Vinod Rai turned 70 Wednesday and many are wondering if the head of Indian cricket, in charge of implementing Lodha reforms, will toe the line and quit.
Mumbai: Veteran politician Sharad Pawar said he resigned as Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) president soon after the Supreme Court-appointed Justice R.M. Lodha committee prescribed an age cap of 70 years for cricket administrators, hinting that Vinod Rai should follow suit.
Rai, the chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed committee of administrators (CoA) for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), celebrated his 70th birthday Wednesday, leaving many in the fraternity wondering if he will resign.
“We respected the Supreme Court’s directive,” the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief told ThePrint. “The very next day after it set the age of cricket administrators to a maximum of 70, I stepped down as president. We will wait and see what those who have taken the responsibility of implementing the Supreme Court’s guidelines do.”
“I am not saying what he (Vinod Rai) should ideally do,” said Pawar. “I am saying we will have to wait and see what happens.”
Pawar has been a force to reckon with in Indian cricket, having served as BCCI president from 2005 to 2008 and president of the International Cricket Council from 2010 to 2012. In 2015, Pawar was re-elected MCA president for the third time. He was 76 when he resigned the following year.
In his resignation letter, Pawar cited the Supreme Court’s decision that officials aged over 70 years should not remain in cricket bodies, saying he was hurt by the observation that people stayed in the BCCI because it was “lucrative”.
The Lodha panel reforms
The Supreme Court set up the Lodha panel in 2015 to clean up cricket after several allegations of betting, corruption and match-fixing surfaced. The age cap of 70 years for cricket administrators was one of the panel’s most controversial reforms and was bitterly opposed by the BCCI.
The court subsequently appointed former Comptroller and Auditor General Rai and three others — former women’s captain Diana Edulji, historian and cricket writer Ramachandra Guha and IDFC managing director Vikram Limaye — as administrators for the BCCI in January 2017. Guha and Limaye have since resigned. The committee was charged with running the BCCI till the Lodha reforms were fully implemented and elections to the board held.
In conversation with ThePrint, Pawar raised questions about the work done by the CoA. “From what I hear about these so-called administrators, and what we have seen in the MCA, which also has administrators, we don’t know what they have done in terms of adding new infrastructure, whether they have facilitated new grounds, new stadiums, new cricketing clubs,” he said, adding that the administration before had written such “success stories” as the IPL.
“We successfully built up the image of Indian cricket as the most powerful in the world. We practically established one of the most powerful cricketing institutions. We started the Indian Premier League, which is now so popular that the whole world watches it,” he said.