BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke clarifies that the Indian cricket board is not asking for veto power at the International Cricket Council but is only looking to protect its interest as a financial powerhouse. He also talks about why N Srinivasan remains a respected administrator and why while ICC chairman Shashank Manohar is being politically correct in saying he has to look after the interest of world cricket, the BCCI’s interests cannot be compromised. Excerpts:
There were reports that the BCCI has asked for a letter from the ICC on government interference mentioned in the Lodha Committee recommendations. What is the ICC reply? Can you throw some light on this?
No, no, we have never asked for any such letter. I’m not aware of the exact circumstances in which the entire board was suspended. What level of interferences, what kind of interferences – if they (ICC) are really such a fair and transparent organisation, (I want to know) whether they really have any definition about what constitutes government interferences? In absence of that, there’s every room for a very subjective interpretation. What’s the degree of government interference and what kind of interferences – I’m not aware of that. The Lodha Committee has recommended the appointment of a watchdog – the CAG – at the BCCI and every state association. I’m not personally apprehensive. But we are a member of the ICC and there’s no clarity regarding what tantamount to government interference. But the BCCI hasn’t asked for any letter or sent any in this regard.
You went to Chennai and met N Srinivasan. What was the discussion about?
I went to discuss cement (laughs). Look, Mr Srinivasan and I have been very good friends throughout our entire administrative career. When I resigned (from the post of the BCCI treasurer in the aftermath of the 2013 IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal), I resigned because I had a difference in principle. But you might have seen that after so many inquiries and commissions which are on record, nobody can point a finger at Mr Srinivasan for any kind of financial mismanagement or corruption. Even his worst enemy will agree to that. So naturally, he is a senior person, he is a highly respected administrator and our meeting took place on that periphery. Our relationship is not based on our differences. Our relationship is based on what we shared, which is much more than the differences.
Shashank Manohar has confirmed that the BCCI is going to get a seat in either of the two main ICC committees, finance and chief executives, post the Annual Conference next month. Is Srinivasan an option for the BCCI to be India’s representative at the ICC?
At this point of time, there’s no such discussion. It’s for the (BCCI) president and members to decide. If the members feel it would be in the interests of the board, we will take a decision.
Where does the ‘Big Three’ stand now? Does it exist or it has been dismantled?
This ‘Big Three’ or ‘Big Four’, whatever it is, I don’t have any in-depth knowledge about that and therefore, I don’t want to comment on that. But India is a global power in cricket and India’s position cannot be compromised. And see, when Mr Manohar says he doesn’t belong to any member boards – that’s fine. That’s a politically correct statement he is making. He is that kind of a person that whichever organisation he is in, he will only look after the interests of that organisation. But organisations are dependent on other organisations.
When he was the BCCI president, did he say that ‘I will only look after the interests of the BCCI and not look after the interests of any particular member’? Also, you have to notice, when the amendments were made to the ICC constitution, he was the president of the BCCI. In fact, Tamil Nadu Cricket Association had given a letter (regarding India’s revenue share reduction in the ICC) which wasn’t properly replied.
What’s the status of the BCCI’s review petition against the Supreme Court’s July 18 order?
It has been filed. Some technical issues that were there, that have been sorted out. Now it’s for the court to take it up.
The BCCI was supposed to file an application before the apex court. What is it related to? Has it been filed?
Whatever remedies are available in law, we will exhaust all of them. When this application will come on public domain, it will be shared by everybody. It hasn’t been filed yet. It’s in the process.
Manohar has said that as an independent ICC chairman, he has to look to the interests of 105 countries. It’s for the BCCI representative to look after the interests of the Indian cricket board. What is your reaction?
Not at the cost of one country… Even in a family, you cannot treat one child unequally and when it happens to be the most important child – the highest earning member of the family. We are not asking for any veto power. When have we demanded a veto power? How can there be the veto power?
Manohar has also said that if the lion’s share of the ICC revenue goes to the BCCI as per the Indian board’s demand, then same principle should apply in Indian domestic cricket also. For example, why shouldn’t Mumbai have the veto power and bulk of the revenue?
That example is misplaced. Here it’s two-tier. One is the common revenue scheme, where the BCCI markets the broadcast rights. Then, the second revenue scheme is the independent revenue scheme, which is limited to the associations. And when has any single association of the BCCI said that they should have excess revenue compared to the other associations?
Granted a seat at the ICC finance or chief executives committee, will the BCCI withdraw its threat about pulling out of the Champions Trophy in England next year?
All these committees were modified once and they were changed again, when Mr Manohar wasn’t the independent chairman of the ICC. Pulling out is the extreme scenario. We still believe in reasonable methods, we still believe in negotiations and we still believe in fair play.
Based on the feedback from the Duleep Trophy, is there a chance that India would be playing a day/night Test against England or Australia this winter?
To be really honest with you, it’s still not decided. It’s still open. The feedback is good. I haven’t heard of any difficulties. The tournament report will come only after the final. And everybody is there; playing, watching – all the selectors are there; let’s see how it goes.