Oct 24, 2016

Is BCCI Playing Cricket?

R Jayaraman

Shashank Manohar thought that he will play on a different pitch and hence decided to go to the nets at the ICC. The playing there may be easier, rid of the many bouncers that were getting thrown at the august body BCCI in India, from many quarters. The batting was becoming more and more difficult. To begin with many people were quarrelling with the bat which BCCI was wielding. Many thought that the cricket bat had been changed to a baseball bat, with all kinds of base practices, including stealing bases (this was an old practice in BCCI, nothing new) changing umpires at crucial moments, hitting the ball out of the ground and the dugout becoming a den where players and bettors were interchangeably mixing. Clearly this was not cricket, but perhaps Indian baseball, a new variation of the original.

The baseball diamond was not visible, but Surat diamonds were adorning many fingers of key officials. The great Sharad Pawar, who towered and powered about, for close to many decades had become a pale shadow of his original self. But the other power brokers like N Srinivasan, Shirke, Shukla, Suman Shekar, Ravi Shastri, Gavaskar, Harsha Bhogle were still around. The CSK scandal was consuming the top batting order, in spite of the many no-balls being bowled by Srinivasan. This wily but able administrator, who was the first to bring some sunshine into a cobwebbed organisation, with archaic and opaque practices, began his innings as the Chief of BCCI with many fours and sixers. He brought in the sharing of the booty that BCCI was generating day in and day out with old players, deserving ones, stalwarts who had distinguished themselves in the field and the long suffering cricket associations which were mere pitching mats and crease powder with the earlier dispensations.

However his Achilles heel was quite close to home in the form of Gurunath, his son-in-law, who unfortunately functioned outside the law. While betting was rampant in much of cricket with spot fixing, match fixing, ball fixing etc., it was given to Gurunath to bring down his mighty father-in-law. Even big fish like Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty escaped the batillotine, but the inexperienced and naïve Guru turned out to be a clueless and meek shishya, with the equally supporterless Srinivasan slowly losing his hold. The final insult was that Srinivasan had to be replaced by a person who was already on his bed, the wily long running horse – Jagmohan Dalmiya. He was woken up to head the world’s richest and perhaps most abused cricket organisation, and he had to be helped to walk to reach his office. However this arrangement lasted but a short time due to the sudden demise of the war horse from Bengal and Shashank Manohar was brought in.

By then, the opposition camp had smelt blood and baseball, and went for the middle wicket by petitioning the SC. The opposition camp led by the media and some sports correspondents affiliated to TV channels pushed ahead for the kill and got the Lodha committee appointed through the SC, in spite of no balls called by Manohar and company. The decision of the committee put paid to many of the shenanigans for which BCCI had become famous for by now. For example, to keep out Sharad Pawar, a rule was proposed that no person above 70 could be an office bearer. As yet BCCI has not come out with something innovative. This move by the Lodha committee is a straight lift from the Tata book when Russi Modi was ousted.

That was when Manohar played a googly, he eased himself out of the fracas by slithering into the ICC and leaving the BCCI boat in troubled waters. In stepped Anurag Thakur, a brave soul, but a battle scarred veteran, at a very young age. The SC is, as of now, not playing ball, with BCCI and the two locked in a fierce bouncing wicket which could take a turn for the worse soon. Anurag Thakur and gang could be spun out, could be run out, or could be clean bowled and new batsmen and bowlers called for when the SC comes out to bat for a new innings. Till then we will have a tea break.

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