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The voting landscape of some major state cricket associations might witness a radical change if player-members earn voting rights in their respective state bodies. Mumbai will expectedly offer the most complicated pattern because of its consistency in producing India players. The ever-increasing presence of Uttar Pradesh cricketers in international cricket means that the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA), too, might have to deal with completely different voting equations in the future. Then, there are associations like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Hyderabad and Delhi; with many former international cricketers under their wings.
There’s still ambiguity over voting rights for player-members and different interpretations have been forwarded, but we would come to that later. First, an overview of how things might change. Take the case of Mumbai that has 33 living former international cricketers at the moment. As per the Lodha Committee recommendation, they automatically become the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) members. If this group of 33 cricketers unite and vote enmass then the faction could become all-powerful in terms of picking the officials to govern the state unit. Incidentally, at the 2015 MCA presidential election, Sharad Pawar had defeated Vijay Patil by 34 votes.
Uttar Pradesh at the moment has nine international cricketers, past and present combined. If the state’s fantastic upsurge continues, there will be more in the future. So in a decade-and-a-half, there could be a case that former cricketers just might make 24 districts, the existing voters at the UPCA, insignificant. The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) has 181 voting members at present – 150 clubs and 31 districts. And the state has around 20 living former India cricketers. In a close contest, the former internationals can tilt the balance, although an ex-TNCA office-bearer believes that their addition won’t have much significance.
The likes of the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) might not be that much affected by player-members inclusion as voters, for they already have close to 1,000 members. In a state like Bengal, with international cricketers few and far between, player-members are unlikely to make an impact, should they have voting rights.
The proposed scenario, however, takes us to the fundamental question; do the player-members enjoy voting rights in their respective state associations? This paper has already reported how ambiguity remains with regard to voting rights of two former international cricketers, Salim Durani and Gagan Khoda, ahead of the Rajasthan Cricket Association elections on April 26.
“There are several eminent players who have represented the state or the nation or even captained national team who have no membership, while huge number of persons totally unconnected with cricket but are merely interested in club house facilities are given membership. This should be changed. All players from a State who have represented the Nation or the State (played in Ranji Trophy or other National/State level tournaments) shall be given automatic membership in the Cricket Associations of the respective States,” the Lodha Committee recommendations said.
According to a source close to the Committee, former international players would naturally have voting rights after being incorporated as members in their respective state bodies. A former office-bearer of a South Zone association concurred. “All members enjoy voting rights at the AGM and it makes the former players eligible voters as well. But the Lodha reforms will have to be implemented at the BCCI first followed by the states,” he said.
A cricket board functionary begged to differ, drawing attention to Para 61 of the Supreme Court’s July 18, 2016 order. “Composition of the State Cricket Associations remain unaffected, and so does the right of those forming such Associations under Article 19(1)(c),” the order said. According to the BCCI member’s interpretation of the judgment, the state associations would be at liberty to decide if they want to incorporate former international cricketers as new members and allow them voting rights.