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THE OUSTED top-brass of the BCCI seem to have commenced their ‘non co-operation movement’ against the Supreme Court’s order by firstly trying all means to disrupt the cricket season that’s presently underway. Having failed to coax the Cricket Club of India from not hosting the England one-day team’s two warm-up matches, they are now finding new ways to create a hassle.
It’s learnt that the BCCI are likely to not agree to the Mumbai Police’s demand for Rs 60 lakh as security cover for the two games, meaning that they’ll be played in front of empty stands at the Brabourne Stadium.
This on a day, two beleaguered state associations expressed their sudden inability to host international matches. Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) informed the BCCI that they could no longer host the one-off Test against Bangladesh next month owing to a lack of funds. The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), seen by many as the flag-bearers of the imminent rebellion, have also written to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri that domestic commitments will not allow them to host two four-day games between India U-19 and England U-19 in February.
The confusion regarding the bandobast fees to the local police authorities though is an unprecedented issue if not almost unheard of considering how often matches have been held at CCI. According to those in the know the original fee for a warm-up match was around Rs 10 lakh, which CCI is prepared to pay. But it’s the presence of a number of high-profile stars in the India A ranks, which includes MS Dhoni in his first outing since resigning as captain in ODIs and T20s, that has apparently convinced the police authorities to hike the fee.
“The police informed us that they expect more than 15,000 fans to attend the match and as a result they’ll have to employ more police personnel than usual. Hence the demand for a higher amount,” said a source.
Considering the two matches — Dhoni will captain India A in the first game with the team featuring other big names like Yuvraj Singh and Shikhar Dhawan — are warm-ups, CCI will get Rs 1 lakh from the BCCI as hosting fees. And it’s learnt that they have now approached the Indian board to sort out the issue. The Mumbai police too have been asked to deal directly with the BCCI, since they are the ones making all the payments. But with the BCCI likely to shoulder arms, it’s very likely only CCI club members will be at hand to watch the high-profile practice matches at the ground. The rest might have to depend on television.
Meanwhile, in his letter to Johri, TNCA joint secretary RI Palani, writes, “At the outset we thank you for allotting the India-England under-19 matches at Chennai between 13th and 16th February and 21st to 24th February 2017. However, we regret to inform you that we are unable to host the matches at Chennai due to various domestic programs schedule during the period.”
When contacted, Palani revealed that their local cricket schedule had been affected greatly due to cyclone Vardah that hit Chennai on December 12. A number of matches had to be rescheduled as a result, he claimed, and the TNCA was now suffering from a tremendous shortage of grounds.
“Our league games are still to get over. As we organised the TNPL, our league cricket is still pending. We have a shortage of grounds now, so we thought we should inform BCCI about this. So we wrote a letter to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and marked a copy to other BCCI staff members including MV Sridhar and Ratnakar Shetty. We normally don’t refuse in this manner but already we have had to postpone a number of our league games, which need to be held now,” Palani told The Indian Express.
On the other hand, the HCA, an association known to be a close aide of Srinivasan—who’s seen as the man behind the newly-formed nexus of cricket administrators who have been ousted by the Supreme Court order on January 2—also wrote to Johri about their issues regarding the Bangladesh Test being held in Hyderabad.
That leaves the BCCI in a fix considering the HCA is scheduled to hold its election on January 17, and it’s likely that the board will wait for the new regime to take over in Hyderabad before taking a call. Narendra Goud, who is the acting president of the HCA, though denied having sent any such letter to Johri. Sources in the HCA though insist that the letter had been sent by one of their office-bearers. In the midst of all this confusion, a team from Cricket Australia will be in India on Monday to do recce for the four Test matches that Steve Smith’s team are set to play here in February-March. And interesting days lie ahead, considering that each of the four venues hosting those Tests against Australia—Pune, Bangalore, Ranchi and Dharamsala—belong to associations which till recently were led by those very officials who are presently plotting a revolt from behind closed doors.
PIL for selection meet?
Some ex-BCCI functionaries are considering legal options against the Indian squads selection for the ODIs and T20 internationals against England. The squads were picked on Friday with the BCCI CEO Rahul Johri convening the meeting.
“As per the BCCI constitution, only secretary and joint-secretary are authorised to convene selection meetings and president’s approval is required after squad selection. That’s the law. You have enough cricket lovers in this country to challenge it. Taking legal recourse (against the selection process) remains an option,” a former BCCI official told this paper. The selection meeting was delayed, because Amitabh Choudhary wanted to convene it. But the Lodha Committee clarified to Johri that the “disqualified” BCCI joint-secretary stood ineligible as he had already served nine years in his state association, JSCA.
State units to file curative petitions
THE 23 state units who met behind closed doors at a posh Bengaluru hotel on Saturday evening handed former BCCI president N Srinivasan full power to draw a roadmap for them. They also decided to form small groups and file curative petitions in the Supreme Court to get clarity over why the apex court modified certain vital sub-clauses in its January 2 order.
The sub-clause related to the alteration that was made in the order with regards to the maximum duration of a cricket administrator’s tenure. While it earlier read, “A person shall be disqualified from being an Office Bearer if he or she has been an Office Bearer of the BCCI for a cumulative period of 9 years.” On Tuesday, the Supreme Court made a modification and the second half now reads, “Has been an Office Bearer of the BCCI or a State Association for a cumulative period of 9 years.”
There was confusion among the members whether completing nine years as an officer-bearer of a state association immediately disqualified them from being an office bearer of the BCCI. The misunderstanding, especially concerning the eligibility of Amitabh Choudhary, even ended up delaying the Indian team’s selection meeting on Friday by a few hours.
“Although Amitabh Choudhary has completed nine years as an office bearer of a State Association, he has not completed nine years as an office bearer of BCCI,” CEO Rahul Johri had written to the Lodha committee while asking for their permission to go ahead with the meeting.
It took a clarification from Lodha committee secretary Gopal Sankarnarayanan to clear the air as he wrote back saying, “It is clarified that Chaudhary stands disqualified and is no longer the joint secretary of the BCCI or an office bearer of the BCCI or a State Association by virtue of the orders of the Supreme Court dated 2.1.2017 and 3.1.2017.”
Already in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s January 2 order, the BCCI is left with no office-bearers. And the functioning of the board is presently being handled by CEO Rahul Johri. But the modification in the sub-clause that deals with eligibility of board officials, will pretty much leave even the offices of the various state associations empty with most of their members having held their posts for well over the stipulated nine years.
There was a consensus among members, who attended Saturday’s meeting, on waiting for the SC to appoint the new committee on January 19. That time would be spent filing the various pleas in the SC.