Sunday, Oct 02, 2022

Reinvent the board

New BCCI president has spoken well. Now he must act on his promises.

Shashank Manohar, Shashank Manohar BCCI, BCCI Shashank Manohar, BCCI president Shashank Manohar, Shashank Manohar elections, BCCI special general meeting, BCCI SGM, Board of Control for Cricket in India, Cricket News, Cricket Shashank Manohar (L) was the only person nominated for the post. (Source: PTI)

As first impressions go, Shashank Manohar couldn’t have made a better one at the commencement of his second stint at the helm of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). For once, here was a BCCI president talking real reform. Mercifully, he didn’t dish out banal recommendations, like banning IPL cheerleaders and after-match parties. He talked about opening up the BCCI to an external body to conduct investigations. The new BCCI president wasn’t vague, he seemed to have a plan. He spoke about appointing an independent auditor and hinted at roping in an ombudsman to sort out the plethora of conflict of interest issues plaguing the board. This was a first — the club was admitting the idea of outside scrutiny. Manohar has shown the right intent, but can he and his colleagues implement the lofty reforms that are being promised?

For the BCCI’s overhaul, the walls need to fall and a new, sturdier foundation laid. For now, Manohar’s apparent zealousness to kick in changes may have a reason. The Justice Lodha Commission, the Supreme Court-appointed panel that is expected to suggest constitutional and structural changes to the BCCI, is breathing down his neck. In the months to come, the commission will make its recommendations public. By swiftly putting his best foot forward, Manohar can make things less embarrassing for both the BCCI and the judiciary. He can spare the most influential cricket board an arduous court-dictated rewrite of its rulebook even as the SC is saved from coming across as an over-reaching authority meddling in the affairs of an independent entity.

Still, the BCCI will need constant monitoring and periodic assessment. Even Manohar’s rise to the top cannot be counted as a democratic success for the BCCI, nor can it be put down to meritocracy. It’s obvious that powerful politicians are still the ones pulling the strings. Only that can explain how a board that seemed riddled with factions till a few days ago can suddenly be united, and end up with an unopposed candidate. Not long ago, N. Srinivasan had nearly the entire board in his control, there was hardly any voice of dissent within the BCCI. Later, the deceased Jagmohan Dalmiya wasn’t said to be healthy enough to keep pace with the hectic running of the board, and yet again, no one spoke up. Coalition-based politicking and tacit support of those unseen powerful men ensured that Srinivasan and Dalmiya enjoyed a majority whenever there was a head count. The BCCI can only claim to have embraced true democracy when the president is picked on the basis of who he is and what he has done for the game, not who he’s being backed by.

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First published on: 06-10-2015 at 12:04:25 am
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