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BCCI commentators might soon have to give up writing sponsored columns

The likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Sanjay Manjrekar and Harsha Bhogle are expected to be affected by the new proposals.

News 13 Nov 2017, 16:21 IST

Harsha Bhogle is known to write columns for newspapers
Harsha Bhogle is known to write columns for newspapers

What’s the story?

Commentators contracted to the BCCI may soon have to forego writing sponsored columns and participate in sponsored award ceremonies, if the new conflict of interest issues, recommended by Lodha, are adopted by the cricket board.

According to details of the recent meeting "the contracts between the BCCI and its commentators should be examined to see if they permitted BCCI commentators to #1 write sponsored columns for newspapers, and or #2 participate in sponsored awards/rating programmes."

In case you didn’t know…

Sunil Gavaskar was recently asked to put the brakes on his player management agency, Professional Management Group, after a conflict of interest issue clashed the venture with his commentary commitments. The group was looking after player such as Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Sarfaraz Khan and Prithvi Shaw, but had to be shut down in September this year.

The heart of the matter

Former players such as Sanjay Manjrekar and Murali Karthik, as well as the likes of Harsha Bhogle, write sponsored columns for newspapers. The new Lodha guidelines state that ‘those employed with the BCCI can’t have another source of income’.

However, the rule won’t apply to Hindi commentators, as they don’t fall under the gamut of the BCCI, and our individually contracted with Star Sports. Hence, the likes of VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag can breathe easy. 

What’s next?

The board had previously sent the conflict of interest guidelines to its commentators, just before the India-Australia Test series earlier this year. However, they did not take into account the new guidelines. A fresh set of disclosure forms would be sent to staff and national selectors.

Author’s take

Ever since the Lodha recommendations have been put in place, the term ‘conflict of interest’, whose very definition is vague in terms of its usage in sport, has been of prime importance, the intention behind it being to maintain the integrity of the game and those associated with it. 

By voicing their opinions on other platforms as cricketing experts, former cricketers can potentially speak out on topics of selection which could question the workings of the BCCI’s selection committee itself, something which the cricket board would not ideally want from its own employees.

It remains to be seen as to what extent are the recommendations actually implemented.

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