Cricket board is caught in a cleft stick!

The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) is, perhaps, the only unit affiliated to the Indian cricket board to have rejected almost all the recommendations of the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee on fair governance and accountability.

It was only expected of the DDCA to reject the recommendations lock stock and barrel when others state units have problems with certain portions of the comprehensive report prepared at the Supreme Court's will.

The DDCA has the temerity to say that so long as its directors -- it is registered under Companies Act -- do not feel that there is any justification to change the system for the sake of uniformity it will remain as it is. Thus it also wants to continue with the obnoxious proxy voting system.

The Delhi association has a problem with every clause and does not want to change as it has perfected the art of circumventing the existing laws/rules/regulations over the years.

The apex court did not stop at accepting the committee's report suggesting structural reforms in the functioning of the board in a clean transparent manner. It is firm on its implementation.

Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla gave little room for the board to vacillate in implementing the recommendations without any reservations, saying since the committee held extensive deliberations with all stakeholders there should be no difficulty in accepting them.

The cricket board did not say anything immediately and had a long pause before murmurs started from state associations about the practical difficulties they will face in complying with the report.

The court kept the door ajar by asking the board to file its response before the next hearing on March 3. It also said in no uncertain terms that if the board has any problems in implementing the recommendations it will ask the Lodha Committee to ensure the implementation!

After the court has made its intention clear, the board has been left with little scope for any manoeuvre unless the committee agrees to listen its pleas and tweak some of the recommendations.

Two weeks after the Supreme Court missive, the board called a Special General Meeting (SGM) on Friday, but did not take up a clause-by-clause discussion, saying that the state associations sent in their observations and the board has its own.

So the board decided to file an affidavit through its secretary explaining why some of the recommendations are unimplementable and at the same time asked the state units to do likewise on the clauses affecting their functioning.

The board is identifying the people who have fed the committee with some weird inputs and wants to impress upon it that most of the people who deposed before it have been at it for a number of years.

The board officials may name some lawyers, former players and event management companies who they feel have a grouse against the board and used the opportunity to settle scores.

The board anticipated the turn of events and will now flood the court with a spate of affidavits expressing their points of view over implementation of the report.

They may cite hurdles in implementing the one-state one-vote norm, age cap and term of office and a cooling off period between two terms, funding players' associations and including franchise owners in the Governing Council of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

However, the board will explain the issues that can crop up in changing its registration and amending its bye-laws as it claims it can not dictate to the state units to change their constitutions. That's the reason the states have been asked to file different affidavits.

Maharashtra, Mumbai and Vidarbha, Saurashtra, Gujarat and Baroda are unwilling to lose their voting rights and so are the Universities, Raiwlays, Services, Cricket Club of India (CCI) and National Cricket Club (NCC).

Removing Services, Railways and Universities will in one stroke take away the government's influence over the board to a large extent. These three votes invariably titled the balance in the election. One can understand the CCI remaining as a voting member, but certainly not the NCC.

Mumbai and Saurashtra also do not want to lose their key officials, president Sharad Pawar, 75, and secretary Niranjan Shah, 71, respectively under the 70-year age cap.

Most of the state associations have also expressed reservations about a three-member selection committee saying it is well-nigh impossible for them to cover the entire country with more and more states joining the board. Strangely, this is one of the demands made for ages to remove regional bias.

The court stated that it could keep the Lodha panel alive so that it could help the BCCI overcome difficulties it might face in implementing the recommendations. Justice Lodha might become to the board what Justice Mukul Mudgal is for the DDCA!

Some senior office-bearers of the board are miffed at one-man one-post norm as they do not want to lose their grip over their state associations which give them the clout to get into the board.

As is the case in this country, someone is already working to circumvent the recommendations just as a loophole in then sports minister Margaret Alva's government guidelines permitted the czars of Indian sport to retain their control over the federations in some some capacity after finishing their term as president/secretary/treasurer. Here, the Lodha Committee is clear that there has to be a cooling off period after one term in any capacity.

It will not be easy for the board and its affiliates to convince the Committee to diluting the report, but at the same time, it will find it difficult to implement.

The board is caught in a cleft stick!


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