June 16, 2013

Who disciplines the administrators?

Just like players, they need to be pulled up for errors in judgement

Thanks to some commanding performances, India have firmly entrenched themselves as favourites to win the Champions Trophy. While the seam bowling has been a pleasant surprise, it's India's powerful batting line-up that has made them the envy of every other nation. That India could regenerate so quickly and successfully a batting line-up that was in danger of being decimated by the regular loss of top-class players, is a tribute to their production line.

Where India are currently embarrassed with run-scoring riches, other strong teams, particularly Australia, and possibly South Africa down the track, are in danger of being reduced to the classification of batting poor. India's remarkable regeneration act has also succeeded in invalidating Australian excuses for their current batting woes. Those arguments range from the sudden departure of senior players to being the result of playing too much T20 cricket.

The latter reason is exposed as dubious because India is the home of the IPL, the richest and most concentrated T20 competition in the cricket world. But therein lies a potential conflict if India do experience the elation of winning the Champions Trophy. Will the tide of euphoria in the country sweep aside the IPL corruption scandal or will it mean the rampant fixing problems are attacked with renewed vigour?

Before coming to a conclusion, it's instructive to examine the incongruities currently in play regarding discipline in cricket. There has been a spate of strong punishment meted out to players who have transgressed either on or off the field. These include New Zealand's Jesse Ryder and Australia's David Warner being suspended for drink-related incidents, and West Indies wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin for poor sportsmanship on the field.

I have no problem with strong punishment being administered to players who exhibit questionable judgement; on the contrary, it's crucial if these problems are to be reduced. However, I do take issue with the inequities in the approach to disciplining offending players and administrators. If the administrators - who generally hand out the punishment - were subjected to the same standards as players when it comes to poor judgement and misbehaviour, then maybe some of the off-field incompetence could be eradicated. In addition to multiple misjudgements, many administrators seem to totally disregard conflict of interest as a concept. And through the IPL scandal, it's also obvious that corruption is an issue among officials.

While the IPL was a visionary concept, its original implementation was flawed. The blueprint for the league could easily have been lifted from a bestselling novel with a central theme of corruption. It was a script combining immense sums of money, the glitz of Bollywood, after-match parties involving players, and on-field performances that were diminished by upgrading the importance of off-field activities. This subjected T20 cricket to the danger of becoming entertainment in the realm of professional wrestling rather than sport.

The fact that no one challenged this concept is symptomatic of the myopic vision in cricket administration worldwide. Their failure to apply a zero-tolerance and draconian punishment regime when fixing first raised its ugly head was a major case of misjudgement. And allowing India to rule with dictatorial zeal while the rest just stood by makes the other countries accomplices in the chaos.

Both players and officials need to reacquaint themselves with the notion of the game's integrity. It's unreasonable to expect players to behave impeccably while they are being exposed to some officials acting corruptly at worst and with a lack of common sense at best. If the administrators' sole priority appears to be "a strong bottom line", it's a bit rich to then accuse cricketers of being "self-centred".

History suggests the investigation into the IPL corruption scandal is most likely to be swept away on a tidal wave of euphoria if India win the Champions Trophy. By reversing that trend the officials will be displaying the courage and foresight the game has been so lacking. It will also be a much-needed boost for the integrity of cricket.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jay on June 18, 2013, 16:50 GMT

    Ian - Who disciplines administrators? When it becomes a hot public issue, it likely falls into the long arms of the law & government! Check out the Australian Crime Commission's recent report into widespread drug use and links to organised crime & possible betting corruption in sports in Australia. Chappell should know. At Channel 9, there was a public backlash when bookie Tom Waterhouse appeared alongside commentators in live coverage of NRL matches. Facing the blurred line issue between bookie & commentator, the federal government decided to limit betting ads in sports - even though betting is legal. So in India where it's illegal, the IPL fixing scam has evoked strong public reaction. The cleansing process is under way - with investigations & actions by a host of concerned parties: law enforcement/police, courts, law & sports ministries, apart from ACSU & BCCI commission. Like in Australia, external agencies had to intervene. Champions Trophy cannot deter the justice system, Ian!

