Two days after he sent in his resignation as BCCI president from the cool climes of Mahabaleshwar where he was vacationing, Shashank Manohar has smoothly slid into the chairman’s chair at the ICC. Neither the resignation after the shortest tenure in BCCI’s history nor the ICC role – he was elected unopposed through a secret ballot by the ICC — was an unsurprising development. Though a section in BCCI are reportedly disappointed and couched the transition as leaping off the burning deck, Manohar found backing from Sharad Pawar.
There are two camps of views regarding Manohar’s stint with the BCCI. Some are disappointed that he jumped ships, leaving BCCI grappling with uncertainty, while his supporters see him as a man who tried to do his bit to reform and appease the courts.
In the week he was elected as president, Manohar had met with the Lodha committee during their inquiry into BCCI’s modus operandi, and as soon as he took over as president, he tried to introduce a few reforms. An independent ombudsman looked into several conflict of interest issues of the members, more transparency was attempted by putting constitution and tenders on the official website, and a CEO too was roped in as per the Lodha recommendations.
His critics outside the board, point to Lodha committee’s observation on Manohar’s efforts. In their report, Lodha committee referred to Manohar’s early initiatives thus: “While we believe that these proposals are in the right direction, we find that they are not comprehensive and substantive.” His critics inside the board point out how he shortchanged India in the proposed revenue-sharing model with ICC. His decision as the ICC chairman to scrap the 2014 revenue-sharing model that favoured the ‘Big Three’, was disliked by a large section of the BCCI and the associations. Doing away with the restructuring (a six per cent cut) means the BCCI would be receiving about Rs 1,000 crore less per year.
His supporters see the same as a compliment. For them, its a reform-move, the one that will disabuse India of being a bully, and ensuring a fair share of the revenue among all the countries. In other words, the supporters say, Why be a bully, why not be fair and do what’s right for the cricket world at large?
It’s been reported that the 59-year old Manohar was fine with the age limit of 70, proposed for BCCI posts by Lodha committee, but he wasn’t comfortable with the other structural changes. If SC gets its way, the working committee would turn into an Apex Council with non-BCCI members like a representative from Comptroller and Auditor General of India having a seat in it. Some big clubs like CCI and National Club of Kolkata would have lost their voting rights, North-Eastern states would become members, fixed tenures were set, and other conditions were set which perhaps didn’t go down well with him.
In the past, he has said there was nothing wrong with the BCCI’s constitution. “I don’t think there are lot many flaws in the constitution…no and I don’t think there is anything wrong in the constitution.” Supreme Court obviously doesn’t think so.
Manohar’s supporters include the ICC members and foreign press who warmed up to him after his statements and moves to push for equality among countries. His philosophy regarding revenue-sharing, that he shared in official ICC meeting too, was best expressed in an interview last November. “I don’t agree with the revenue-sharing formula, because it’s nice to say that India (BCCI) will get 22 per cent of the total revenue of the ICC, but you cannot make the poor poorer and the rich richer, only because you have the clout. The ICC runs cricket throughout the world.
Secondly, there is another angle to it which nobody has thought of. India generates money because the other countries come and play in India. “
The section within BCCI who are upset with him resigning would probably be not too surprised. Some might see a pattern in it. In 2013, when Manohar submitted an affidavit in the High Court to clear his name from the cases filed against the BCCI by the Enforcement Directorate, the BCCI members had raised the matter in an AGM as they saw it as Manohar leaving the rest in a fix, and trying to save his own reputation. The then secretary Sanjay Patel had even made their displeasure public.
All in all, it was an interesting short tenure as president. The cynical will see opportunism but the neutrals might not agree. Pushed by Supreme Court panel, Manohar pushed for some reforms that weren’t seen as enough by the Lodha committee. Whether his conscience pushed him, or his sense of timing and reading of the occasion pushed him, he has undoubtedly made the right moves within the ICC. Can a neutral really question the morality in a more equitable revenue model? Can a neutral question the need for an independent chairman of ICC? Even though there might be some gripes within the board, Manohar has read the moment well and made the right moves that has paid off for him.