Shastri urges dialogue between BCCI, Lodha Committee

Ravi Shastri, the former India captain who served as the team director between 2014 and 2016, has said that the Lodha Committee should continue having a "dialogue" with the BCCI, rather than pushing it into a corner

Ravi Shastri, the former India captain who served as the team director between 2014 and 2016, has said that the Lodha Committee should continue having a "dialogue" with the BCCI. Shastri also suggested that the committee should not "push" the board into a corner over the implementation of reforms as that could prove to be "detrimental" to Indian cricket in the long run.
"If you try and push it immediately it might just be detrimental at this moment of time," Shastri told his former India team-mate and co-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar during an interaction that was part of India's 500th Test celebrations. "There are certain areas where I thought you can still have a dialogue with the Lodha Committee because those are things, if applied, it could take the game back. It could be detrimental."
Since the release of the Lodha Committee's report in January this year, the BCCI has been stoutly defending its position that some of the recommendations would damage Indian cricket on the field as well as financially. However, the Supreme Court on July 18 upheld the committee's report, making it mandatory for the BCCI to implement most of the recommendations. The committee has set two deadlines for BCCI and state associations - September 30 and December 30 - to implement the recommendations, failing which the board and its state units could be held in contempt of court.
Shastri said that he did not agree with the recommendations of a three-year cooling-off period for administrators, an age cap of 70 years for officials, and trimming of the national selection panel from five to three members. Incidentally, the BCCI had also declared its reservations on the cooling-off period and age-cap recommendations.
Shastri termed the three-year cooling-off period harsh and believed it could dissuade players who wanted to move into cricket administration. Instead, he suggested, administrators could be allowed an initial term of six years.
"Why would I want to join the BCCI? Why would any player want to join the BCCI? If I have an idea that is something constructive that I can do, contribute [and] in three years you are telling me to go. What can anyone achieve in three years? How do I know the guy after [me will be] competent enough? If I have done a competent job, I should be respected for my competency. Six years is no harm. After that, if you have to sit out for three years [and] come back for another six, fair enough."
Shastri opposed the age cap for administrators saying there was "no substitute" for experience. "We have got a couple of guys in the board [who are] 70-plus but then, forget a youngster, they'll give anyone from any field a run for their money. I am not targeting anyone or anything," he said. "I have seen them working, people know who I am talking about. They are outstanding."
Shastri also supported the BCCI's decision to stick to a five-member national selection panel, instead of the three-member panel suggested by the Lodha Committee. At its annual general meeting earlier this week, the BCCI appointed a new five-member selection panel chaired by former India wicketkeeper MSK Prasad. Shastri stated that applying a model practised by countries like Australia was not suitable for a more densely populated country like India.
"When I played the game, I thought three selectors was enough. But today the way the game has evolved, with the three formats of the game, the interest that exists in the country, the combined number of people that play the game in India is more than the population of all the countries that play cricket together," he said. "So if Australia has three selectors that is fine - they have 17-20 million people. Here you are asking the poor guy too much. He will get serious travel miles. He will go from one end to other end of the country and still not be able to do the job. I think five is still in order."
Shastri said there was no need for a "boxing bout" between the committee and the BCCI. "It shouldn't be like a boxing bout. A genuine effort should be made ideally from both parties to have a dialogue on certain things. Most of the recommendations are anyway accepted and the board is trying to do something."
Shastri feared that if the Lodha Committee remained adamant, Indian cricket could be set back by "five years".
"If things were that bad, you wouldn't have achieved what you have achieved. We are celebrating the 500th Test match," he said. "You won two World Cups. You were the No.1 team in the world. So all cannot be wrong. Yes, there might have been areas where you need a whack on the backside to be corrected.
"We want Indian cricket to carry on. We don't want it to go back by five years. We don't want this team to suffer after five years. There will be total chaos. Other teams will get the upper hand. And then again you will have to try and climb up the ladder."