By Veturi Srivatsa
Three saner people, a cricket administrator and two captains, spoke on the game in the last couple of days, leaving both players and administrators wondering why they cannot be like them.
Inderjit Singh Bindra, a multi-talented sports administrator, underscored the ills that led to the Indian crict board getting destroyed, while Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli showed how they could pool their resources to take Indian cricket to unimaginable heights.
If only the cricket administrators heard Bindra when he pleaded with the then board president Narayanaswamy Srinivasan to step down to save Indian cricket!
Even when the Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee submitted its report to the Supreme Court, Bindra had confided in private that the board should straightaway accept it, seeking modifications on a couple of issues after a thorough study of the recommendations. In the heard mood, there was no one to listen to him.
The bigwig politicians and moneybags in the board were power drunk and thought they would fight the battle legally and politically. They were mistaken, as Bindra said the board could have fought the government but not the Supreme Court, the word of which is law.
Bindra knows a thing or two on both administration as well as law. He could take on Rajiv Gandhi when the late Prime Minister wanted the bureaucrats to pull out of sports bodies. He, alongwith his buddy Jagmohan Dalmiya, prepared the legal brief to take on the state for the opening up of air waves in cricket broadcasting.
Bindra wouldn’t say in so many words but one could get the sense from his viewpoint that the board needed a saner head at the top, not a brash young politician at the critical juncture.
Perhaps, someone like Shashank Manohar should have stayed on till the Lodha Report was implemented with suitable amendments than taking care of his own interests by becoming the first independent chairman of the ICC.
It is clear that the Lodha Panel relied heavily on Shashank and a couple of former cricketers to get the cricketing inputs and refused to budge when asked to have a relook.
In fact, Shashank as ICC head, at no point, appeared to be in a mood to help out the beleaguered board president Anurag Thakur. If anything, Shashank’s replies to the committee’s queries helped to implicate the board chief, showing him in poor light.
What the muddle-headed officials and their legal advisers should have known was that bullying the ICC, mustering support, is a different thing than asking the world body to dismantle own edifice.
After seeing the way Dhoni and Kohli talked about the future of Indian cricket, the two would have argued the board’s case before the Lodha Committee better than all those legal luminaries who eventually ended up apologising on behalf of the officials for their indiscretions.
One can’t readily recollect a captain talking in such glowing terms about his successor as Dhoni did or Kohli about predecessor. The two have set a new benchmark for future captains unlike in the past when senior players only bitched about each other. It is nobody’s argument that everything was hunky-dory or they did not have any healthy differences on cricketing matters.
It is so nice of Kohli to say that Dhoni saved his place in the team when he could have been dropped, or the latter to praise the present team for its potential to win more matches in all formats than the one he had led.
Both Dhoni and Kohli talk a lot more cricket than some of the captains who were hesitant to open up at a media conference. There have been captains who wanted the media to do ventilate their views without attributing to them.
If the board officials spoke to the Lodha Panel like Dhoni and Virat, things would have been a lot better for them as well as the board. They thought their political masters will bail them out.
Surely, the board and its affiliated state units could have given the new set-up a try instead of challenging the Lodha Panel.
Who knows a compact committee of president, vice-president, secretary, joint secretary, treasurer, five executive committee members, on executive member from the clubs and a male and female players’ representative, instead of a jumbo committee, might work wonders in administering the game. They will also have member from the State’s Accountant General’s Office.
Like Vidarbha Cricket Association did, the three-member men and women’s selection committees can also be elected so long as the players meet the qualification criteria.
The last on the changes in the cricket board may not have been heard, but certainly plotting intrigues and hatching conspiracies are not the answer. Transparency and credibility only will strengthen their appeal.
The court can revisit the case and see if there is any scope for making adjustments. For that first the officials must approach Justice Lodha and his two fellow-judges
Bindra is bang on, the experience has been wiped out of the board and it is all because of one man’s vanity.
(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist and the views expressed are personal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)