Women's coach selection process 'sham', 'unconstitutional' - Edulji

Diana Edulji and Vinod Rai emerge from a CoA meeting Getty Images

The appointment of the new coach of the India women's team on Thursday was preceded by a protracted and sharp exchange of messages by the BCCI's top brass, culminating in Diana Edulji, one half of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) running the BCCI, calling the process of selection "unconstitutional" and a "sham", and asking for the announcement to be put on hold. This has become evident from the mail chain included in the letter written by Edulji last night to Vinod Rai, the other half of the CoA, and copied to the BCCI office-bearers and professional managers; however, the official press release announcing WV Raman's appointment as coach was sent out to the media 20 minutes after the time on Edulji's letter.

The mail chain, seen by ESPNcricinfo, makes it clear that Edulji opposed for several days the decision to have an ad-hoc committee select the new coach; under the Lodha reforms, she maintained in her mails, the coach has to be appointed by the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC). However, the interviews in this case were conducted by an ad-hoc committee formed by the CoA, after the CAC, comprising Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly, requested for more time, citing other commitments. The committee offered to the BCCI three names in order of preference: Gary Kirsten, Raman and Venkatesh Prasad. Kirsten was ruled out because he decided to continue coaching Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL and Raman was eventually appointed the coach.

Edulji put her foot down, insisting that the whole process was wrong, but she was seemingly over-ruled once again. "The entire process of selecting a qualified Coach for Women's Cricket team is unconstitutional," Edulji wrote. "I once again reiterate that we have been assigned the role of implementing the Lodha reforms, which says the Coach of the Indian Team can be only be appointed by the CAC. Your unilateral decision of appointing the ad-hoc committee is not only unconstitutional but also illegal. I do not endorse this sham process of announcing the appointment of the Women's Cricket Coach especially when the CAC had requested for more time and a defined role."

Rai has now over-ruled Edulji in many significant deadlocks over contentious issues, the most controversial being the BCCI's handling of allegations of sexual harassment against its CEO Rahul Johri.The BCCI CEO was eventually allowed to continue in his role after a three-member committee formed by the CoA gave Johri a clean chit by a majority of 2-1. There has been similar disagreement between Rai and Edulji ever since the India ODI captain Mithali Raj lashed out against T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur and former India women's coach Ramesh Powar for dropping her in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup. Edulji was of the view that it was a team matter, and the CoA should have nothing to do with it.

Eventually the BCCI decided to not extend Powar's contract, which Edulji opposed. She has since then been against the process put in place for selecting a new coach. Powar was one of the applicants interviewed by the ad-hoc committee comprising Kapil Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy.

Rai had responded to Edulji's concerns by saying these were names suggested by her. "Do not confuse my suggestion for a few names as my approval for the ad-hoc committee," Edulji's response said, "since the first question in that email among many to legal was whether the COA has powers to appoint the Ad-hoc Committee to which the legal replied that we did not have the powers as per the new registered constitution."

Edulji also stated that the legal advice she received from the BCCI's lawyers clarified to the CoA that Rai holds no casting vote as chairman. Edulji also stated the legal advice says that in the original order of the CoA's formation there is no instruction on how to resolve a deadlock. There is hope that the Supreme Court will provide some direction during the hearing on January 17, 2019. Meanwhile, Edulji told the BCCI CEO and GM of operations that paying heed to only Rai in case of a deadlock qualified as insubordination of duty.