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Confusion is the BCCI’s ally, hence the need for clarity (Hindu.)

The leadership crisis in Indian cricket administration is being prolonged. There is much work to be done; in fact, the real work hasn’t begun yet. The current uncertainty is anathema to stability.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India can use confusion to its advantage. The delay in naming the Committee of Administrators charged with getting the house in order cannot be good for cricket.

An important home series — against Australia — is round the corner (before that there is the Test against Bangladesh), IPL deals need to be worked out soon, there is the matter of crucial International Cricket Council meetings coming up, and the BCCI remains headless, and largely bodyless too. Indian cricket cannot afford to have inactivity replace over-activity; it is better to have a bad administration than no administration at all.

If the Supreme Court is seeking perfection, that is an impossible dream. Bishan Bedi, rumoured to have been in the Supreme Court’s list that was to be announced yesterday (but now stands postponed), made a point at the Jaipur Literature Festival when he said, “I find it strange that professional sport should be run by amateurs.”

Cricket is serious business in India, and the faith in even well-meaning amateurs has contributed to the current mess. It is time to divest cricket administration of its destructive romanticism. No, players do not always make the best administrators. No, not everyone is keen to “serve” without being paid for their time and effort — this only leads to corruption and lack of accountability.

The time has come to corporatise our cricket. Selectors are paid, coaches are paid, support staff is paid, match referees are paid. It is no wonder then that these posts attract top professionals. Presidents and secretaries, however, do it, “for the love of the game”. Thus do we place enormous responsibility in the hands of many who are incapable of handling it. Or in the hands of those who then hand it over to the people from whom they expect to gain the most in terms of posts, travel, even monetary benefits.

Cricket has been given the opportunity — through the Supreme Court — of modernising itself, of getting rid of outdated notions of how it ought to be run, and ensuring that the events that led to the present crisis are not repeated.

The Committee of Administrators on which so much hope rests has a huge responsibility and months of work ahead both at the nuts-and-bolts and at the policy-making levels. Some of the cricket associations are registered with the Registrar of Societies, some under the Companies Act. The first task of these associations (which will involve general body meetings) is to take the legal route to changing their manner of functioning, backed by their members. This will take time.

It would be surprising if the Supreme Court, the Lodha Committee or the CEO of the BCCI has worked out a list of office-bearers in associations across the country and their eligibility to remain in their posts under the new ruling. Some associations have over 150 office bearers at various levels. Even if we take a conservative 100 as the average, that is nearly 3000 administrators. If, as is suspected, around 80% of that figure is ineligible, that leaves 2400 slots to be filled. And filled with fresh, honest people ready to hit the road running. That’s a dream too. It will take time.

One of the unintended consequences of the current mess is the reluctance of good people to get into cricket administration. Eligibility, stature and integrity do not always come together in the same individual.

With the old guard in the BCCI determined on a scorched earth policy — raising legal questions, firing their guns from the shoulders of others — and the Supreme Court delaying the drawing of a line under its own rulings, much time is being lost. In between, there is the Lodha Committee which issues clarifications which may or may not be binding.

The Committee of Administrators, whose job it is to oversee the changes in administration in the BCCI as well as the various state associations, may not necessarily be the final authority if its job description is limited to “overseeing”. The CEO is the only authority right now with a clear mandate — he looks after the daily work of the BCCI till the administrators take charge.

All that makes for too many layers and too many centres of authority. The possibility of contradictory interpretations is ever present. Is it nine years as office-bearer in either the BCCI and the State association, allowing for 18 years in all, or nine including both (with cooling off in each case)? That took some to-ing and fro-ing.

India ran world cricket till recently, but now finds itself struggling to run its own. That is not a happy state of affairs. Indian cricket cries for clarity and administrators with energy and vision. The road ahead is long; a start must be made soon.


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