The Board of Control for Cricket in India has been cornered. In muzzling the board’s financial powers to buy loyalty, its member associations have been placed in a situation in which they have to comply with the reforms recommended by the SC mandated Lodha panel or face a future without funds. The board’s reluctance to accept reforms to bring in transparency and accountability while dismantling an old favour system is what landed it in its current predicament. The final deadline given by a top court bench headed by the CJ makes compliance mandatory. It leaves no more room for the recalcitrant attitude of cricket officialdom that recognised no authority except the power of its ability to milk the game’s popularity for billions of rupees.
The board’s head honcho is himself in deep legal trouble after having toyed with the manoeuvre of using the good offices of the International Cricket Council to promote the idea that judicial intervention would be tantamount to government interference and lead to the BCCI being disaffiliated from the federation. It is this attitude of defiance of the top court by fair or foul means that brought such a comeuppance on an arrogant BCCI. Led as it was down this garden path by expensive lawyers, the BCCI finds itself facing an existential dilemma. The only light at the end of this tunnel is the reform process.
The crux of all the trouble was the basic conflict of interest the BCCI invited upon itself by allowing an office bearer to own an IPL team. In anointing him later as the ultimate benefactor of the game and pledging unfailing loyalty to a man whose son-in-law was caught betting on IPL matches virtually from the team dugout, cricket had got itself ensnared in a web of deceit. One official’s hubris was sufficient to bring upon the BCCI the wrath of the courts. The dilatory tactics have played out and events have moved on from several rounds of obiter dicta to firm orders. The board can no longer be in denial.
The road ahead is one of compliance with judicial orders and a fresh start in which probity becomes the priority. Questions can be raised over whether the court is overstepping boundaries in legislating as in making politicians and anyone above 70 years ineligible to be BCCI office bearers. It is not possible to put a sweeping reform process without some grey areas, but what the court appointed panels headed by retired judges Mukul Mudgal and Rajendra Lodha did was to show the way forward to a future clear of the kind of problems the BCCI invited in elevating its key executives into demigods. The writing is on the wall and it is upto the BCCI to reinvent itself placing the interests of the game ahead....