Kolkata: On one level, the resignations by all three members of the ad-hoc Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) — Kapil Dev, Shantha Rangaswamy and Anshuman Gaekwad — suggest the acceptance of the conflict of interest complaints made by an Indore-based petitioner.
Their resignations, after all, came once the Ethics Officer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), former Supreme Court judge D.K. Jain, who is also the Ombudsman, sent a notice to the three distinguished former cricketers, seeking their response.
Rangaswamy was the first to resign, followed by Dev (who chaired the CAC). Apparently, Gaekwad did so only because the other two had put in their papers.
The timing of the three resignations, and what it implies, has thrown up a question: Should the CAC’s decision to retain Ravi Shastri as Team India’s head coach now be revoked? Or, at least, reviewed?
Shastri held on to his position in August.
The ball, clearly, is in Justice Jain’s court and he has to decide whether Dev, Rangaswamy and Gaekwad indeed stood conflicted. If yes, that would naturally have consequences.
But has this conflict of interest issue been stretched beyond imaginable limits? Surely, former cricketers are expected to stay involved with the sport in one capacity or the other.
Rangaswamy and Gaekwad played at a time there was either little or no money in cricket. Dev too began his India career in 1978, when the allowances were an embarrassment, forget central contracts.
Later, of course, everything improved.
Also read: Kohli has reduced coach’s appointment to a farce, but there’s a bigger BCCI drama brewing
Why has CoA not defended those it chose?
It is significant that all three in the CAC were vetted by the Vinod Rai-headed Committee of Administrators (CoA) before they sat down, in Mumbai, to interview the applicants.
So, another question arises: Why have Rai and his colleagues, Diana Edulji and Lt Gen. Ravi Thodge (retd), not defended Dev, Rangaswamy and Gaekwad in public? Why did Rahul Johri, the BCCI’s CEO, not do so?
All three were left to fend for themselves.
Moreover, the BCCI has a full-fledged legal team at its disposal. What was the advice given?
Little surprise that Rangaswamy has been quoted as saying: “I don’t know where things are headed in Indian cricket.”
After resigning, Rangaswamy also said: “It was a bit disturbing to receive this notice (from Justice Jain). I didn’t want to embarrass people who appointed me.”
The same petitioner had filed conflict of interest complaints against other top guns too, making some wonder if something larger was at play in the targeting of high-profile former cricketers.
Also read: Virat Kohli’s ‘camaraderie’ with Ravi Shastri makes him India’s most powerful captain yet
Dev willing to help out again
ThePrint spoke to Dev, India’s first captain to win the cricket World Cup and an iconic all-rounder, Wednesday. He had an interesting take.
In fact, despite all this, Dev is not exactly averse to again serving on a similar body.
“If I’m asked to cut trees, I won’t. If I’m required to commit a murder, I will not. However, if I’m asked to do something good either for the country or for cricket, I won’t have a problem,” he said.
“I’m a positive person and my thinking may be different to that of some. I don’t have time for those who possess a negative mindset and have never sweated on a cricket field.”
Dev added: “In my view, conflict of interest comes in when a payment is involved. I didn’t charge a fee, so where is the conflict? I do have a lighting business, Dev Musco, but that has been in existence for decades.”
Then why such an issue?
“The CAC was set up for a specific purpose. Neither I nor my other colleagues on it were sent a letter by the BCCI that we’d be members of a permanent body,” he said.
“Mr Rai has also clarified that the CAC only had one purpose and our work got over the day we decided Shastri would continue as the head coach…
“One has to move on. Good luck to those who think negatively.”
Also read: Shastri practical, Hesson analytical: Details of meeting that picked Team India’s head coach
The complaints against CAC members
Complaints made by the petitioner against Dev are: That he is a director of the Indian Cricketers’ Association (ICA), has served on its steering committee, and is a commentator.
The ICA has been mandated by the Supreme Court. As for the commentator bit, Dev does not have a full-time contract with any media organisation.
Gaekwad has to answer for a “cricket school” in his name, serving on the steering committee of the ICA, and being a member of the BCCI’s Affiliations Committee.
The “cricket school”, it is learnt, is run by Gaekwad’s son, Anirudh.
As regards Rangaswamy, the sole conflict of interest issue confronting her is that she is a director of the ICA.
Despite the resignations, all three still have to respond to Justice Jain’s notice.
Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman resigned from the earlier CAC after notices were served by Justice Jain. Sourav Ganguly, the third member, was given the “benefit of doubt” on the conflict of interest complaints.
With resignations galore, is there not a need for a more realistic appreciation of what exactly is conflict of interest?
“Look, I’m not that intelligent to comment. Leave it to the honourable Supreme Court to decide. What it says has to be respected,” Dev answered.
Also read: ‘Old Boys’ Club’ & hotel ‘indiscretion’ — Why’d ex-Team India manager withdraw 1st email?
Another question for Ombudsman
By the way, in his capacity as the BCCI’s Ombudsman, Justice Jain is yet to rule on an issue of procedure triggered by Edulji’s protest over the appointment of an ad-hoc CAC (comprising Dev, Rangaswamy and Gaekwad) to select the women’s head coach.
Woorkeri Raman got the job last December, after first-choice Gary Kirsten was found to be conflicted.
Edulji protested on two counts: That the earlier CAC was still functional, and when she and Rai differed, how is it that the chairman’s view prevailed when all CoA members are equal?
The CoA only had two members then. Lt Gen. Thodge was brought on board later.
Also read: Family season in BCCI as sons, daughters & brothers of top officials take over state bodies