My anguished cry on Twitter to disband the Committee of Administrators (CoA) evoked sarcastic response from those who had all along maintained that courts had no business to interfere in the functioning of sports bodies. Despite its widespread acceptance, there were still many who felt that the Justice Lodha panel recommendations were not worth implementing. Since the Supreme Court whole-heartedly approved the reforms, there did not seem to be any escape route available for the BCCI administrators.
As a vocal supporter of these reforms, not only had most of us welcomed the new rules and regulations but even applauded the stand taken by the court. Almost two years have passed and nothing has changed. Far from the new constitution being in place, with a new set of people governing the world’s richest cricket body, status quo continues, the only difference being that now the board is governed by a super constitutional authority called the CoA. This four-member body appointed by the Supreme Court to oversee the implementation of the reforms got reduced to two — Vinod Rai and Diana Eduljee — after two members resigned. Eminent historian and writer Ramachandra Guha was the first to raise a red flag, quitting the panel and criticising the manner in which his colleagues were functioning. He wanted the CoA to do its job of getting the board to implement the recommendations, without trying to take administrative decisions on behalf of the board.
Guha’s exit made no difference as Rai, famous as the man who brought to light the UPA government’s complicity in the 2G corruption scandal, did not mend his ways. Along with former cricketer Eduljee, he has continued to not only run the board but has also taken certain cricketing decisions he had no business taking. They are constantly at loggerheads with the board, be it the decision to not play a day-night Test in Australia or allow the Indian captain to skip a Test match to play county cricket in England.
Rai has the reputation of being a competent bureaucrat whose integrity may be beyond reproach, but that does not qualify him to take cricketing decisions that would impact the game in the long run. When the Supreme Court appointed the committee, its brief was not for it to become masters of the board. They were to simply work out the mechanics of how to get the reforms in place in as short a period as possible.
To be fair to Rai, the court too has not been very firm in forcing the board to comply. They are hearing their appeals, and giving all indications that they are amenable to dropping certain provisions in the Lodha recommendations. This has only emboldened board members to be defiant and keep stalling the reforms.
We have now reached a stage where the BCCI and CoA keep squabbling in public and this never-ending spat is the reason why I feel status quo is better than this half-baked attempt to set the errant boys right.
No one who wishes Indian cricket well would disagree that Justice Lodha did a commendable job in preparing a certain set of guidelines which are needed to making the BCCI's functioning accountable and transparent. However, none of us foresaw, that even after being ordered to do so by the highest court of the land, we are nowhere near a final resolution. All we have seen is that one set of administrators has been replaced by people who also are accountable to no one. If the status quo has to continue, it is better that the board be governed by its own people. We don’t need it to be run by cricket fans innocent of the impact their decisions may have on the overall health of the game.