Board not only needs a clean head, but also one who will have the strength to negotiate choppy waters and keep his wits about him
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is headless again and doubtless, this leadership crisis will be tougher to fix than the earlier ones. Tougher because the new president will always have an external force over his shoulder in the form of Supreme Court orders. Yes, in all probability, post June, there will be less talk of recommendations, more about orders.
Shashank Manohar, who stepped down as BCCI chief. Pic/AFP
By all indications, Shashank Manohar didn’t fancy himself being comfortable in such a scenario and walked away.
He didn’t feel obliged to stay on because he did not crave another term in the first place. After Jagmohan Dalmiya’s demise, he agreed to be president and he probably believed he had done his share for the BCCI, which was in ruins after N Srinivasan’s ouster and Dalmiya’s passing. Maybe, Manohar believes that cameos do help a team’s cause in a low-scoring game, just like hundreds do in the big-scoring ones. However, several pundits believed that the best batsman retired hurt to the pavilion when the pitch conditions got unplayable.
Manohar won’t return, so the best option now for the Board is to accept the loss and work towards administering the sport in the knowledge that there will be no way out but to follow the Supreme Court directives.
BCCI not only needs a clean head, but also one who will have the strength of character to negotiate choppy waters and keep his wits about him. It is now clear that they cannot function behind closed doors and if they choose the less transparent path, they will be stonewalled further. Anurag Thakur has shown glimpses of being a modern-day administrator in that sense and a young man at the top will be a refreshing change.
Meanwhile, Board supporters appear to be longing for some sympathy because, to them, some Lodha Committee recommendations like one-state, one vote and the age restriction of 70 for administrators chip away at the freedom of an autonomous body. These supporters also want to see some positive press for “the good things” the BCCI has done to enhance India’s cricketing reputation. In many ways, the good things mean the Indian Premier League — where they claim so many talents get showcased and several get employment.
However, the BCCI is still not doing enough to elicit positivity from the fourth estate. The most meaningful part of their media statement to announce Manohar’s resignation on Tuesday could have met Twitter’s word restriction. Wouldn’t it have been fitting for the outgoing president to make a statement as well, to explain in brief the reason behind his resignation? But then, that is so typical of the BCCI.
It is here where the BCCI falls short of expectations (I can hear the cynics ask, ‘You expected an explanation?’). As cricket lovers and stakeholders, yes, we do want to know. Over the last year, the BCCI has got a bit better with communications, but Tuesday was another example where it could have done much better.
The BCCI doesn’t need to curry favour with the media, but open up on key issues. Leave the Lodha Committee recommendations aside; how about apprising the media as to what is being done towards the appointment of a coach for the Indian team? Should everything be heard from the grapevine... Ravi Shastri continuing as Team Director, Stephen Fleming’s chances or the recent reports about Daniel Vettori coming into the mix? It appears all energies are directed towards the IPL and nothing else matters in Indian cricket during the months of April and May.
Back to Manohar. He has contributed significantly in his two terms. In his first, he had to douse the flames of the Lalit Modi saga. In his second, he had to endure the omnipresent threat of an outside force calling the shots in an establishment he helped to nurture. Throughout, he never allowed anything to affect his honest image. Although forced by the brandishing stick of the Supreme Court, he brought about reforms. He was not afraid to make unpopular choices — like reversing the revenue-sharing module of the big three in the International Cricket Council and giving everyone a share of the pie. And when his home association’s pitch at Nagpur for last year’s India vs South Africa Test was declared “poor” by the ICC, he didn’t use his ICC chief clout to defend it.
Manohar was not around for long enough to leave a legacy, but he would fall in the ‘good’ category among BCCI presidents. He’ll also be known as the president who didn’t carry a cell phone.
India’s loss could be ICC’s gain. Good luck, BCCI.
mid-day’s group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org