It is a well-known fact that the lucrative commercial deals in Indian cricket are mired in conflict of interest whose ramifications are damaging to the sound health of the game. The financial capital of the game has suffered its dangerous consequences in the past and yet, no serious effort has been made to take corrective measures.No one knows the status of the new constitutional framework, called the Justice Lodha panel recommendations, which were to be implemented by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA).
The panel had taken a serious view of these conflicts and given comprehensive guidelines to curb this menace. Instead, all we know with definite certainty is that the two administrators are at each other’s throat, most of the time agreeing to disagree. What is ironic is that a move to get the India captain in its ambit because of the potential misuse of the player-agent relationship has come from the board and not CoA. As no ombudsman or an ethical commissioner has been appointed so far to get BCCI to address these issues, these concerns raised have no meaning.
Given the nature of the power struggle within the board and their best efforts to discredit the divided CoA, any move which drags the biggest star of Indian cricket into this cesspool will be seen as a dangerous ploy to discredit Indian cricket. Yet, the concern is genuine and is in no way individual specific.
The question is, shouldn’t an India captain declare who his agent is and how many other players of his team have been signed by the same agent? More importantly, a declaration should be made whether the captain has any other business relationship with the agent. It has been suggested that whenever there is a discussion on the selection of a player who has been signed by the same agent, the captain should recuse himself from decision making.
All this may appear like an over-the-top reaction which questions a captain’s integrity, but what has to be borne in mind is that there have been too many question marks on a player-agent relationship in the past. It is an open secret of Indian cricket that the agent who looks after the commercial interests of the captain is a power centre in himself. There have been multiple allegations that many players, believing that courting a captain’s agent is the best way to remain in favour, have chucked earlier agents and shifted loyalty.
The Lodha recommendations in itself have created multiple layers to check the potential conflict of interest situations bound to arise under these circumstances. The final arbiter to adjudicate on it is the ombudsman, whose verdict is binding. What has to be understood is that an individual’s integrity is not in question here. It is the principle that no player, even the captain, should be put in a situation where his decision could have a potential conflict with his own interests.
This is something which should be welcomed by all, especially the players as it places them above any suspicion and avoids any ill-conceived, malicious allegations of wrongdoing. In the lengthy list of dos and don’ts that concern the agents of players, the board constitution has many stringent clauses, which make it mandatory for the authorities to first vet all agents before clearing them to represent the players. Have the administrators made any move in this direction? One is not sure.