Time for a clean sweep
Shishir Hattangadi Vs Saad Bin Jung
Brand IPL needs to be rebuilt - Shishir Hattangadi
The Supreme Court-appointed Justice Lodha Committee — to decide the quantum of punishment for betting and spot-fixing in the Indian Premier League — has made scathing observations on the Board of Control for Cricket in India along with its findings on the IPL. The committee has gone by the rule book and done what any autonomous committee would have done — it’s been candid and conclusive in its suggestions and judgment.
It is apparent that the custodians of Indian cricket have been told that the popularity of cricket in India is only because of the forgiving spectator who comes in through the turnstiles or watches the game on television. The BCCI has been shown a mirror that it may have been avoiding for a while. A four-man working group has been formed to study the Justice Lodha Committee report and suggest a concrete roadmap based on the same. Restoring the faith of the public and suggesting ways to further cleanse the game should be their main objective. In every challenge there lies an opportunity.
This could be the defining moment for Indian cricket. I hope all concerned will strive hard to take corrective actions and show serious intent in rebuilding brand IPL. A new guard took charge of the BCCI not so long ago. And the first indication of change was that the chairman of the national selection committee, Sandeep Patil, was asked to address the media, something that has not happened for a while.
This is a different kind of a test for Sourav Ganguly to make a difference to the team. He has the stature and commands the respect needed to make his voice heard. Being the only cricketer in the working group, it is unlikely that his views will be ignored. He could make a huge difference in the new vision that the BCCI intends to show to the cricketing world.
The others in the committee are administrators who are familiar with the system. The voting system was earlier manoeuvred to favour a few. But it’s now time to clean up the system. This is bound to ruffle a few feathers but it cannot be ignored. The working group needs to announce loud and clear that the party is over. Sometimes being ruthless is necessary. If the Lodha Committee finds an official was responsible in a surrogate way of covering up or is not being transparent, every possible investigation, criminal and civil action should be taken against him. But if people working in the closed corridors of power are not guilty, they should be reinstated with all respect.
Those who have contributed in tarnishing the name of cricket must pay a heavy price for making the BCCI a laughing stock in the cricketing world. This is a “now or never” situation for Indian cricket. If it is now, Indian cricket will rise slowly before standing tall. If it is never, we may find new lows in the art of hoodwinking audiences, sponsors and broadcasters. Cricket is at the crossroads and the call to take the right turn is now on the working group.
Shishir Hattangadi is a former first-class cricketer
A sword hangs over BCCI’s neck - Saad Bin Jung
Justice Lodha committee has given its preliminary finding on the quantum of punishment to Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise owners Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra, and the teams they are associated with. The laws of the IPL state that if a team owner brings disrepute to the game that team shall be terminated. The panel could easily have done just that and terminated the two sides.
The fact that it gave the teams a two-year suspension and banned the two owners from ever taking part in cricket, proves to me that the Justice Lodha Committee itself does not want to be the be-all and end-all for the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s IPL problems, if it can help it.
It’s acting like an elder brother — holding a mirror to the draconian monopoly called BCCI, and showing the path ahead, how things should be. The way I see it, Justice Lodha Committee, in this instance at least, has taken two crucial facets of cricket and based their decisions on them, the assumption, I presume, being that the rest of the wrongs will be righted if these vital attributes are corrected.
The first is that anything that brings disrepute to the game should be terminated at all costs, cricket comes first and the players, owners and administrators are secondary. The second is that the game should be played both on and off the field by upholding the spirit of the game at all times by the players, executives and the owners.
There has been a huge erosion of trust and today Indian cricket lovers are devastated. The BCCI is only buying time by setting up a working group to study the order of Justice Lodha Committee. As a cricket lover, I want much more. I expect the BCCI to say that it will make the relevant changes on its own accord. I expected the BCCI to have stated categorically that it will now establish a transparent and responsible executive committee that will be answerable for every decision that it takes.
Further, the BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit should be given more powers to ensure that it can investigate both the players and administrators equally. The BCCI should not allow scandals to fester at both the state and BCCI level but examine every complaint filed against a player, administrator or franchise owner and bring it to its natural conclusion.
And last but not the least, the BCCI needs to take immediate action against the stranglehold of sleaze on the IPL and implement strict controls, checks and balances within the system. If the BCCI continues to live in denial and does not take heed of what is expected of it and make immediate corrections, then I fear Justice Lodha Committee will be forced to become the be-all and end-all and make drastic amendments to the constitution of the BCCI, ensuring that it no longer holds a monopoly on Indian cricket. A sword hangs over the BCCI’s neck. I am convinced that action will be taken and cricket will win, with or without the BCCI.
Saad Bin Jung is a former international cricketer, writer, novelist and conservationist