With just a week left to go for the start of the India-England Test series in Rajkot, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has taken the unprecedented step of asking the host associations whether they can afford to stage the matches allotted to them.
Apart from Rajkot, the other four Tests are scheduled at Visakhapatnam, Mohali, Mumbai and Chennai. The Saurashtra Cricket Association, which hosts the opening fixture, has indicated that they don’t have any problem in organising the match.
The board, facing heat from the Supreme Court over its perceived reluctance to accept the recommendations of the Lodha Committee, has also claimed it was forced to cancel the solitary warm-up match for the visiting team as the court has barred it from disbursing any funds to its member associations.
But BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke, who made the claim, did not mention the dates and venue of the practice match as well as the opposition for the Englishmen. There was no mention of any warm-up match in the tour itinerary, which was one of the reasons England had to make two changes for the second Test against Bangladesh to provide more players in the squad to get a feel of sub-continental conditions before the series against India.
The board has also said due to the restrictions put by the apex court, they were yet to sign an agreement to incur hospitality expenses for the visitors.
As per the Supreme Court’s October 21 order, the BCCI is barred from releasing any funds to state associations until they implement the Lodha reforms in toto.
No clarity on BCCI-ECB MoU
Alastair Cook and his Test team are expected to arrive in India on Wednesday, but a Memorandum of Understanding between the BCCI and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) hasn’t been signed yet. And without an MoU in place, uncertainty looms over who will pay for the England cricket team’s expenses.
“We couldn’t organise a warm-up game because it had to be assigned to a state association,” Shirke claimed. “The BCCI had to provide the association with the cost of hosting the game. The order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court says that the state units shall not be given any money ‘for any purpose whatsoever’ and the BCCI has to follow the Supreme Court order. In my letter to the Lodha Committee, I mentioned the issues related to the England series in the whole list of pending contents. We haven’t received any response yet.
“In its October 21 order, the court has asked the Committee to set a threshold limit for any contract. Now, MoU is also an agreement and without the Lodha Committee’s approval we can’t sign one with our English counterpart. We are clueless about who will bear the expenses of the England cricket team. We seek direction from the Supreme Court-appointed Committee because the whole matter has been put in their hands by the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” Shirke said.
“I have even sent letters to all five Test centres, asking: ‘Please clarify if you are in a position to host the matches?’ I’m waiting for their replies,” he added.
In its letter to the BCCI president, dated October 29, the Lodha Committee had asked for “unambiguous and unequivocal letter of compliance” from the cricket board to help carry out the apex court’s October 21 order.
“In the absence of the unambiguous and unequivocal letter of compliance from the President duly undertaking on behalf of BCCI to unreservedly comply with the order of Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 21.10.2016, the Committee anticipates (having regard to the consistent stance adopted by the BCCI that it has issues with regard to reforms concerning governance) that there would be impediments in carrying out the order dated 21.10.2016,” the letter said.