When the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Sanjay Manjrekar, Dilip Vengsarkar and Irfan Pathan met the Committee of Administrators to discuss the conflict-of-interest rule, it threw up a few heated moments. While Ganguly led the argument that the board should rethink the rule, at least one former Mumbai player disagreed with him. While Ganguly’s — and the majority of the players’ — view was that they should be allowed to don multiple roles as administration and commentary stints don’t result in any untoward influence, the former Mumbai player said that a player should choose one role and stick to it. It triggered an argument before the CoA informed them that the board will take a final call on the matter.
The meeting was called by Diana Edulji and Ravi Thodge, part of the Supreme Court-appointed panel, to understand the players’ concerns. Rahul Dravid was absent from the meeting and VVS Laxman pulled out due to ill health, but others like Ajit Agarkar, Parthiv Patel, and Rohan Gavaskar attended.
The conflict-of-interest rule has had a major impact on cricketers holding multiple positions. Dravid is has been served a notice from BCCI’s Ethics Officer DK Jain in regards to a conflict-of-interest case and a reply has been sought after a complaint by Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association member Sanjeev Gupta. Laxman and Ganguly too were hit in the past with conflict-of-interest charges and asked to choose between roles in the Indian Premier League, Cricket Advisory Committee, and other posts.
The Lodha Committee recommendation of ‘one-person-one-post’ was accepted by the Supreme Court and subsequently drafted into the new BCCI constitution. The rule means an individual will attract a potential conflict-of- interest case if he/she holds two positions at the same time.
Most of the cricketers felt commentary shouldn’t fall under the conflict-of-interest clause. Another senior player argued how the board needs to clear Dravid as in the past, players have taken leave from their respective companies to take on assignments with the board.
“Many felt if you get a long-time contract from BCCI, you can’t hold two positions at a time and that individual can come under the conflict-of-interest rule, but if a player get a short-time contract, that individual should not come under a conflict-of-interest rule,” a player present in the meeting said.
It was cited that BCCI, in the past, had sacked or not handed new contracts to former players after new regimes took over, and that there is no job security in the Indian board.
One former player argued: “Coaching stints are always short in BCCI but to be an employee with any company is lifelong. Tomorrow if the regime in BCCI changes, there is no guarantee that BCCI wants the same set of coaches to continue.”
Parthiv, Rohan, Agarkar and Pathan spoke on behalf of current players doing commentary which, as per BCCI constitution, can be deemed as conflict of interest. Players argued how many don’t play IPL and are non-contracted cricketers playing only a few months of domestic cricket. Ganguly is the mentor for Delhi Capitals, which has players like Rishabh Pant in the squad. Ganguly is also president of the Cricket Association of Bengal and also did commentary during the World Cup.
Pathan suggested that BCCI should allow cricketers to hold two or three posts at one time “but only one post should be of decision-making that can make or break careers.”
After the discussion, Edulji said that a paper will be compiled for the amicus curiae to put forward to the Supreme Court.