bash. Commentary in general has been of poor standard, full of cliches. I am not a big fan of cricketers being commentators. There are noted exceptions though. We need to get professionals in the commentary team like yourself. The more the better.

  • tiervonholle666 on May 31, 2013, 16:49 GMT

    In addition to my earlier post:

    In India, the need of the hour is to dissolve the BCCI, setup a framework for the constitution of the Board, have ex-cricketers be the head honchos of the same, draft new powerful legislation that addresses concerns and the whole 9 yards.

    Furthermore, BCCI needs to be banned from the ICC so that they understand the gravity of the situation.

    As long as things are running, we ignore issues. But, when faced with adversity, we rise with a force unknown.

    ICC needs to set its constitution in order as well so that powerful boards do not dictate terms to the governing body. Forgive the rant please. I am just an ardent fan of this beautiful sport and it pains me to see that the greed and power hungry few... are spoiling this game... that too at home

  • tiervonholle666 on May 31, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    First of all, why Politicians are involved in a sports governing body? is beyond comprehension.Secondly, Money is the sole reason they are interested in the BCCI. They have no idea about how to run the game and yet, the constitution of the board has been drafted such that there is all leeway possible for the guilty to be in administration and have people without any background in the game to run the sport in INDIA. The BCCI is such a money greedy organization that Bangladesh and Zimbabwe do not feature in its FTP program because it does not generate enough revenue. Look at SA, Eng, NZ, etc. travel to these countries to HONOR cricket and the game. I wish ICC takes a huge loss in terms of revenue for a while so that they can be what they need to be.. the prominent authority of the game and put the BCCI in its place. It is unfair to the cricketers in India, but if they are committed to the game, then the prospect of making good money must be their last concern.

  • Romenevans on May 31, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    In all this controversy the person who should be applauded is Sidhart Trivedi. Last year also when there was a sting operation by some news channel he came out clean, and this year also bookies contacted him and he rejected them and now he is playing a key witness for the police.

    Way to go sid! Respect for your honesty.

  • on May 31, 2013, 16:00 GMT

    There are too many wheels within wheels operating berating the BCCI,IPLetc.AN independent enquiry should liberate the actual truth from all the sensation mongering TV channels with ther screaming and headlines.CRicket wise IPL may not measure upto TEST stds,but it's entertainment value is the envy of the world.There is no doubt that the current mess must be cleared.GOPal from DUBAI.

  • on May 31, 2013, 15:32 GMT

    The real issue, Harsha, is not whether BCCI will cater to the fans or not, but what can the fans do to cricket in India - which will force BCCI to mend their ways. The best things for fans to do is put a financial ding on BCCI - hit them where it hurts most - and to that point, maybe look to boycott cricket matches. The sponsors and broadcasters have a role to play in this as well - they should stop sponsoring and broadcasting till the mess is cleared up. I also believe that someone has to file a PIL to stop BCCI from conducting any more cricket matches till an independent body can provide them with a clean chit - which really means that BCCI governance has to be clean, free of conflict of interest, have right checks and balances in place, etc.

    Dhaval

  • on May 31, 2013, 14:58 GMT

    Your last few titles have read "time for sadness" "time for anger" and this one might as well have been titled "time for overhaul".. Just shows you how bad our businessmen and politicians are.. The biggest difference between any other developing country and India is just the amount of brazen selfishness we can show and get away with.. It is still a country where Sachin not being in the wrong is a more important argument than a slur to the country itself.. When fans are this bad, we deserve a board that is this bad..

  • Fogu on May 31, 2013, 14:17 GMT

    Corporations' primary responsibility is to maximize profit. If short cuts/cutting corners are needed to make that extra dollar, they would do it. Time and time again we have seen that. I live in the States and here you can't even get news that is not slanted to what the corporations want. Granted, corporate sponsors allow for growth for players income and fill coffers of the boards, it also diminishes the game of cricket on the field. Politicains know where the money is and they would not want to choke the golden goose so we end up where we are. Fans get the shaft because at the end of the day, fans buy tickets and merchandise with their money but get a diminished product.

