Monday, June 03, 2013

When India is a metaphor for BCCI

By John Cheeran

So who won? There may not be a definitive answer to that question but there is no doubt about who lost in the Chennai Test on Sunday –the Indian cricket fan. It was a victory for N Srinivasan and his brinkmanship, it was a victory for Arun Jaitley and his political nous, and it was a victory for Jagmohan Dalmiya and his sense of opportunism.

If you have been a cricket lover, you can henceforth love BCCI. What a beautiful four-letter word it is. You can use it now to let your steam out – ‘BCCI You.’ This is the only message coming from Chennai. Whatever the outraged public say, BCCI is a realm, where you are not given entry. You can buy a match ticket, enter M A Chidambaram Stadium, or M A Chinnaswamy Stadium or for that matter Eden Gardens. That’s it. (As much as you can cast your vote during elections but your tryst with democracy ends there.) You cannot walk into the portals of the BCCI. We will fix the game for you, that’s the message coming from Srinivasan, Jaitley and Dalmiya. We are in it together. We will run this as a private organization (which in any case, it is) and let no one come forward to clean-up our act, say the entrenched forces in Indian cricket.

And mind you, BCCI is the most professionally run sports organization in India. It only shows how poorly managed our other sports organizations are. You cannot criticize BCCI on certain counts. For example, former and current cricketers are taken care of financially by the board. There is no breakdown of administration. Indian board flexes its muscle and money at the International Cricket Council. It vetoes ICC proposals and takes on the perpetrators of imagined insults to the nation and its cricketers. BCCI may be a mafia, it is a mafia that gets things done. Like what? When Srinivasan was around, India regained the World Cup, in 2011, 28 years after its first title triumph. The board’s coffers are full. It religiously conducts all domestic tournaments, and on the face of it, there is a degree of process (however skewed it may be) involved in its decision making. To a large extent, this explains the silence of the satraps of the state associations in the working committee meeting in Chennai on Sunday.

But when it comes to big decisions, there is opacity, deceit, subterfuge, arm-twisting and mutual back-scratching. Very rarely we see the ‘back-stabbing’ attempted by the western lobby, led by one of the most ambitious politicians around in India now.

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