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History honoured

Editorial |

The wicket will continue to remain sticky until the light is shed on several remaining grey areas in the generally welcome order of the apex court wielding the axe on several really absurd actions taken by the Lodha panel that tended to make light of cricketing history.

There was something so terribly officious to its one-state one-association recommendation that reeked of ignorance of the role played by Vadodara, Mumbai (or Baroda/Bombay), Saurashtra and Vidharba in promoting the game in its early years. Similarly, the exclusion of the Services, Railways and the Universities denied their role, and made light of the likes of HT Dani, Hemu Adhikari, Nari Contractor and BB Nimbalkar… and the Rohinton Baria competition. If ever there was a case of judicial activism running amuck it was provided by the authoritarian postures of Lodha and Mudgal. Full marks to CJI Dipal Misra, Justices AM Khandwilkar and DY Chandrachud for restoring the necessary balance.

It is to be hoped that there will be no delay in clarifying matters, completing technical/legal formalities, and restoring the management of the game to its rightful owners ~ not those imposed by judicial diktat. Sadly, the Committee of Administrators followed the Lodha panel into assuming infallibility ~ only the quality of the present generation of players averted disaster.

Not for a moment do those observations suggest that the BCCI and its affiliated units functioned in pristine, exemplary, manner and many of the court-directed reforms are welcome. Particularly the reforms which avert a monopoly situation persisting, in which money-power and other brands of muscle keep the same people in one office or another for years. Power does indeed corrupt.

The now-modified cooling off period is welcome, as are the prospects of changes in the office-bearers. Yet restoration of the management to elected representatives is the best way out. Sure there will be the odd black sheep, they will have to be ejected “from within”. To borrow the political line, “good governance is no substitute for self-governance.” And it would be fair to reflect on the quality of governance in the “bad old days”: did a Virat Kohli emerge only when the COA wielded authority? Was the BCCI bankrupt before a reputed auditor took the helm? Cricket has, for at least three decades, been the best-run sport in the country.

That, along with the finances generated, gave the BCCI a high degree of independence ~ something not palatable to those accustomed to calling the shots. That explains why a probe into alleged match-fixing was expanded into reforming the management. Also, why no other federation was thus targeted. What is imperative is that professional managers are inducted into the BCCI and affiliated units, and allowed to look after the day-to-day affairs. True that some unsavoury blokes have held top positions in the BCCI: is that not true of many other organisations ~ the government, Parliament and the judiciary too?