  • Ashok on June 18, 2013, 15:24 GMT

    Ian, Cricket used to be a recreational sport during the 20th century but evolved into a full fledged profession in 21st century. As in many other professions like Medicine, Engineering, Law, Cricket has to be administered in a professional manner too. So the real answer to your question becomes evident when you review "Cricket the sport" in this light. Cricket, as a profession, has to be broadly run & controlled by 2 Linked Bodies: 1. An organizing & administering Board such as BCCI or CA- which also takes care of players such as selection, coaching, Finances, health issues, pensions, etc 2. Governing & Regulatory Body which lays down the rules + code of conduct/ethics +Monitors BCCI or CA on all aspects. Major Professions are run this way in every country to control/discipline its practice. ICC should be helping the Regulatory body by forming new Rules or modifying them.This way BCCI or CA administers Cricket while being monitored to meet regulatory Rules. - No conflict of interest!

  • Paul on June 17, 2013, 21:58 GMT

    I look forward to seeing Warnie getting a spell from the commentary box, when we answer the next logical question - "Who disciplines the media?"

  • Dummy4 on June 17, 2013, 14:19 GMT

    ChappelI has hit the nail on its head. I am as excited as all other Indians on our performance at the Champions League. And our administrators at BCCI, Srini, Dalmiya, Jaitely, Shukla et al must be rubbing their hands in glee as the focus has partially shifted from their major misdeeds. And the ex cricketers, Gavaskar, Kapildev, Shastri Kumble etc haven't endeared themselves to us with their deafening silence. That hurts the most especially Kumble, as I thought he was different and I am willing to change my view if any of you think differently. India could be at the top for some time if he had a clean management who was accountable to someone

  • Ashok on June 17, 2013, 13:36 GMT

    Ian, Indeed you have asked a very pertinent question as to who disciplines the Administrators? The same question is in the minds of all Cricket Fans. In the recent Australian team tour of India, there were 4 players disciplined by their team Manager & sent home- incl. their star, Watson. I thought the punishment was too severe & was not in the best interests of the Team. But the CA supported it instead of reviewing the basis. In this case there was a higher body above the Team Manager. But when CA itself is in the wrong who is above CA? Ministry of sport or a Judicial council?. I personally feel that there should be a sports council comprising of legal + Financial +cricket expert overseeing Boards such as CA or BCCI. Such policing of the Cricket Boards is critical. Otherwise it will create a Dictatorial President of the Board answerable to NONE for his cricket Blunders. The sports council should continuously monitor the CA or BCCI in executing their pre-assigned duties - A MUST!

  • Gopalakrishnan on June 17, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    I have always been a big fan of Ian Chappell and he was spot on when he mentioned sometime back that India was the only team in the recently concluded Under-19 World Cup which had a real batting side.It is already showing in the CT being held in England now.India have a lot of batsmen waiting in the queue to get their chance and the selectors are rightly thinking about the 2015 WC.The fielding looks fantastic with the likes of Kohli,Jadeja,Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina.The bowling still remains a concern and if they can find a few more Bhuvneshwar Kumars and Umesh Yadav it will augur well for the team and INDIA will be the team to beat come 2015WC.I hope Cricket Australia are also listening to Ian Chappell and find out ways to get a good spinner and a few more Michael Clarkes in the batting line-up.It will be interesting to see how India fare on their next tour to SA and also does IC think whether Australia can even win one test match in their next Ashes campaign come July.

  • Krutik on June 17, 2013, 12:19 GMT

    The Indian cricketing greats who have recently retired (Dada, Dravid, VVS, Kumble, Shreenath...SRT sometime soon) can play a very big part in management of cricket in India - all have a pretty clean image and the skills / attitute to run the indian cricket. Lots of clean up required ( within management / commercial interests) to keep the game alive.

  • Prasanna on June 17, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    @Jayzuz , spot-on. ODIs will all its field-restrictions, smaller boundaries and not to forget , the flat, lifeless tracks ( especially when india plays ) doesn't really tell the true story . They lost test series against a quality team ( Eng ) both home and abroad and were thrashed 0-4 by a not-so-great Australian side as well. So not much to speak of their "production line".

  • Prasanna on June 17, 2013, 9:22 GMT

    @Baundele , exactly - thats pretty much my thought as well - after a win, if that happens, everything will be fine with the IPL all of a sudden.