  • Nicks7am on May 31, 2013, 13:43 GMT

    Harsha, I like many cricket lovers across the world have great respect for your on-field insights and off-field stellar achievements. I used to look forward to your articles and still do, but somewhere deep within, something has snapped off. It feels like you have ginger-stepped the issue in addressing as BCCI has an obligation to fans !! Is that all? There needs to be governance overhaul - is that all? we all know what motherhood-apple pie stuff would look like. In a la la land. The issue is here- and now of the people who were and are governing this. It is people who are making the decisions. All of you, cricket commentators, men of cricketing experience and eloquence and supposed independence have suddenly gone tongue-tied on this.. In your marketing parlance, there is 'insight'. The insight here is that the 'Indian fan' has reached a tipping point where he /she no longer knows what to believe or that matter, who. Whether you call it 'interest' or 'conflict of interest

  • agr_ajay on May 31, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    Feel sad for naivety of those who thought that amalgamation of cricket and business/Bollywood in the form of IPL is pure and nothing else is happening other then good cricket. As a rank outsider and nobody, one can sense that many things in IPL have got nothing to do with cricket like after parties, many illogical changes in the team, changes in batting order which defied cricket logic. It seemed that there are some external and unknown forces at work. As a old cricket buff, love cricket of 60-90 days a year with some test,ODI and T20 and definitely can live without IPL and CL.

  • on May 31, 2013, 10:46 GMT

    Finally, at least Harsha opens his mouth. I thought the fans should have boycotted the finale at Eden Gardens.

  • mmmuthukumar on May 31, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    Please leave Dhoni and co alone. Do you want him to play cricket or answer your questions?His team owners might have wronged.Why should he come in the open about it. Regarding conflicts of interest, India cements went with the rules, It is not illegal. Do we really know who are the real owners and what percent they all hold in all the teams.How the money was routed. No one really cares. Everyone likes bashing the best team in IPL over the years, As the saying goes, only the trees with fruits gets stoned.SCK was groomed for 6 years and now they play with 6 indian stars, 4 foreigners and a rookie pacer Mohit, who may get into the team soon. If that irks others, then SO BE IT.

  • itismenithin on May 31, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    It is a valid point, cricketers need not speak to the media at all times. Their main focus should be on improving their game and playing at 100% for their country. Frequent media interactions could put them in unwanted controversy and distract them away from their game.

  • venkatesh018 on May 31, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    To start with I disagree with many points Harsha has mentioned. First and foremost the IPL never has and never will never be a great cricketing tournament. There has never been "tough" cricket in the league. The Asnodkars, Manpreet Gonys,Paul Valthatys, Suresh Rainas, Sunil Narines(look how he struggled in real cricket-Tests) and many more examples will vouch for that. The best solution is to Get the Corporates completely out of the Ipl by handing back their money invested. The payments to the players in the IPL should be made by the Board on the basis of how those players played in the Ranji season that year. The maximum an IPL players should earn in a IPL season should not be more than twice the total amount a player from the Ranji Trophy winning team would have earned that season. This will secure the sanctity of first class and Test cricket and stop the talent drain and put an end to the depression which engulfs domestic players when they are left without an IPL contract.

  • rajatmehra on May 31, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    Well said, Harsha! I pretty much agree with you. At this moment the least BCCI can do is to regain the trust of the fans. A transparent governance system is the first step in the right direction.

  • on May 31, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    Even in the best of times, Dhoni isn't the most articulate of people. He has always let his actions speak for himself and his team than big words. To me, his silence about this situation says a lot more about it than any words would have. I don't see it as a gag, I see it as a very personal choice made by a man who thinks for himself. Saying something slipshod at this point would give the media that's howling for his head some fodder but it will, more crucially, jeopardize the job he has to do in the next couple of weeks, which is to win the Champions Trophy for India. If he was a BCCI or Srinivasan stooge, he would have said something in support of them or waved it off as something insignificant. That he hasn't done either, says a lot.

    In this whole messy scandal, only two people have shone for me, Rahul Dravid and M.S. Dhoni. One very strongly and emotionally condemned it the day it happened, the other, knowing his limitations, let his silence do all the talking.

  • on May 31, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    Dear Mr.Bhogle,

    I am writing this to you cause i feel that you of all people know, how to put your Point without Insulting an Individual. But what sadness me is that you speak about the Fans . But tell me Honestly are these people (Cricketers) who care about the Fans . No one does . Cause we are "Nobody" we know that,we don't have your (Cricketers) bank balance,we don't have the right contacts to India s Leading Industrialists,Politicians,Bollywood etc etc. We don't even get to know what is happening in Indian Dressing Room. Only the privileged Few get to know what is happening and they are again the Big Shots.

    I think the whole problem where it starts and end is that the whole BCCI is a League of there own ( Players , Cricketers,Commentators,Administrators) they dont want any thing to be leaked or any one else to know what is happening or going to happen the "HEADLINE" news that you talk of is started by the cricketing people.As an Fan I like to know what a player thinks and if he

  • ladycricfan on May 31, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    Betting and spot fixing are crimes, only police has the power to deal with it. BCCI should wait for the police investigation to be over before they conduct their own inquiry.

  • govilsrt on May 31, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    I am not in favour of harsha as he said that "I am actually in favour of not letting players speak to the media on tour on matters other than their performance on the day."

