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Virat Kohli

Rot is deep in Indian cricket and Dada’s letter needs serious handling by the BCCI


Former India captain Sourav Ganguly has written to BCCI expressing a ‘deep sense of fear and worry’ over the future of Indian cricket. Ganguly has highlighted several problems, including harassment charges against BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and arbitrary change in rules mid-season. He even raised the issue of Ravi Shastri and the way he was selected for the role of Chief Coach of Team India that has put the ‘Indian cricket under some heat.’ However, while writing on Kohli-Shastri combo, Ganguly failed to recall how John Wright and Greg Chappel were made Team India Coach during his captaincy. His letter in which he suggests that Indian cricket is in danger is hardly alarmist. While Indians are unlikely to stop watching cricket, any continuation of the present mismanagement will definitely add to the long list of episodes that have eroded fans’ respect for the game.

It is interesting to note that a committee which was made to improve BCCI’s functioning has only made matters worse. This is best exemplified by the manner in which the disagreements between CoA members Rai and Edulji over Rahul Johri have come out in the open.

Ganguly’s letter highlighting the current problems isn’t the first. In his resignation letter from CoA last year, Ramachandra Guha had highlighted the committee’s failure to be transparent. His suggestion to include a senior male cricketer with administrative experience in the committee has also not been considered. Such a step would have ensured better coordination between the BCCI management and CoA.

What is particularly worrisome right now is the concentration of power with the team management. The BCCI technical committee’s recommendation of day-night tests was ignored because the team management didn’t want it. The selection committee selected Karun Nair for the English tour, but the team management didn’t provide him with any chance. And when the man was unceremoniously dropped from the next tour, the captain claimed that such decisions are taken by the selection committee.

Commenting on the Ganguly’s letter former Indian cricketer and current Lok Sabha MP Kirti Azad said, “The issues raised by Sourav Ganguly in his letter are of pressing importance and must be paid attention to. Serious allegations of sexual harassment have been leveled against Rahul Johri, CEO of the board that runs India’s most popular and loved game.” Azad went on to add that when MJ Akbar, a union minister had to resign over such allegations, then it’s only fair to expect a resignation from Johri. On Ganguly’s alarm over Kohli-Shastri combo Azad said, “As far as Ganguly’s qualms over how Ravi Shastri was selected as the national team’s head coach is concerned, I was personally appalled by the manner in which a legend of Anil Kumble’s stature had to tender his resignation.”

The differences he must have faced after his appointment, which led to his sudden resignation, are testament to the state of affairs in the institution. His contribution to Indian cricket wasn’t appreciated the way it should’ve been. Taking dig at the CoA Azad said that the Committee of Administrators (COA) appointed by the Supreme Court has failed to serve the very basic purpose for which they were appointed. They are supposed to frame reasonable rules for the players and the administration. But they act as nothing but toothless tigers.

Agreeing with Azad’s views; freelance cricket journalist Anand Vasu said, “For nearly two years now, cricket administration in India has regressed. While the Supreme Court stepped into the ring with all the right intentions, trying to rid the Board of Control for Cricket in India of obvious conflicts of interest, to limit the scope of people in power clinging onto their positions solely to enhance their own interests and to usher in an era of transparency, what has been achieved is almost the opposite.” The Committee of Administrators and a handpicked few, who have been appointed to positions of power rather than elected by their peers, have taken decision after decision that has backfired. In this leadership vacuum, the BCCI’s standing in world cricket has been greatly diminished and it is only the large fan following, the corporate support for the game and success on the field that has propped up the sport.

For long, those in the know have warned that Indian cricket was headed towards a downward spiral, but those in power, especially Vinod Rai, the chairman of the CoA, refused to take notice. Rather they believed they, and the decisions they took, were beyond scrutiny, and assumed that the courts would back them all the way.

The fact of the matter is that you cannot ignore all the people all the time. And you should not ignore a person like Sourav Ganguly, who has spent a lifetime both on and off the field. The dangers are clear and present. But will anyone in power pay heed?

Norris Pritam, Senior Sports Columnist said, “Ganguly’s mail to acting BCCI president C.K. Khanna and secretary general Amitabh Chaudhary, former India captain Ganguly has indeed raised pertinent questions. No doubt that there is a lack of clarity between the BCCI and the Committee of Administrators (CoA) as Ganguly has pointed out.” The important thing to note is that Ganguly’s mail to Khanna and Chaudhary is not from a cricket fan or even a former skipper. He has written it in his capacity as the president of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). He has to run the day-to-day affairs of CAB, like most other state cricket associations in the country. And for this, he has to constantly interact with the BCCI. But with the BCCI only ‘acting’ and CoA running the affairs where does one go, is the moot question that Ganguly has raised. However, Pritam didn’t failed to recall former Indian skipper that Cricket in India will never die. “But as Ganguly has pointed out, the image of the game has surely been dented,” he concluded.