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BCCI-CSA stand-off: For the greater good of cricket?


Haroon Lorgat has, so far, been brave enough to stir the hornet's nest

Haroon Lorgat has, so far, been brave enough to stir the hornet’s nest

So the BCCI is at it again, doing what it does best – bullying another cricket board just because they appointed a man, who has come into conflict with them over various issues, to head their operations.

Haroon Lorgat, the former ICC CEO, was appointed as the CEO of Cricket South Africa (CSA), and he has butted heads with the richest cricket board over contentious issues such as the Decision Review System (DRS), independent corporate governance review as per the Woolf report, and a host of other things.

In response, the BCCI announced that it would be hosting the West Indies for a series in November, effectively stating that India’s planned tour to South Africa is in jeopardy. Furthermore, they had also objected to the fact that the CSA had announced the itinerary for the African safari in July without consulting them first – the Lorgat saga might just be the last straw for them.

Let me handle the Woolf report first. Corporate governance is not a management term that is thrown around in the world of business.  It is about making sure that certain professional and industry-level practices are followed by large corporations in order to ensure transparency in all professional dealings.

In essence, the Woolf report seeks to bring in that transparency by re-structuring the ICC executive board, part of which stipulates that an ICC director must not hold a leadership or executive post in his own cricket board. N Srinivisan, the BCCI president-in-exile, violates that stipulation – similar to his dual role as the head honcho of the Chennai Super Kings in addition to being the boss of the main cricket body in India.

If, by bringing in independent directors as per the best corporate governance practices, the functioning of cricket’s governing body becomes smoother and much more streamlined, what’s wrong with implementing it? Worldwide popularity is determined on the field, not in boardrooms – so why make the game suffer by treating the ICC as an old boys’ club?

Restricting the powers of associates does not give full member nations the right to do whatever they please – all in the name of developing cricket in the affiliate countries. The phrase ‘for the greater good’ is happily tossed around by these heavyweights.

Yet, when it comes to holding tours for associate nations, they don’t even give it a second thought. A sure-shot case of double standards.

Returning to the issue at hand, the BCCI now wants a curtailed tour of South Africa just to spite CSA’s decision to pick Lorgat as their head. On top of that, they are also mulling ending the African establishment’s stake in the Champions League T20 tournament.

The tour, which was initially supposed to consist of three Tests, seven ODIs and two T20 internationals would, if the Indian board has its way, be pared down to the bare minimum requirements as stipulated in the ICC’s guidelines.

Given the fact that CSA earned nearly INR 400 crore during the 2011-12 tour by the 50-over world champions, they stand to lose a lot of money if the number of matches is reduced. To make matters worse, a two-day sponsors’ forum begins in Cape Town today and Lorgat is expected to face a lot of tough questions over the BCCI’s ‘aggressive’ stand.

Has the Indian cricket board conveniently forgotten how the South Africans had stepped in to save the second IPL season after the Government of India refused to provide security owing to the general elections in 2009? Sure, the move was engineered by former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi, but what if the request had been refused? Would the BCCI have consented to suffer a significant monetary loss on moral grounds?

The answer is an emphatic ‘No’. They would not have sacrificed revenues for anything. Now that they have a chance to return the favour (if they haven’t done so already), they’re sulking just because the man-in-charge had dared to suggest reforms in the game’s governing establishment.

Ironically, when the fixtures of the CLT20 2013 were announced, CSA were also apparently not consulted, and so the South African administrators due to attend the event also chose to stay away.

Lorgat has already stated that he wishes to repair the once-cordial relationship both boards enjoyed when Gerald Majola was CEO. Srinivasan, on the other hand, remains tight-lipped about the fiasco that this saga is quickly turning out to be. Acting president Jagmohan Dalmiya is non-committal.

While the impasse still continues, it will take Herculean efforts from both sides to come to a mutual agreement on the tour as well as a host of other simmering issues. It remains to be seen as to which side will blink first.

Wait-and-watch, that’s the policy to be adopted for now.

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