Shashank Manohar abdication would be escapism

Manohar may have got it right when he restored democracy to the world game.

Shashank Manohar rode in like a knight on a white charger to save a damsel in distress. Cricket, often thought of as the perfumed harlot, was in real peril this time, with Indian cricket on the backfoot, its image having taken a battering from years of abuse by top administrators whose hubris had led to an egotistical confrontation with the top court of the land. So much so, it became a fight for survival for even such a rich sporting body that thought nothing of challenging anyone who came in its way.

If it is true that the BCCI president has now decided to ride on to the ICC, abandoning the home board to the legal gale, it would be a clear case of abdication of duty. “Shashank Redemption” the headlines screamed when the lawyer-cricket admin man came in from the cold, and was pitchforked all at once to the ICC job too. If he decides now to leave the BCCI and get into a cosier job, he would be giving up the board at a time when it badly needs leadership in the face of great adversity in the court, which is ready to thrust far reaching reforms.

Manohar may have got it right when he restored democracy to the world game. He gave up the extra pound of flesh a Shylock-like BCCI was demanding of the world sport, while handing out to the old imperialists, England and Australia, a token share of the additional loot. What that did was to make Manohar popular with the world crowd rather than Indian cricket, which was peeved at losing the extra bucks. If what he did was a principled and selfless act in restoring financial parity, even as it rid Indian cricket of its bully tag, the consequence was such that it showed the president a new route.

The BCCI president could escape from the pressures of Indian cricket and move on to the ICC, which promises a top post for the next few years in a redefined role. At a stroke he skirts the dangers of being ineligible to be BCCI president as he has had two terms already. Also, if the Lodha committee reforms are put into effect, his home association of Vidrabha would be reduced to the status of associate member. What sort of justice is this if the one state of Maharashtra should have four associations – Mumbai CA, Maharashtra CA, Vidarbha CA and CCI? If Maharashtra is made the only one with a vote in BCCI, the President would be with a constituency from which to head the caboodle.

What we can glean right now of Manohar’s possible moves is it is a form of escapism, which is disappointing because there was good reason to believe he would help clean up Indian cricket after its image had been reduced to tatters by his immediate predecessors, including Jagmohan Dalmiya who sought the post despite his age and infirmity in his last innings as BCCI chief. If Manohar moves on, he would be vacating the chair for a person of the Secretary Anurag Thakur’s choice.

Already powerful enough to be virtually running the BCCI on a day-to-day basis, Thakur would simply be taking the BCCI over in its entirety. We have already seen what damage can be wrought if all the power is concentrated in one person. This is exactly what brought upon cricket all its troubles, with the top court seeing through the hocus pocus to determine that all the oldies were simply playing revolving doors. They keep coming back to the BCCI to enjoy the decision making prowess it tends to put in one man’s hands if the person is powerful enough to project himself as the strong man who can rid the game of all its legal troubles. It is probably too late for that now as the Lodha reforms have assumed momentum.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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