Kolkata: What made Sunil Subramanian withdraw a damning letter, fired off by way of an email, within 24 hours of sending it to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)?
Was Subramanian, Team India manager until the recent tour of the US and the West Indies, compelled to do so by those in the BCCI castigated by him in the first email?
Also, why this silence from the CoA, comprising chairman Vinod Rai, Diana Edulji and Lt Gen Ravi Thodge (Retd)? Have they even discussed it internally?
ThePrint is in possession of both emails from Subramanian, a much-experienced former player who coached Ravichandran Ashwin at a point in time.
Subramanian’s first email exposed the poor manner in which the BCCI is being run at a time it is packed with so-called professionals.
In particular, Subramanian nailed CEO Rahul Johri, better known as Rai’s blue-eyed man, and his “office”.
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Actually, Subramanian’s second email has not in any way lessened the significance of the issues raised by him in the first.
“I have lost faith in the current CEO,” figures pretty much at the start of Subramanian’s first email. He has slammed Johri and his office under three specific heads: Handling of the controversy-creating ‘Swachh Bharat’ video shoot in Trinidad & Tobago, inappropriate behaviour by a member of the support staff with a housekeeping staffer in the team hotel at Antigua, and the delay in the payment of his dues August onwards. Delay in the final settlement from the BCCI too.
Last month, Subramanian was interviewed, but not given a second innings. Obviously, key men in the BCCI did not want him around.
Even if one discounts the last head under which Subramanian has torn into Johri (who, by the way, was not the No.1 choice for the job back in 2016), the issues and questions raised under the other two heads merit attention.
Excerpts from Subramanian’s first email:
- “To cover up for the negligence of the CEO’s office (Swachh Bharat video shoot)… My reputation and integrity were tarnished. Media leaks of my apology letter were made from the CEO’s office, clearly breaching clause 11 of the service agreement… The only reason an apology letter was sent was on the insistence of the same by Mr Gaurav Saxena from the CEO’s office. It was complied with as I did not want a needless controversy in the middle of an already poorly-organised tour wherein issues of the basic comfort of the team needed to be addressed first…”
(The shoot for a Government of India promotional took all of four hours and led to a practice session being “skipped”. In its lead-up, Subramanian was painted as the villain of the piece, following a needless complaint to Rai by some member of India’s diplomatic corps.)
- “In hindsight, I have no reason to be apologetic over the issue… I am truly shocked by the powers that be who contrived such a situation… Does the BCCI seriously expect the manager to organise the team for such a major off-the-field event during an overseas tour based on a WhatsApp message from an official of the Indian Consulate in Trinidad? Transcripts of my WhatsApp chat are available for scrutiny…”
- “The BCCI’s internal administrative functions are casually messaged ‘Mr Vinod Rai has spoken to Virat Kohli’
… Should not the CEO’s office have briefed the manager about the Swachh Bharat shoot earlier? The leaked media reports, quoting sources, have obviously emanated from the BCCI and, dare I say, were defamatory in nature…”
- “My email (to Johri on 10 August) conveniently was not leaked by the CEO’s office, but my apology letter under duress was…”
- “Pardon me, but given the style of functioning I have endured from the BCCI, and particularly from the CEO and his office, it wouldn’t be out of place to state that the CEO’s office functions in a manner that does not require a manager but an administrative and accounting assistant. Not honest and credible past cricketers or coaches of repute…”
- “Also be noted that there was no recce operation undertaken prior to the tour, because of which basic issues were piling up from venue to venue from the beginning. The hotel in Fort Lauderdale (Florida) was substandard, no meals were served on a four-hour chartered flight from Fort Lauderdale to Georgetown, missed baggage on the flight from Georgetown to Port of Spain and the team had to wait for four hours in the lobby of the hotel in Port of Spain before the allotment of rooms…”
- “Any manager’s first priority is to deal with issues on the basic comfort of the team, which were thoroughly compromised till the team settled down in Port of Spain…”
- “The role of the logistics manager on tour needs a review… Logistics professional needs to be appointed. It is appalling that training assistants and masseurs of the team perform most of that role. The role of the current logistics manager (Rishikesh Upadhyaya) is not aligned to industry standards…”
- “Despite reporting in my post (first Test) match report on an incident of inappropriate behaviour of a member of the support staff with an employee at the Sugar Ridge hotel and my calling up Mr Gaurav Saxena and bringing the same to his notice, the concerned member is still very much part of the team…”
- “I am beginning to wonder if this is some kind of Old Boys’ Club in the CEO’s office that has its own clique to protect or are they dismissive or disdainful about such transgressions? The inaction of the BCCI on a matter as grave as this is beyond belief.”
That is explosive from Subramanian, but why the “beyond belief” comment from him?
One cannot, after all, forget that Johri himself survived as CEO only because of Rai.
Indeed, the inquiry into allegations of misconduct against Johri did not return a unanimous verdict in his favour. Moreover, Johri had to undergo “some form of gender sensitivity counselling/training”.
Question is: How many organisations would have retained an employee requiring what was recommended by inquiry committee member Veena Gowda?
Maybe, Rai has the answer.
Now, excerpts from Subramanian’s second email, sent Friday:
- “This is in connection with the email sent yesterday on issues with the BCCI. It is never my intention to attack any individual personally.”
- “I have to state I have been under extreme personal pressure, with my mother passing away three days back, after suffering for months from cancer.”
- “The reference to the Old Boys’ Club was purely in the context of some members of the support staff not doing the work expected of them.”
- “As regards the indiscretion of the member of the support staff (in Antigua), it would be best if he has a word spoken to on not to repeat such indiscretion in future.”
- “Kindly withdraw the letter sent.”
Come to think of it, the second email from Subramanian is no less damning: All members of Team India’s support staff have not been doing their job, one member of the support staff figured in an act of “indiscretion”.
Facts do not lie.
Surely, Rai and his colleagues in the CoA must order an inquiry.
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Inquiry against whom? Themselves? They will never do it…
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