The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the richest cricket body in the world, has come under overhaul from the Supreme Court, which is investigating the cases related to allegations of spot-fixing and illegal betting.
These cases are being investigated by the Court and the final verdict is to come soon. The Court is hearing the Justice Mudgal Committee findings on corruption in the Indian Premier League, which is the biggest T20 competition in the world, with nearly all the big superstars of world cricket participating in the tournament.
While the Court had been asking BCCI chief N Srinivasan to step down – his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested in betting case in last year’s IPL – Srinivasan remained defiant. Meiyappan’s arrest came after three Rajasthan Royals players, including former Indian fast bowler S Sreesanth, were accused of spot-fixing.
The Court finally forced him to step down and appointed former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar as the temporary chief. The Court virtually split the BCCI – while Gavaskar will oversee the upcoming Season 7 of the IPL, BCCI Vice-President Shivlal Yadav would be in charge of the Board’s day-to-day administration.
The decision has been applauded from all corners, including former cricketers as well as cricket fans all over the world, concerned with corruption in the game and Srinivasan’s virtual hijack of the BCCI. Here is what the Indian and the international media had to say:
The Times of India lauded the Apex Court’s decision, terming Gavaskar as ‘man for change’. “In directing the appointment of Sunil Gavaskar as the interim working president of BCCI to replace N Srinivasan, the Supreme Court has highlighted the need for reforms in Indian cricket. As a former cricketer himself, Gavaskar is a good candidate to oversee the upcoming seventh edition of IPL and initiate a much-needed reform process. Only a thorough cleansing of BCCI’s administrative structures can rectify conflict of interest issues plaguing Indian cricket today.”
The Hindu, too, found the overhaul a chance to ‘cleanse the game’. “The people who should take the blame for the game reaching such a pass that the country’s highest court has had to intervene and make arrangements to run cricket without taint or suspicion, are without doubt Mr Srinivasan and his colleagues on the Board. The Board displayed laxity in implementing anti-corruption measures and responded to the crisis set off by revelations of spot-fixing with equivocation, obfuscation and intransigence...
“Hopefully, the tenure of Mr Yadav and Mr Gavaskar, however brief, will be an opportunity to clean up the BCCI’s affairs... To meet the challenges ahead, he needs to bring to his latest role the qualities he had displayed on the field — the discretion to evade a barrage of bouncers, the courage to carry on without the protection of a helmet and the instinct to know where his off-stump is,” The Hindu added.
The Indian Express said the BCCI should own up to its responsibilities and resolve its issues on its own. It called the Court’s decision unfortunate, saying it undermines the Court itself as well as Indian cricket. It asked: “But is deciding on corporate conflicts of interest and malpractice in any way a ground for a judicial takeover of the running of an autonomous organisation? What next? Will the Court set the terms for how teams are chosen? On the colour of their ODI uniforms? May we go to court when a fielding decision goes wrong? It certainly looks headed that way.” It added: “The BCCI needed a severe crisis to be jolted into rectifying its affairs. Such a crisis has been building up over the past year. If only the court would not waste it by overreaching.”
The Mint felt it is an opportunity for redemption for Srinivasan. “Indeed, while this may seem like an end game, to use another cliché, this is also a fine opportunity for Srinivasan to shrug off all the allegations hurled at him. A “fair inquiry” is something he has asked for all along. If his stepping down facilitates that, as the chief custodian of cricket in India, he should welcome it.”
The DNA wondered if it was time to scrap the IPL altogether. “The question is do we really need a league mired in corruption to satisfy our collective entertainment quotient in the peak of summer every year? From CSK to RR, from Sahara Pune Warriors to Kochi Tuskers Kerala (both scrapped), from fixing to betting, the IPL gives us reasons to doubt its credibility every season. It’s less about cricket and cricketers, and more about muck and money, much of it through illegal ways and means. Yes, it’s a money-spinner and a source of livelihood to hundreds playing in and thousands dependent on it, but lest we forget, filth and falsity is fundamental to the IPL. Wonder why they even have a ‘Fairplay Award’?
The Guardian raised an eyebrow at the decision, stating, “But for those already writing Srinivasan’s administrative obituary it is worth remembering that he survived the initial investigation into the Super Kings and specifically the allegations against his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan – admittedly a probe supervised by the BCCI rather than the supreme court.” UK’s The Daily Mail also said the court “fixed” Srinivasan in a “rare act”.
The Independent dissected the past controversies surrounding the IPL, stating it was never free of them. “...the competition has been repeatedly linked to allegations of corruption. Lalit Modi, the official involved in establishing the tournament was later convicted of misconduct and suffered a lifetime ban from the BCCI. A government minister, Shashi Tharoor, was forced to resign after he was accused of securing a special deal for a team owned by his then girlfriend. He denied the claim.”
Pakistan’s The Dawn said Gavaskar, “renowned for his stout defence on even the stickiest of wickets, will have to display the same qualities of defiance and immaculate foot-work as he steps to the crease for India's troubled cricket board”. But his silence caught the paper’s attention. “Gavaskar has often had to defend himself against accusations that as a commentator contracted to the BCCI, he has chosen to remain silent on some of the biggest controversies swirling around the board.”
What has attracted the world attention to the matter is the strong words used by the Supreme Court in asking Srinivasan to quit, including calling his stay “nauseating” and “filthy”. The BCCI and now the IPL have garnered much unwanted attention all over the world after the betting and corruption charges, which included three of regular players. By refusing to step aside for a fair probe, Srinivasan only made matters worse. The world is seeing Gavaskar as the man who has the task of cleaning up.