Ramchandra Guha who resigned as a member of the COA, has said in the letter to Vinod Rai that the body’s failure in stemming instances of conflict of interest – namely former players like Sunil Gavaskar – is a major point of divergence with the rest of the members. Pointing to the example of Gavaskar, whose commentary duties are in direct conflict with his other role as head of a player management firm, Guha said despite his repeated warnings, no action has been initiated for several months.
“I have also repeatedly pointed to the anomaly where BCCI-contracted commentators simultaneously act as player-agents,” he wrote in the letter to Vinod Rai. Quoting from a media report, Guha had written: “Sunil Gavaskar is head of a company which represents Indian cricketers while commentating on those cricketers as part of the BCCI TV commentary panel. This is a clear conflict of interest. Either he must step down/ withdraw himself from PMG completely or stop being a commentator for BCCI,” the mail had stated.
Guha had added in the mail, that taking prompt and swift action was both just and necessary. “COA’s credibility and effectiveness hinges on our being able to take bold and correct decisions on such matters. The ‘superstar’ culture that afflicts BCCI means that the more famous the player (former or present) the more leeway he is allowed in violating norms and procedures,” he had written.
Guha stressed that one reason the issue had lingered was because several of the game’s ‘superstars’ had been guilty of it. “The BCCI management is in too much awe of these superstars to question their violation of norms and procedures,” he added in the letter to Rai. Explaining the workings of this faulty system for years, Guha wrote, “For their part, the BCCI office-bearers like to enjoy discretionary powers, so that the coaches and commentators they favour are indebted to them and do not ever question their own malpractices and mistakes. But surely a Supreme Court appointed body should not be intimidated by the past or present achievements of a cricketer, and instead seek to strive to be fair and just.”
Guha added that the problem trickled down further into the state associations. “One famous former cricketer is contracted by media houses to comment on active players while serving as President of his state association,” he added, while citing other instances of players serving as office-bearers in one association and as coaches or managers in another. Guha reckoned that had the COA been more proactive in stopping this conflict of interest, it could have had the ripple effect downwards putting pressure on the state associations.