Saba Karim, the BCCI's general manager (cricket operations), has resigned from his post. ESPNcricinfo understands Karim, the former India wicketkeeper, sent his resignation to the BCCI on Saturday but it has not been accepted yet.
The BCCI has not made any comment on Karim's resignation yet with none of the board's four office-bearers responding to enquires on the same. As per his contract, Karim has a notice period of six months unless the BCCI, while accepting his resignation, advances his exit date.
Karim becomes the fourth senior official to leave the BCCI's professional management since the board elected a new administration last October led by Sourav Ganguly. Before Karim, the trio of Rahul Johri (chief executive officer), Santosh Rangnekar (chief financial officer) and Tufan Ghosh (National Cricket Academy chief operating officer) resigned from their positions.
It was only last week that the BCCI accepted Johri's resignation, which he had submitted last December. Johri had quit a year before completion of his five-year contract.
It was Johri, BCCI's first professional CEO, who had overseen the appointment of Karim in 2017. Karim had replaced the late MV Sridhar, who had stepped down in September that year. It was the second time Karim was employed by the BCCI after he had been part of the national selection committee led by Sandeep Patil.
Karim performed a key role with domestic and women's cricket being his primary responsibilities. He also liaised closely with Rahul Dravid, the NCA director of cricket, to create structure and policy for all levels including India A. Karim was recently liaising with Ganguly, who also was the India captain when the former played his only Test, on how to resume domestic cricket in India in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
Although the BCCI's Apex Council was meant to discuss the appointment of new employees to the board at its meeting on Friday, it is understood that the impending resignation of Karim did not come up for discussion. The meeting, which was held virtually, was chaired by Ganguly and also featured board secretary Jay Shah along with Arun Dhumal (treasurer) and Jayesh George (joint-secretary), and the other Apex Council members. Also participating was Hemang Amin, who was appointed as the interim CEO after Johri's exit. Amin also happens to be the chief operating officer of the IPL.
With respect to how domestic cricket could be organised during the 2020-21 season, the Apex Council is understood to have decided to call for a special general meeting in the next month to seek suggestions from state associations - it is understood that Karim was not invited to this meeting. The Apex Council also decided to put out an advertisement to find a replacement for Johri.
The exit of the top brass of the BCCI management comes at a time when there is uncertainty about the board's leadership. There have been questions about the tenures of Ganguly and Shah because of the impending cooling-off periods. While Ganguly's term is reportedly until July 27, Shah's ended in the last month although no date could be confirmed.
In April, the BCCI filed a second request in the Supreme Court, following the first one last December, asking it to consider allowing Shah and Ganguly to bypass the mandatory cooling-off period which an office-bearer needs to serve after being in an administrative post - at the board or state association or combined - for six consecutive years. The court has not yet taken up the matter.
Given the circumstances, there was a question mark over Shah attending the meeting, but he did so eventually. It is understood that the Apex Council was told Shah was eligible to attend after the BCCI had sought legal opinion from former Justices of the courts. As the board had mentioned in the April plea, the Apex Council was told that the three-year cooling-off period is an eligibility criteria necessary only to contest elections, not once a person was in office.
As it stands, Ganguly and Shah, along with Dhumal and George, have replaced the professional management in the leadership structure and chair every meeting. That goes against the recommendations made by the Lodha Committee that were approved by the Supreme Court in 2016, that the board separate its governance and management. It resulted in Johri and Rangnekar joining as the first professional managers that year.
Johri assumed wider powers during the tenure of the Committee of Administrators (CoA), which was appointed by the court in January 2017 as a supervisory authority to facilitate the implementation of the Lodha Committee's reforms.
Although all the state associations eventually accepted the new constitution, written on the basis of the Lodha recommendations, they objected to several reforms. Last December the BCCI general body unanimously agreed to approach the court to carry out radical changes in the new constitution which would significantly wipe out the Lodha Committee's recommendations.