    We want our legend's to speak about this matters.We want what they think about this.We want them to get our confidence back for cricket.If they will not speak them who will speak.We made them hero now we want our hero to speak for us not for the BCCI,In champions trophy Dhoni representing India not BCCI. Its not about dhoni only but for Sachin,Shastri,Gavaskar and your other fellow commentrators who didn't speak even a single word. I was a big fan of MI for last 5 seasons but when in this season as sson as spot fixing happens I was not celebrating MI's wins as I used to celebrate earlier.I saw the dream for MI's that they shld win the IPL ,but when they won I was not happy.I want to connect to this game again but its not possible for me.That's why I want my legends yo speak for me not for the BCCI.

  • mvganesh on May 31, 2013, 7:00 GMT

    Very sensible & assertive article !!! In a way Harsha is lucky that he is not directly related to BCCI and can write assertively and may be that is the one reason, preventing some of the senior ex or current cricketers to voice their opinion bluntly. When will we see a pristine BCCI ?

  • on May 31, 2013, 5:35 GMT

    Spot fixing & betting scandal which hit IPL and BCCI has gone deep by miles. Problems from root are now getting uncovered. 1. BCCI amended law to allow in 2008 to allow India Cements to own a team in IPL. This itself was wrong move in first place. Time and again you see note mentioned on any public contest terms that employees or relatives are not allowed to participate. So BCCI broke the ground rules. 2. After doing the blunder, it was fortunate/unfortuante fate that CSK got involved and exposed in betting controversy. Now where does it leave everyone? Srinivasan refused to speak for couple of days because he don't know what to say. Rajeev Shukla & other memebers of BCCI refused to come out and speak to media about CSK because eventually that would mean they are speaking against President of BCCI.

  • on May 31, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    3. Having powers of President, Srinivasan later comes out and says that he will not resign and have backing of BCCI. Although none came out with Srini and said that. Not a single media conference has happened where Srinivasan, Rajeev Shukla, Sanajay Jagdale, Shirke have sat at one table gave conference. Silence has shown the lengths of conflict of interests within the BCCI. Srinivasan now is merely trying to avoid embarassement by having to resign himself, but it is inevitable in the end, nonetheless.

  • on May 31, 2013, 5:33 GMT

    Thank God. We at least have one man daring to come out and voice his opinion. Well done Harsha! You made us believe that money (BCCI) hasn't bought everyone as yet... Pathetic thing in all this is the helplessness of cricket fans. They are deeply hurt inside (especially when they see the stars they adore are fast turning into cowardly puppets) but still couldn't think saying "No" to cricket...

  • RG2008 on May 31, 2013, 5:31 GMT

    Hooray - sensible, pragmatic and intelligent comments about what the game needs. It would be good to hear more people speaking about freeing the IPL of self interest which is simply not in the interests of the prosperity of the game globally (of which - like it or not - the IPL is now a critical lifeblood).

  • nahakprabhakar on May 31, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    Harsha , perfectly said ,this is what I've been thinking for last two weeks since this fiasco started , I don't know why these so called intellectually superior people (News anchors ) howling the Indian Captain for his point of view about this , that he right now should not give . I wanted to ask how many of their (News reporters ) subordinates have come forward to challenge them whenever any wrong doings happens in their organization (They will keep themselves silent on this ) , but we know media is very Breaking news friendly they can go to any extent to ask these questions . Yes Indian Captain deserves to be questioned but not right now , He will answer them as and when time would be right and make no mistake He will answer them , Considering the kind of personality he has . By the way news anchor should priorities their focus on Naxal issues , this issue should be secondary .

  • on May 31, 2013, 5:10 GMT

    One of the most diplomatic articles written by Harsha. Not a true Harsha Bhogle article. It is well understood that even someone like him who is generally referred to as the voice of Indian Cricket is being gagged. And that somehow explain the whole irony. The real voice of cricket is certainly being tamed by the powers that be.

    I agree on what he says about media because that tends to happen more often than not but then all the sane voices have several platforms from where they can communicate clear, unbiased opinion and speak their mind. Also to note that Rahul Dravid was using the very same media and made such a clear and articulated pitch about the whole scandal.

  • Sheela on May 31, 2013, 4:04 GMT

    BCCI or for that matter any sports body do not have the required personnel to conduct investigations like spot fixing etc. This must be left to the police who have the expertise. However by law, time frame must be set . Otherwise like some bomb blast case, for six years even charge sheets have not been filed an .d such delays should be avoided.

