Two years ago, the Supreme Court passed an order, accepting the majority of the Lodha committee recommendations with regard to the BCCI’s administration and functioning. The recommendations haven’t been implemented yet, with another hearing scheduled on Thursday. Talking to The Indian Express from Dublin, where he went to attend the ICC Annual Conference, BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary gave a lowdown on the current state of affairs in Indian cricket.
The CoA has refused to take cognizance of the June 22 SGM, declaring the decisions taken at the general body null and void. How do you react to this?
There are few parallels in history where an authentic, legally sound democratic set-up has been rejected in such an autocratic way. Only in December 2017, a general body had met to deliberate on many fundamental policy issues and those decisions became the basis of major marketing forays, fetching the BCCI unprecedented figures. Suddenly what has happened that the General Body is not acceptable? Till the time a certain purpose was being served by the General Body, it went down well. The moment the General Body was likely not to toe the line, it became unconstitutional.
The CoA had said the SGM notice was issued without seeking the panel’s nod.
They were informed just as the members were informed. Besides, this meeting was invoked as a result of the members’ requisitions in which the secretary could play no role except call the meeting.
You were kept out of the loop when the list of the contracted players had been drawn up. How could there be a selection process without the cricket board secretary convening the meeting of the selectors?
I’m the convener of the two committees that deal with the matter. First, the committee on contracts comprising the BCCI president, secretary and the chairman of the selection committee. No such meeting was called, I can vouch, as I’m the convener. Number two, the senior selection committee itself, also of which I’m the convener… No such meeting was called.
Do you think that player power has risen rapidly in the new set-up? Why is that the Indian team management seemingly has had the final word on issues like pink-ball day/night Test and yo-yo fitness tests?
Because of the consistent violations of the BCCI constitution and the efforts to undermine the office-bearers, an atmosphere has come about where such things (player power) might naturally happen. On the issue of day/night Tests, head coach (Ravi Shastri) is recorded to have sent me a mail, agreeing with the idea. That was in February. So where the team is concerned, the only thing which is recorded is an affirmation from head coach after consultation with players. The rest of what has been said by the CoA was said without ascertaining the facts.
Whose decision was it to bring in the yo-yo test and setting 16.1 as the basic requirement for team selection? If it were the team management’s call, did it have the BCCI’s approval? Do you agree that Ambati Rayudu’s omission was harsh as it overlooked his fitness and IPL form?
The BCCI hasn’t approved any such tests, nor has it set any qualifying marks for selection. I’m not aware whose decision it was (Rayudu’s omission). The BCCI treasurer has written to the CoA in this matter.
The CoA has said you didn’t share the agenda of the ICC Board meeting in Kolkata with the Committee. Also, you didn’t keep them abreast of the developments. Then, you ‘okayed’ the 2021 Champions Trophy’s conversion to a World T20, as according to the ICC, it was a unanimous decision. Also, the CoA insists the decision was taken at the ICC Board level, not the chief executives’ level. How do you respond to this?
Before every (ICC) Board meeting, the ICC Board papers are sent to the CEO for the perusal of the CoA. This time, the same practice was followed. So it’s factually incorrect to make a charge out of this. I’m surprised there’s a presumption somewhere that the decision was taken at the Board level. All policies relating to cricket structures and events are initiated, formulated, deliberated and developed at the chief executives’ meetings. After that, the Board is apprised of it only for confirmation.
At which ICC meeting was the conversion finalised?
Any formal approval is eventually given only at the Annual Conference, though it gets agreed to in principle earlier… A discussion/decision regarding this (CT switch) could have been taken in February and April (ICC meetings), but it gets the final seal only at Annual Conference.
Although the ICC has released the FTP for the 2018-2023 cycle, the new MPA hasn’t been signed yet by the Member boards. Will the BCCI approve MPA, accepting the 2021 Champions Trophy’s switch?
The BCCI has already communicated its intention on June 26 and then July 2 (during the ICC Annual Conference in Dublin) after a unanimous resolution was passed by the General Body. The current position will be brought before the General Body. And the rest will follow.
The CoA has questioned your extensive inland and foreign travel, mentioning your ‘32 days’ of overseas trips in the past five-odd months. Have you filed your reply?
If the CoA is unhappy about the travel, then they got to be unhappy with the BCCI regulations. probably they are not aware that the secretary happens to be the convener of each and every BCCI panel. So what does he do, stay put in Ranchi to please them? Nothing proves it better that those making this allegations have a prejudiced mind. Of course, unmindful of what has been done so far for implementing the Principal Judgment of July 18, 2016, on which I would like them to educate us as to how far they have gone apart from writing emails. For my part, I can tell you that I was able to at least persuade 12 Full Members to go by the Lodha reforms and the principal judgment in writing.
There is a complete breakdown in the relationship between you and the CoA.
They had certified me as the only office-bearer who are making an effort at implementing reforms. But in the garb of supervising administration, if irregular appointments are sought to be made, if decisions not in keeping with the laws are being made, I will not toe the line. The moment that happened, they started differing with me. So it’s something personal.