BCCI – curing the disease or taking fans for granted?

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), released a 12 point plan last week for cleaning up the game of cricket on the back of huge pressure from all quarters. The intention was to correct an image tarnished due to the spot fixing scandal during the sixth season of the IPL which concluded late last month. We saw three players (S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan) and several others arrested, conflict of interest situations for a father-in-law and son-in-law (N Srinivasan and Gurunath Meiyappan) and a co-owner of a franchise banned (Raj Kundra of the Rajasthan Royals). On a purview of the 12 point plan, it appears the BCCI is trying to cure the symptoms rather than the disease. Also, there is no indication of the administrators walking the talk as I had wished for in my previous post.

While some of the points in the plan are welcome, such as a strict code of conduct for players, support staff and franchise owners, some of the other items in the plan border on sheer insanity such as banning cheerleaders. It is also curious to note that the BCCI administrators have been cleverly left out from the list of stakeholders who need to be compliant. The fact that there is no commission or group which has been set up to ensure compliance raises questions about the credibility of these plans announced by Jagmohan Dalmiya, the interim BCCI President.

Banning cheerleaders is aimed at eliminating sleaze, says Dalmiya. I fail to understand the logic behind this decision. One does not ban cheerleaders for eliminating sleaze; one restricts access to them for the players, match officials, support staff, franchise owners and more importantly, the BCCI administrators (who are likely to be the sleaziest of the lot)! Banning cheerleaders does not prevent the players and others concerned from having access to women; there are umpteen other sources. I’m not going into too much detail on this.

On the code of conduct, a few key stakeholders have been left out on reading the verbiage in the plan – selectors and other BCCI officials as well as the match officials. The code of conduct apparently applies only to players, support staff and franchise owners. This is a glaring loophole and I really hope this is fixed. Not doing so will lead to a plethora of problems for the embattled body running the game in India. I do not think these key personnel were left out inadvertently since there is another point in the plan which says no national selector will be involved with any franchise in any capacity (so, can a state selector be involved?). Therefore, I’m inclined to believe that the clause deliberately omitted selectors and other officials of the BCCI as well as the match officials from following the code of conduct. This diffidence in attitude is a total shame!

The plan as a whole is beset with loopholes of such nature. If the BCCI was serious in its demeanor to curb corruption and clean the game, they would certainly have come up with a much more infallible plan. Such half-cooked plans will only serve to increase the confusion and will not in any way instill the confidence in the average cricket fan to turn up and watch a game – whether on TV or at the grounds.

Jagmohan Dalmiya’s appointment as the interim BCCI president is equally disappointing. Everybody knows what kind of a moral standpoint this man has when it comes to cricket administration. Often dubbed as the Machiavelli of Indian cricket, he is no stranger to controversies. Remember the Mike Denness affair or his expulsion from the BCCI for alleged misappropriation of funds? The name is devoid of any ethics and does not send out the message that the BCCI is honest.

We will have to really wait and watch how the 12 point plan is administered in detail. But fans should beware that some sections of the plan are totally inadequate and needs a lot of fine-tuning to become clear and unambiguous. Honestly, Dalmiya is not the right man for the job (a crook of the first water, to quote a friend of mine) and we can only hope that the game is cleaned up to the hilt and fans enjoy watching the game again, not feeling that they have been taken for a ride!