  • Sheela on May 31, 2013, 4:04 GMT

    BCCI or for that matter any sports body do not have the required personnel to conduct investigations like spot fixing etc. This must be left to the police who have the expertise. However by law, time frame must be set . Otherwise like some bomb blast case, for six years even charge sheets have not been filed an .d such delays should be avoided.

  • on May 31, 2013, 5:10 GMT

    One of the most diplomatic articles written by Harsha. Not a true Harsha Bhogle article. It is well understood that even someone like him who is generally referred to as the voice of Indian Cricket is being gagged. And that somehow explain the whole irony. The real voice of cricket is certainly being tamed by the powers that be.

    I agree on what he says about media because that tends to happen more often than not but then all the sane voices have several platforms from where they can communicate clear, unbiased opinion and speak their mind. Also to note that Rahul Dravid was using the very same media and made such a clear and articulated pitch about the whole scandal.

  • nahakprabhakar on May 31, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    Harsha , perfectly said ,this is what I've been thinking for last two weeks since this fiasco started , I don't know why these so called intellectually superior people (News anchors ) howling the Indian Captain for his point of view about this , that he right now should not give . I wanted to ask how many of their (News reporters ) subordinates have come forward to challenge them whenever any wrong doings happens in their organization (They will keep themselves silent on this ) , but we know media is very Breaking news friendly they can go to any extent to ask these questions . Yes Indian Captain deserves to be questioned but not right now , He will answer them as and when time would be right and make no mistake He will answer them , Considering the kind of personality he has . By the way news anchor should priorities their focus on Naxal issues , this issue should be secondary .

  • RG2008 on May 31, 2013, 5:31 GMT

    Hooray - sensible, pragmatic and intelligent comments about what the game needs. It would be good to hear more people speaking about freeing the IPL of self interest which is simply not in the interests of the prosperity of the game globally (of which - like it or not - the IPL is now a critical lifeblood).

  • on May 31, 2013, 5:33 GMT

    Thank God. We at least have one man daring to come out and voice his opinion. Well done Harsha! You made us believe that money (BCCI) hasn't bought everyone as yet... Pathetic thing in all this is the helplessness of cricket fans. They are deeply hurt inside (especially when they see the stars they adore are fast turning into cowardly puppets) but still couldn't think saying "No" to cricket...

  • on May 31, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    3. Having powers of President, Srinivasan later comes out and says that he will not resign and have backing of BCCI. Although none came out with Srini and said that. Not a single media conference has happened where Srinivasan, Rajeev Shukla, Sanajay Jagdale, Shirke have sat at one table gave conference. Silence has shown the lengths of conflict of interests within the BCCI. Srinivasan now is merely trying to avoid embarassement by having to resign himself, but it is inevitable in the end, nonetheless.

  • on May 31, 2013, 5:35 GMT

    Spot fixing & betting scandal which hit IPL and BCCI has gone deep by miles. Problems from root are now getting uncovered. 1. BCCI amended law to allow in 2008 to allow India Cements to own a team in IPL. This itself was wrong move in first place. Time and again you see note mentioned on any public contest terms that employees or relatives are not allowed to participate. So BCCI broke the ground rules. 2. After doing the blunder, it was fortunate/unfortuante fate that CSK got involved and exposed in betting controversy. Now where does it leave everyone? Srinivasan refused to speak for couple of days because he don't know what to say. Rajeev Shukla & other memebers of BCCI refused to come out and speak to media about CSK because eventually that would mean they are speaking against President of BCCI.

  • mvganesh on May 31, 2013, 7:00 GMT

    Very sensible & assertive article !!! In a way Harsha is lucky that he is not directly related to BCCI and can write assertively and may be that is the one reason, preventing some of the senior ex or current cricketers to voice their opinion bluntly. When will we see a pristine BCCI ?

  • govilsrt on May 31, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    I am not in favour of harsha as he said that "I am actually in favour of not letting players speak to the media on tour on matters other than their performance on the day."

    We want our legend's to speak about this matters.We want what they think about this.We want them to get our confidence back for cricket.If they will not speak them who will speak.We made them hero now we want our hero to speak for us not for the BCCI,In champions trophy Dhoni representing India not BCCI. Its not about dhoni only but for Sachin,Shastri,Gavaskar and your other fellow commentrators who didn't speak even a single word. I was a big fan of MI for last 5 seasons but when in this season as sson as spot fixing happens I was not celebrating MI's wins as I used to celebrate earlier.I saw the dream for MI's that they shld win the IPL ,but when they won I was not happy.I want to connect to this game again but its not possible for me.That's why I want my legends yo speak for me not for the BCCI.

  • ladycricfan on May 31, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    Betting and spot fixing are crimes, only police has the power to deal with it. BCCI should wait for the police investigation to be over before they conduct their own inquiry.