VVS Laxman in conflict of interest row while selecting Anil Kumble for head coach post
The head coach of the Indian cricket team is one of the most sought after jobs in the county, and it is no wonder that there has been plenty of controversy surrounding the appointment of Anil Kumble. The latest in this affair is that it has emerged that VVS Laxman, one of the three members of the Cricket Advisory Committee tasked with selecting the coach for the team, might be involved in a conflict of interest row. The former Indian batsmen, as revealed by DNA, is a shareholder in Anil Kumble’s company, Tenvic Sports Education Private Limited. If proven true, it would seriously undermine the decision taken by Laxman, irrespective of whether he acted rationally.
There has been plenty of clamour surrounding the interviews taken to select the coach with Ravi Shastri earlier alleging that Sourav Ganguly wasn’t part of the interview process for him. Now, with VVS Laxman’s credibility in question, it would cause an unnecessary cloud of doubt over whether Anil Kumble was the fair choice for the post. According to DNA, documents show that Laxman is the second largest shareholder in Kumble’s company, Tenvic Sports. On the date when VVS Laxman sat down to interview coaches, he continued to hold 33,332 shares in Tenvic Sports. As a shareholder, Laxman was also entitled to incentives, bonus and other benefits from Kumble’s firm.
The Bengaluru-based Tenvic Sports started operations in 2011 and are involved in coaching at the grassroot level, training and mentoring for businesses and sportspeople and providing insights and ideas to help brands better leverage sport in their marketing. Documents reveal that Laxman held 16,666 equity shares in Kumble’s firm in 2012. Further, in the very next year, Laxman’s shareholding in the company doubled to 33,332 shares. Along with Laxman, former badminton player Prakash Padukone and Sharath Kamal are also shareholders in the company.
In a 3 year period from 2012 – 2014, the financial statements of Tenvic reveal a sum to the tune of almost Rs 7 crore was paid to Laxman under various expense heads. Further, Rs 3 crore was paid during this period as bonus and incentives while employee benefits of Rs 3.2 crore were also given during this period.
Questions of conflict of interest have plagued the BCCI over the last couple of years, with this incident being the latest in a series of issues faced by the board. Sourav Ganguly, another member of the CAC was also involved in a conlict of interest row recently with his role in the IPL governing council as well as holding a 5 percent stake in the company that represents the Rising Pune Supergiants. Such claims were soundly rebutted by Ganguly, saying he has no interest or connection with New Rising Promoters Pvt. Ltd. that owns Rising Pune Supergiants, nor is he aware of their share-holding patterns.
Justice AP Shah, the BCCI appointed ombudsman, has taken a proactive stand in dealing with conflict of interest as he looks to mitigate all these issues soon. The Supreme Court (SC) had also ruled that the conflict of interest situation in Indian cricket was a complete “anti-thesis to the fundamental imperatives of the game” and impermissible under law.
On the appointment of Anil Kumble as coach, plenty of questions arose as to whether there would be any conflict of interest as he assumes the roles of cricket team coach, owner of Tenvic Spors as well as heading the ICC Cricket Committee. At that time, Kumble had said, “There is absolutely no conflict of interest. All things have been addressed.”
There is sure to be a fallout from this latest revelation, as neither VVS Laxman or Anil Kumble or the BCCI have responded to the claims. It will be of their utmost interest to address this issue before it spills over into something bigger. Until then, Anil Kumble has to try to maintain his focus at the conditioning camp underway at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium for the upcoming tour of West Indies.