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Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Shadow of the Glory

Scandals involving betting and fixing in the game of cricket are international phenomenon. So far at least five cricket betting scandals have been reported. With the arrest of Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan in mid-2013, the spot-fixing scandal in cricket hit India. Judicial intervention in the form of an inquiry under Justice (retired) Mukul Mudgal started in October 2013. Later, Supreme Court set up a committee of three retired Supreme Court Judge headed by former Chief Justice R. M. Lodha. The committee submitted a report - now popularly known as the Lodha Committee Report - advising radical changes in the governance of BCCI - a club synonymous with cricket in India.
The Supreme Court instructed BCCI to implement Lodha Committee report by end-October 2016, but BCCI kept on delaying it on the pretext of one or other. When the BCCI failed to meet the deadline, the SC fired BCCI president Anurag Thakur - a rich politician with hardly any cricket in him - and secretary Ajay Shirke. Exasperated, the SC on 30th January 2017 appointed a Committee of Administrators (CoA) to oversee implementation of Lodha Committee recommendations in BCCI. The members of the CoA were former CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) Vinod Rai, Vikram Limaye - the CEO and managing director of IDFC Ltd (holding company of IDFC Bank), Diana Edulji - former captain of Indian Women Cricket team and Ramchandra Guha - a sports historian.
Four months into working - Ramchandra Guha resigned from CoA on 28th May. In a letter to the chairman of CoA Vinod Rai Mr. Guha cited several 'conflict of interest' in BCCI which CoA ignored.
On June 3, Shekhar Gupta wrote for Weekend Business Standard pointing out 'conflict of interest' of CoA chairman himself. Gupta wrote, "Mr. Rai, who heads the central government's all-powerful Banks Board Bureau (BBB),reforming and restructuring public sector banks, is also the chairman of IDFC which promotes IDFC Bank, a private competitor of government banks. Then he chooses his own CEO Mr Limaye as a member of the CoA to assist him". Mr Gupta also writes about possible conflict of interest for Mr Limaye flagged by SEBI - the financial market regulator who refused to clear appointment of Mr Limaye as CEO of National Stock Exchange (NSE) unless he relinquishes the membership of CoA. As it happens, many IPL franchise has either been listed or are in the process of being listed for trading. So, can Limaye be both in BCCI and NSE?
At least two years before all these broke out, I had written how we swarm left-right-front and behind glorious people just to busk in reflected glory and why I do not like BCCI. As I am writing this piece, Pakistan dropped Virat Kohli in ICC World Cup match between India - Pakistan at the fag-end of indian batting. Kohli was short of his fifty and It was an easy catch. Soon he completed his fifty and was seen in an explosive display of sixes and fours. Immediately it came to my mind - was it fixed. With many details of BCCI affairs coming out in last few years - it has becomes difficult to enjoy the game unbiased. A lingering doubt remains after each game - was it staged like any other show? It seems we are now living in the shadow of glory.

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