THE MAHARASHTRA Cricket Association (MCA) President Ajay Shirke has said that he finds the recommendations of Lodha Committee baffling and not very well researched. He was speaking at the Idea Exchange in The Indian Express on Friday.
At the session, Shirke pointed out at several shortcomings from the report. “In the committee, there is a recommendation to install astro turf on the pitches so that the cricket stadiums are accessible to other sports like tennis and hockey, which will generate revenue for the state associations. How does one implement that? If a centre does it, the next day, the International Cricket Council will strike off that venue as an international match centre. I don’t understand how such recommendations get into such a well-researched document ,” asked Shirke.
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He also pointed out at the advertisement-free television recommendation in the report. “If you stop advertisements, the whole revenue comes to an end. There will be a net loss of over Rs 1,000 crore. How do you recover that amount, how do you pay the cricketers? The whole argument that fans are deprived of cricket during ads and it is their right to see what happens between overs is not right . There is so much chaff that it is hard to pick wheat,” said Shirke.
The committee had also stated that a politician could hold a post in the Board Of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI), but a minister can’t. “There has to be some reasoning. My understanding is that the better lot of politicians go on to become ministers,” he added.
Taking on the committee’s One-State One-Vote suggestion, he said, that the history of BCCI is older than Independent India. “We’re about 85 years old. When Ranji started, the geographical ones didn’t exist. Now they say as Maharashtra, Mumbai and Vidarbha play in the Ranji, the state has three votes. Then, what do they want to do?
Give Sikkim a vote by taking Maharashtra’s vote? Is it fair to give a state that has no players, no audience a share in voting by taking the vote of someone who has both the things? How can you relegate a member who has been a part of the tournament for so many decades?” he asked.
Though he had his reservations on many of the suggestions, Shirke said that legalisation of betting is one of the greatest suggestions of the committee and it should be implemented as soon as possible. “The biggest blot on BCCI was fixing. Everything started declining from there.
This suggestion should be implemented. Four years ago, when Sharad Pawar was the president, we went to the government with the suggestion to legalise betting. We told them that it will reduce fixing and generate great revenue. But we were hammered. I will ask the people who’ve recommended this to follow it,” Shirke said.
Asked about the three most important things for the betterment of cricket, he said, we’ve to start with legalising of betting and then build a strong policing mechanism to keep a check on players, administrators and everyone involved in the game.
He added that the infrastructure needs to be developed in order to create better players. “We’ve got a National Cricket Academy. But we need to build a Centre For Excellence, because the academy spreads itself very thin. The drop rate from U-13 to U-18 is over 95 per cent at times. So we need Centre For Excellence where we can focus absolutely on the top players. We’ve enough raw talent.”