In their epic report that promises to change the fabric of the way Indian cricket is run, the Lodha Committee has also made a few suggestions which may not be as radical as the ‘one state one vote’ but may still raise eyebrows. Some raise doubts over their execution and monitoring, some involve practicality, one protects the BCCI monopoly over the game, and at least one seems rather draconian. Like the recommendation that all players should declare their assets for example which can open a can of worms. The Indian Express looks at some of the steps presented as solutions, with a fine toothed comb, in the report that can in all likelihoods create more problems.
Players have to declare assets
Report: “The Players, Administrators and others closely associated with the sport would be required to furnish the details of their incomes and assets for the sake of transparency.”
On one hand the Lodha report fights for player rights and rues the balance of power towards administrators and then they hit the players with this harsh suggestion. A modern-day player was astonished when the clause was put to him. “What? Are you serious? This is crazy. Isn’t this a breach of privacy? Does Messi have to declare the properties he has bought? Does this happen anywhere in the world? I pay my taxes, my earnings from the game are publically known – the prize money, how much i get in my contract and stuff like that. Over and above that, should I be telling other people what I do with my money? I pay my taxes, and that should be enough. This also drags in my family members, doesn’t it? If the properties are shared or whatever, then I am bringing their details also in the public?
“I don’t understand the need for this. If something goes wrong – I remember the Sreesanth incident. He was asked to explain some money allegedly found with him or something like that. Then one gives bank details, or transaction, which explains that money. That should be okay, no? Just let us play the game peacefully. There is no bank account if I am not playing!”
Mohinder Amarnath, one of the persons recommended in the report to create a player association, chose to be cautious in his reaction. “These are all recommendations at the moment. I don’t believe in ifs and buts. Let’s see what happens. Only then I can give you my observations.”
The players can at least sigh in relief that Lodha committee didn’t accept another recommendation of Justice Mudgal report. That draconian one read thus: “Strict control of telephonic access; only cellular telephones issued to players by the BCCI should be allowed and details of calls made and received should be available so as to allow monitoring by the BCCI.” The player just laughed in disbelief when this suggestion was put across.
Captain can make a wish
Report: “The Captain, however, shall not be entitled to vote. In the event of there being no majority agreement over the selection of the players, the Captain’s wishes in that regard shall prevail.”
This one is a touch confusing. The report says the Indian captain won’t have a vote in team selection but if the selectors are unable to decide, the captain’s wishes will prevail. As Amitabh Bacchan might have said, ‘Hyin?!’.
Scarcity of selectors?
Report: “Only former Players who have represented the Senior National Team in Test Matches shall be eligible to be appointed to this Committee, provided that they have retired from the game at least 5 years previously. The senior most Test cap among the members of the Committee shall be appointed as the Chairperson.”
The committee wants only Test cricketers as selectors and they will select teams across all formats. The T20 generation might see it as elitist and snobbish but it might have some other practical implications. There have been 285 Indian Test cricketers in all, and unless you bring back the dead, and make the old, and unfit ones, up for the job, you are left with too few candidates.
More importantly, and worryingly, would this lead to a selectoral base that will revole around the historically stronger Test cricketers base from Mumbai, Karnataka, say? Would these powerful cricketers helm the selection panel, doesn’t that lead to a possible bias when it comes to decisions?
No Parallel leagues possible
Report: “No Member shall participate or extend help of any kind to an unapproved Tournament. No Player, Umpire, Scor er, Official or other person associated with the BCCI shall participate in any unapproved tournament. The Apex Council shall take appropriate action including suspension and stoppage of financial benefits and any other action against individuals / Members contravening the above.
“No member or a Club affiliated to a member shall conduct or organize any international Tournament or International match/matches in which foreign players/teams are participating or are likely to participate without the previous permission of the BCCI.”
This is tricky. On one hand, the honourable judges hum and haw about monopoly of cricket in BCCI’s hands and then they throw the kitchen sink at any entreprenerial activity that could join hands with willing, and interested, cricketers. They say that players can be banned if they play for any “unauthorised” tournament. Forget playing, they will be in the dock even if they extend “help of any kind”. It’s so vague that it can be abused with glee by the administrators.
CEOs be worried
Report: “There would be a maximum of six managers to assist the CEO who would have expertise primarily in the streams of Operations, Finance, Technical, Compliance (legal), Human Resources and Media. The CEO would be on contract with the BCCI and have a fixed tenure of five years (unless the contract is terminated by mutual agreement or by a 3 months’ notice by either party), whereas the Managers will be career employees.”
They say a CEO, in charge of running the affairs of the board, will be appointed for 5 years and given 6 managers to work with. So far so good. However, once the CEO retires after five years, the managers can continue working. Will they get so entrenched in the system by then that they might actually hamper the new CEO? Will we have a ‘Yes Minister’ like television situation on our hands?!
Cap on agents’ commission
Report: “The agent can’t charge no more than a maximum agent fee of 2% of the total annual revenue earned. … No borrowing of money from Players.”
It’s a good initiative to get the agents registered and checked out by the anti-corruption units, and even asking them to pass an examination over ethical policies. It’s slightly dicey – or cute – to say they should not borrwo money from players. How are they even going to monitor what goes on between two persons who are bound to develop a relationship as their work progresses over time?
No functions at stadiums
Report: “To make the existing stadia amenable to other sports by providing for alternate surfaces to be laid (Astroturf for hockey, Carpet for tennis, etc.) so that income may be generated and there would be all round development of sport, care being taken not to damage the pitch. But they should not be used for public functions where thousands will stomp on the ground.”
The commitee suggests the existing stadiums should create astroturfs for hockey, carpet for tennis and rent out the ground to make more money. They shouldn’t hold public functions where thousands will stomp on the ground. That looks pretty decent but what if thousands don’t stomp on but a sizeable number conduct themselves peacefully at the ground.
For example, the Karnataka State Cricket Association, under the presidentship of Anil Kumble, held flea-market fairs, that are in vogue these days, to their club members on the ground, by the boundary lines. It was a peaceful affair, and families had a lovely weekend. Should that be banned now? World over, historic stadiums like Lord’s in London, MCG in Melbourne, allow for even weddings to be held in their stadiums.
They have the right to make money as they see fit.