Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) president Ajay Shirke said he finds the recommendations of the Lodha committee baffling and not very well researched. He was speaking at an Idea Exchange of The Indian Express on Friday. Shirke pointed out several shortcomings in the Lodha panel recommendations. “In the committee there is a recommendation to install astroturf on the pitches for hockey. How does one implement that? If a centre does it, the next day ICC will strike off that venue as an International match centre. I don’t understand how such recommendations get into such a well researched document,” asked Shirke.
He also pointed out to the recommendation of advertisement-free television broadcast of matches as mentioned in the report. “If you stop advertisement, the whole revenue comes to an end. There will be a net loss of over 1000 crore. How do you recover that amount, how do you pay the cricketers? The whole argument that fans are deprived of cricket during ads and it is their right to see what happens between overs is not right. There is so much chaff that it is hard to pick wheat,” said Shirke. The committee also stated a politician can hold a post in the BCCI, but a minister can’t. “There has to be some reasoning. My understanding is that the better lot of politicians go on to become ministers, or so it should be,” he added.
Talking on the issue of one state one vote, Shirke said the history of BCCI is older than independent India. “We’re about 85 years old. When Ranji started, there were princely states and the geographical ones didn’t exist. Now they say as Maharashtra, Mumbai and Vidarbha play in the Ranji, the state has three votes. Then what do they want to do? Give Sikkim a vote by taking Maharashtra’s vote? Is it fair to give a state that has no player, no audience a share in voting by taking the vote of someone who has both the things? How can you relegate a member who has been a part of the tournament for so many decades?” the MCA president asked.
Though he had his reservations on many of the recommendations, Shirke said legalization of betting is one of the greatest suggestions of the committee and it should be implemented as soon as possible. “The biggest blot on BCCI was fixing. Everything started declining from there. This suggestion should be implemented. Four years ago, when Sharad Pawar was the president, we went to the government with the suggestion to legalize betting. We told them that it will reduce fixing and generate great revenue. But we were hammered. I will ask the people who’ve recommended this to follow it,” Shirke said.
Asked about the three most important things for the betterment of cricket, Shirke said one needs to start with legalizing of betting and then build a strong policing mechanism to keep a check on players, administrators and everyone involved in the game. He further added that infrastructure needs to be developed in order to create better players. “We’ve the National Cricket Academy. But we need to build a Centre for Excellence, because the academy spreads itself very thin. The drop rate from U-13 to U-18 is over 95 percent at times. So we need Centre for Excellence where we can focus absolutely on the top players. We’ve enough raw talent.”