Notwithstanding the rollback on a few clauses, the BCCI’s re-re-worked and SC-approved new constitution will see Indian cricketing taking fresh guard with an all-new playing XI. The most significant of the tweaks concerns the “cooling off” rule that changes the dynamic of the BCCI’s powerplay forever. It ends Indian cricket’s “timeless” era. Regardless of their influence or popularity, there is now a limit on the years the cricket office-bearers can keep warming their hot seats. The fiefdoms will have to fade away. The consequences of this change will finally open the iron gates outside of that exclusive sports club, also known as the world’s richest cricketing body. It wasn’t easy, it needed several pushes from the country’s highest court.
The two-year-interlude — Justice Lodha submitted his recommendations on July 18, 2016 — was fraught with confusion and chaos. This was the period when the BCCI did its best to resist the radical transformation from an inclusive and hierarchical joint-family set-up to a more accountable, even professional organisation, with a clearly demarcated structure and equitable sharing of administrative powers. The new BCCI will be more inclusive with a players’ body in place, besides an ombudsman, election and ethics officers, and a player-agent accreditation system. This is expected to infuse the board with much-needed freshness and vibrancy. The newly-elected body — the court has given a 120-day period for conducting the election — would also restore both stability and credibility.
If the chances for progressive change are greater now, that is because the proposed reforms are less utopian and more practical. Yet, it’s preposterous to think that the reforms would make the BCCI into a ideal sporting body. The old hands wouldn’t easily surrender their clout, would look to keep pulling the strings from behind the curtains, and manoeuvre their way to the corridors of power. For, no system is immune to manipulators and schemers. Off the field, Indian cricket’s biggest challenge will be to fight the past and lay out the future, while proving that the leopard has indeed shed its spots.