Game of Throes - The New Indian Express

Game of Throes

Published: 30th March 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 31st March 2014 12:50 AM

Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most—Fyoder Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment.

Perhaps these are the words that resonate in the world of the Indian cricket board. Or else, who would explain its inability to persuade its president N Srinivasan to step down? No one raised a voice or uttered a word against him.

Finally, the Supreme Court had to intervene to replace him. Everyone saw it (replacement) coming, except perhaps Srinivasan. Whether his judgement was shrouded by sheer arrogance, lust for power or his belief that he was innocent, we don’t know. But what he definitely did was to go against everyone’s perception and continue as the president since his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan’s alleged involvement in the IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal that broke last year.

Whether the Supreme Court’s interim order on Friday will pave the way for a wholesale change in the BCCI remains to be seen. But going by the way the BCCI functions, it seems unlikely. The court order has only set the ball rolling, but it eventually is up to the same board officials, who until now have shown they too don’t have the guts to tell or force its president to step down. The same board officials who are now saying it would have been prudent for Srinivasan to step down last year, managed to do nothing until the court stepped in. Senior vice-president Shivlal Yadav was also part of this set of officials.

Though Yadav, a former Indian off-spinner, has been in cricket administration for a while and knows the functioning of the board, he, however, is seen as a man close to Srinivasan. Though he vowed to work independently, it remains to be seen how far he would be successful in cleaning up the system. For, cleaning up means ruffling a few feathers in the BCCI power block. First, he has to address the touchy ‘conflict of interest’ issue. For this, the BCCI needs to change the rule in the constitution that allows officials like Srinivasan to own an IPL team.

The administrative prowess of the other protagonists—the legendary Sunil Gavaskar—is not very impressive either. That he is one of the greatest cricketers in the history of the game is undisputed. His leadership quality—as India captain—is inspiring as well. But as an administrator, his reputation is not impregnable. His short stints in the Mumbai Cricket Association, IPL Governing Council and even the ICC were not without controversies, and forgettable.

The fact that Gavaskar is on the BCCI payrolls has already created a controversy. Even if his contract is severed, the fact that he might have to go back to commentary after his stint in the BCCI might act as a deterrent to take dispassionate decisions. Will he rid the league of people who have various conflicts of interest? He has to take some tough calls and going by his reputation as the India captain, where he did take some radical steps despite facing stiff opposition, we expect him to take a few this time as well. What will be his plan and whether he succeeds remain to be seen.

Some of the top BCCI officials have already started voicing their displeasure at being kept in the dark about the day-to-day developments during the last three days. It’s too early to predict anything. Slowly but surely a few voices are being raised, but will that be enough to sideline Srinivasan completely? Or will Srinivasan still have a say? It’s a perfect out-of-the-fire, into-the-frying-pan situation for BCCI.

indraneel.das@newindianexpress.com

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