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HomeSportCricket’s back with BCCI after two-year drama. What was the point, Your...

Cricket’s back with BCCI after two-year drama. What was the point, Your Lordships?

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After two pointless and costly years, where no one but lawyers benefitted, the Supreme Court has reversed some Lodha panel reforms.

When do you know when a turkey has completely lost the plot? When it votes for Thanksgiving, that’s when.

Vinod Rai, the chairman of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) put in place to ensure the reforms advocated by the Justice Lodha Committee but eventually attempted to commandeer the running of cricket in India, has welcomed the Supreme Court order that will render his committee redundant sooner rather than later.

“This is an excellent order by the Honourable Court. I have absolutely no problem with office-bearers having two consecutive terms. Even I had originally wanted a six-year term before cooling-off period but couldn’t get consensus,” Rai told the Press Trust of India.

Even now he does not seem to get the crux of the issue. It is not about him, or what he thinks. It is about what is best for cricket in India, and after two costly years where no one but lawyers benefitted, the Supreme Court has spoken.

The message, which was clear to all but those hanging onto power that they did not earn in the first place, was loud and clear: There might have been plenty wrong with how the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was administering the game, but even that was far better than anything this CoA could come up with.

The key changes that the court, in essence, rolled back, were the ones the BCCI had strongest objections to in the first place.

One State One Vote put Mizoram ahead of Mumbai on the cricket map, and when last anyone checked it was Mumbai who had won the Ranji Trophy 40 out of 67 times the tournament has been played, and produced more Test cricketers than any other state by a country mile.

Also read: Virat Kohli’s 149 was remarkable because he overcame himself for a greater cause

The Lodha Committee had recommended a cooling-off period of three years after each three-year term in office — either at state or BCCI level — in an illogical and spiteful move that was clearly aimed at rendering all those in office in the BCCI ineligible. Why, even now, the BCCI has only one official in place, Anirudh Chaudhry, the treasurer, and two acting office bearers in the president, C.K. Khanna, and the secretary, Amitabh Choudhary.

Justice Lodha only needed to ask himself if he would ever have become a judge if he had to take a break from being a lawyer after every three-year stint and the folly of this directive would have been evident.

The Lodha Committee also mandated a reduction of the selection committee from five to three, while simultaneously increasing the number of teams playing in domestic cricket significantly. India has more first-class teams than any country in the world, and the BCCI conducts over 1,000 official matches at the domestic level across age-groups and genders.

How Lodha and friends thought reducing the number of selectors — the ones who have to actually watch these matches and make decisions that can change a player’s life — would help, only they will know.

The Lodha committee also insisted that only former Test players be appointed to these committees. With the tenure restrictions in place, and conflict of interest clauses having to be adhered to, it would have been impossible to find viable candidates to fill these crucial positions.

On Thursday, the courts reverted to five-member committees and relaxed the qualification criteria. Now, a former cricketer is eligible to be a selector if he has played seven Tests, 30 first-class matches or 10 One-Day Internationals and 20 first class matches.

In its 35-page judgment, available here, the Supreme Court has also decreed that the amended constitution has to be registered with the Tamil Nadu Registrar of Societies within 30 days and state members have to comply with this in the same time-frame.

The constitution of the BCCI, while far from perfect, at least laid down checks and balances for those who ran the game. Even someone who wanted to cling on to power, something that BCCI officials are constantly accused of, had to have the support of his members in order to do so. Unlike now, when a two-person CoA called all the shots, with no system in place to challenge them, purely by the power vested in them by the courts.

Moreover, the constitution of the BCCI is a public document, and anyone working within cricket in India knew where it stood on key issues. To butcher an old saying, better the known devil than … the caretaker who suddenly thinks he is lord of the manor.

To view the court’s decisions as a win for the BCCI over the Lodha Committee or the CoA is short-sighted, while largely being true. The important thing is what was best for the average cricket fan, the cricket player, the scorer, the umpire, the men and women on the ground involved with the game. Over the last two years, the situation at the grassroots ranged from limbo to paralysis, depending on how much a particular state association was willing to bend to the CoA’s breeze. And those winds changed without notice, without rhyme or reason, with no respect for seasons.

Also read: The Indian behind the swing, seam and spin that left India short at Edgbaston

To go back to the beginning, these reforms began as a result of the spot-fixing scandal that rocked the Indian Premier League in October 2013. The Mudgal Committee, also including Nilay Dutta and L. Nageswara Rao, conducted their inquiry and this gave over to the Lodha Committee who were tasked with recommending appropriate punishments to the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals franchises, in January 2015.

A year later, the Lodha Committee submitted its findings, but far from restricting themselves to the job they were given, suggested a raft of reforms impacting the running of cricket in the country.

In July 2016, the court asked the Lodha Committee to form a CoA who would ensure these reforms were implemented and the 18 months that followed were marked by acrimony, pettiness and overall pointlessness instigated by the CoA and abetted by a BCCI which simply refused to roll over and play dead.

Those turkeys have been around forever and a day, and they were not about to vote for Thanksgiving.

Anand Vasu is a freelance journalist. He tweets @anandvasu

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  1. I think the Lodha reforms are a necessity to curb the highhanded attitude of BCCI office bearers. They have always looked at misusing their powers and running satraps. BCCI has also isolated itself at the global level as a bully. Cricket is not a game between boards it involves the passion of fans across countries and accountability to the fans is what the BCCI should be.

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