Chaos, conflict and commotion

Nov 01, 2018, 05:55 IST | Clayton Murzello

That's what Indian cricket administration can do without while Ganguly's 'deep sense of fear and worry' needs to be addressed

Chaos, conflict and commotion
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly gestures at the launch of his autobiography, A Century is Not Enough, in Mumbai on April 4. Pic/AFP

Clayton MurzelloTrust Sourav Ganguly to tell it like it is. Earlier this week, he decided to send a letter (a copy of which seamlessly made its way into the inboxes of some cricket reporters) to the acting president CK Khanna, secretary Amitabh Choudhary and treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to express his anguish over the way things were run by the Committee of Administrators (CoA).

The Supreme Court-appointed CoA has not been welcomed by the state associations (Ganguly heads the Cricket Association of Bengal). For, it has virtually entered their area of dwelling and dictated how to run their house. Why did this happen in the first place? It's because the BCCI didn't run the game in the most transparent way and once the matter reached the Supreme Court, there was always going to be a situation where non-seasoned administrators would call the shots, however unfair it sounded to the tireless administrators who dedicated their lives for the sport.

Those officials were very fine ones, but the lengths of their tenure and age did not conform to the new norms and they had to head to the exit door rather reluctantly. It is here where the BCCI felt severely crippled. Of course, there were some officials who felt it was their birthright to stick on. I heard an amusing story about how one crazy official threatened to indulge in self-immolation if he was forced out of administration. Luckily, he abandoned such thoughts and left the scene without any incident.

While most state bodies have accepted the Supreme Court's orders, there are few — like Ganguly's CAB — who are "partially compliant". And unless all units adhere to the new constitution, there won't be any elections for the BCCI to take fresh guard with new playing conditions as it were.
How long this BCCI v CoA battle will stretch is anyone's guess. The officials want to run it their way, while the CoA believes the state associations must function as per the Supreme Court order of August 9.

The officials could be accused of hanging on stubbornly. At the same time, the CoA is not viewed as flawless. Ganguly points to the size of the committee coming down to two (Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji) when it started off as a four-member committee. Why no replacements were announced by the Supreme Court after Ramachandra Guha and Vikram Limaye resigned is flummoxing.

Since almost nothing can move in Indian cricket without the consent of the CoA, it needs to be more quantitative than just two members. And as Ganguly remarked, the two have differed on the issue concerning BCCI CEO Rahul Johri being accused of sexual harassment. Edulji needs to be applauded for insisting that her views of there being, "sufficient grounds for his (Johri) removal" be mentioned in the press release that the CoA sent out on the night of October 25.

Ganguly also chose to express his displeasure over the process adopted to appoint the head coach of the Indian team. Presumably, he is referring to how the deadline to apply was extended which, as some reckon, paved the way for Ravi Shastri to be appointed. Ganguly says his experience in the coach appointment process was "appalling" and he was in no mood to elaborate.

It must be remembered he had a public spat with Shastri in 2016 when the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) which he was part of, picked Anil Kumble even as Shastri had done a fine job as Team Director. If Ganguly felt the 2017 process was ridiculous, he ought to have quit the CAC once he discovered the unfairness of it all. To now indicate that the present coach was picked through a warped process when he was part of the CAC that selected him is not only too late, but churlish as well. Ganguly was an instinctive leader of his country. I wonder what stopped him from displaying that quality in this specific case?

Indian cricket administration is one fine mess. Yes, the intervention of the Supreme Court can claim credit to an extent when it comes to freeing the game from erosion caused by conflict of interest and getting rid of high and mighty administrators who thought they could be in the inner ring of activity till the eternal umpire adjudges them out.

Ganguly's letter in which he expresses his anguish and fear for Indian cricket must be taken seriously and sportingly when it is passed on to the CoA. Every fan wants to see his favourite sport being run fairly. At the same time, there must be some end to chaos and conflict especially at a time when the Indian team is on the verge of undertaking one of their most important tours in recent years — to Australia — where they are expected to become the first Indian side to win a Test series Down Under.

mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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