Real 'men of cricket' walk away
BCCI president N Srinivasan's resignation drama has taken a startling, revelatory turn. Srinivasan's key commandants - secretary Sanjay Jagdale and treasurer Ajay Shirke, No 2 and 3 in the board - quit their posts on Friday evening.
Their resignations have come in protest at what Indian cricket and the BCCI had gone through over the past two weeks, both outside and inside. Irrespective of whether their quitting was a tactical or emotional move, Shirke and Jagdale have acted in a manner uncharacteristic of most BCCI officials in these dark days.
Unlike IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla, they do not work in the limelight. Unlike Srinivasan, they have not held on to their posts using fail-safe responses - "let the law take its course" and "I have done nothing wrong." Unlike many others, their career paths in the BCCI did not involve seeking high office.
This is the first time in recent memory that BCCI officials so high up in the hierarchy have stepped down from their posts because of "hurt", "sadness" and "disappointment" around issues striking at the heart of Indian cricket. Not something to do with personal enmities, thwarted aspirations or electoral skirmishes.
Shirke and Jagdale rose to prominent BCCI office with Srinivasan's presidency in September 2011, and were considered capable and honest men. They came to the BCCI from different routes, one a former first-class cricketer, the other a businessman. Shirke is irked by the fact that following Gurunath Meiyappan's arrest, there has been no move towards collective decision-making in the Board, no call for any emergency meetings. Jagdale is distressed that Indian cricket and its many upright cricketers are being dragged through the mud.
Shirke will remain Maharashtra Cricket Association president; other than being managing committee member of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association, Jagdale holds no other BCCI office and can now return to his preferred pastimes of watching matches and reading books of cricket history.
Ever since Meiyappan was arrested, it is known that several high-level BCCI officials had talked regularly to Srinivasan, asking him to stand aside from his office for a month until the investigation was completed. He refused and as days passed, the response to his intransigence went from bewilderment to annoyance and frustration. The two who sought power the least went first. See, Mr President, that's how easy resignation is. You reach a point of no return and you say "that's it, I quit."
After a series of loaded comments, obfuscations and leaked pieces of information from others, Shirke and Jagdale's took decisive executive action. Their resignation sent out a simple message. Whatever happens in the power struggle of the future, the higher ground cannot belong to Srinivasan.
The resignations must sting him. After days of resisting the move, he was made to call for a working committee meeting only on Friday. Now two of his most sincere and least ambitious lieutenants do not want to be part of Team Srini anymore. Srinivasan remains, like he has wanted, the head of the BCCI but today is without the most solid pillars of his administration. Team Srini may have been driven by the power of one man, but it may fall apart because of the credibility of two.
Wherever this ends, whatever gains Srinivasan can eke out of these resignations, he has now lost his biggest calling card as a cricket administrator. The phrase most commonly cited to praise him (and to ensure that his ends justified his means) was that Srinivasan was a "man of cricket." Caught in the IPL's corruption scandal, Srinivasan has pushed the interests of cricket aside and emerged, predictably, as a "man of power." The board's genuine high-ranking "men of cricket" just walked away.
Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo