On January 30, 2017, the Supreme Court chose four members to implement its detailed order that was to hand-hold Indian cricket as it walked a newly paved path. The mandate of this Committee of Administrators (CoA) was exhaustive: To bring in transparency, effect the recommendations of the Lodha Committee, ensure elections, hand over a cleaned-up system to those voted in and walk away. In the last two long years, however, the reforms haven’t yet kicked in even as the CoA first got depleted and later disintegrated into a chaos of its own making. First, Ramchandra Guha, eminent historian, resigned from the CoA last July after expressing his discontent with the way the panel functioned, and soon, veteran banker Vikram Limaye, too, quit. The remaining two, Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji, have ploughed on but communication between them has broken down, almost irreparably.
The last few months have been spent trying to sort out the internal mess created by the CoA itself. The sexual-harassment allegations against its CEO, Rahul Johri, created uproar and though Johri was cleared by a panel, it ended up widening the rift between Rai and Edulji. It isn’t an ideal working relationship in a team of two that has a crowded desk and has repeatedly missed deadlines. As if their hands weren’t full in dealing with the complications of hosting over 2,000 domestic games, sending jumbo squads abroad every other day, and managing delicate ICC negotiations, the CoA has enthusiastically dived into cricket’s micro issues. They have got into distributing match-day passes, changed domicile rules of players, kept an eagle eye on the foreign travels of officials and also been at captain Virat Kohli’s beck and call — the skipper wanted a few things changed in the dressing room, a coach and the fruit basket, to name just two. Meanwhile, the less glamorous, and more important, job of convincing the BCCI’s local satraps to dismantle their fiefdoms has stayed on the back burner.
This was never going to be easy. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that the court had over-reached. To think that the old BCCI would simply roll away at the sight of the CoA was naïve. The lack of properly laid out procedures, missing stringent protocol, the disconnect between the SC and the shrunk-to-half CoA are factors responsible for this botched-up Clean Cricket operation. Diatribes, suspicion, leaks have flooded in and there is even confusion about who, if anyone, heads this panel. Rai believes he has the last word, an impression that is virulently contested by Edulji. Lodha says he doesn’t see light at the end of the tunnel. There is an urgent need to light up the tunnel first.