Updated: August 3, 2015 10:15:09 am
Seeking to finally address the problematic issue of conflict of interest in Indian cricket, the BCCI recently wrote to all cricket associations to sign an undertaking on the matter, and plans to get the players to sign up too. On Sunday, it put a player agent accreditation system in place.
Holding the associations to the undertaking, however, may be easier said than done, with several retired international cricketers likely to find it tough to continue in their BCCI posts. If Roger Binny’s three-year stint as national selector may end — his son Stuart was given a Test cap under him — other past stalwarts such as Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman have lucrative contracts with IPL franchises, or have connections with firms managing players etc, that clash with their BCCI duties.
The BCCI’s undertaking, that stops members of cricket associations from having any commercial interests associated with the game, comes at a time when the Justice Lodha committee is looking into organisational reforms in the body.
A look at the BCCI members who may run foul of the undertaking:
Anil Kumble: Chairman, BCCI’s technical committee, he is Mentor, Mumbai Indians, and co-founder of Tenvic, a company in the business of sports training and consulting.
Brijesh Patel: Chairman, BCCI’s new area development committee, and secretary, Karnataka State Cricket Association. He is Head (Cricket Operations) for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Ravi Shastri: Director, Indian cricket team, and contracted to the BCCI as commentator. Last commentary assignment was the ongoing Ashes. He is Member, IPL governing council.
Sunil Gavaskar: Contracted to the BCCI as commentator.
He runs Professional Management Group, a sports marketing agency that has signed on a number of cricketers, including Mumbai batsman Sarfaraz Khan.
Sachin Tendulkar: Member, BCCI’s cricket advisory committee, he is Mentor, Mumbai Indians.
Rahul Dravid: Coach, India U-19 and India ‘A’, he is Mentor, Rajasthan Royals.
V V S Laxman: Member, BCCI’s cricket advisory committee, he is Mentor, Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Sourav Ganguly: Member, BCCI’s cricket advisory committee, and a broadcaster. Last commentary assignment was the 2015 ICC World Cup.
Sanjay Bangar: Coach, Indian cricket team, he also coaches Kings XI Punjab.
While Laxman and Kumble refused to comment and others did not respond on the matter, Brijesh Patel said an exception should be made for cricketers. “The Supreme Court said that cricketers, former and present, could be involved in the game in a professional capacity. So there should be different rules for them. The whole issue needs to be discussed in the general body. You’re talking about my involvement with Royal Challengers Bangalore. But what about Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble, who are part of the Mumbai Indians set-up?
What about Dravid, who looks after Rajasthan Royals? Laxman is with Sunrisers Hyderabad. There’s no point targeting cricketers because the BCCI appointed them despite their IPL contracts. I think we should wait for the Lodha committee report before taking a decision,” Patel said.
The administrators too are confused on the matter. Some are of the view that cricketers should be treated on a par with administrators and not allowed to hold mutually conflicting roles while others believe cricketers should be excused if they are deemed to be contributing to development of the game in any form.
Ajay Shirke, former IPL governing council member and BCCI treasurer, is on the side of cricketers. “My personal opinion is that a cricketer’s direct involvement with the game is not conflict of interest. They’re contributing to cricket through coaching, commentary or representation in the (BCCI/state association) committees. They’re facilitating the cause of associations or cricket board. They’re nurturing our next generation. This is different from owning a team or having stakes in something with strong commercial interests.
There has to be some rationale. If the cricketers stick to their primary job and contribute to the game, then I don’t think there’s an issue.”
However, BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah feels the yardstick “has to be the same” for everyone. “In fact, we need more clarity on the matter. The letter I’ve got mentions only the president and secretary of state associations… Personally I don’t have any problem giving the undertaking. They’re doing this for the sake of transparency and integrity. But we need to know if (BCCI) committee members and players too are in the loop. The next working committee will discuss this,” he said.
A top BCCI official admitted the issue is “very delicate”. “It’s imperative we take everything into consideration. We are taking legal and administrative advice,” the official said.
The conflict of interest issue has caused severe consternation in the BCCI and the Supreme Court came down hard on this in its IPL spot-fixing verdict. Former president N Srinivasan had to leave office because of his involvement with Chennai Super Kings.
Following the order, his successor, Jagmohan Dalmiya, had said, “The BCCI is concerned and determined to safeguard its integrity.
Therefore, an introduction of a comprehensive Code of Conduct/Ethics by BCCI that determines and defines the most important core values for behaviour and conduct within BCCI as well as with external parties to ensure that administrators and officials are aware of the importance of their duties and associated obligations and responsibilities could also be a possibility in the near future.”
Then again, Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly etc were brought in at Dalmiya’s insistence as he stressed on using their experience for Indian cricket. He also approved Shastri and Bangar’s roles as team director and coach respectively.
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