BCCI President Narayanaswami Srinivasan (file photo)
Narayanaswami Srinivasan may have got a clean chit from the Supreme Court on Monday on the question of match-fixing, but he is hardly smelling of roses, since the Supreme Court pointed out that the BCCI president-in-exile (what else do you call a president who has been banned by the court from carrying out his duties) did not take action against a player who had violated the code of conduct.
With Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan indicted by the court for allegedly betting, where does that leave poor Srinivasan? Still clamouring that he is innocent, no less, and that all is well in Indian cricket. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is run by a group of people who control the richest cricket revenues in the world and yet claim that the organization is not answerable to anyone. Regional strongmen have always held sway over the board, bludgeoning any dissent – Srinivasan is just the latest in a long list of all-powerful BCCI presidents, including Jagmohan Dalmiya and Sharad Pawar.
But what makes Srinivasan so special is his blatant conflict of interest: as owner of Chennai Super Kings, Srinivasan is an Indian Premier League (IPL) team owner, but as BCCI president he decides policies that impacts all teams, including his own.
This laughable situation has been overlooked since the IPL began because the league had opened the floodgates of revenues. But with the Supreme Court-appointed Justice Mudgal committee indicting Meiyappan, IPL COO Sundar Raman and Raj Kundra (co-owner of Rajasthan Royals) for allegedly cronying up to punters, action needs to be taken against their teams (Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings) as per the IPL rules for bringing cricket into disrepute. But is anyone seriously expecting the BCCI president (Srinivasan) to take action against the Chennai Super Kings (owned by Srinivasan)?
The extent of Srinivasan’s own attempts to obfuscate have been on display with his specious claim that Meiyappan was just a simple cricketing “enthusiast”, not an official of Chennai Super Kings. The Mudgal committee report has now rubbished that claim, pointing out that Srinivasan’s son-in-lw was in fact a team official.
The problem is that the corruption that has corroded the BCCI is also infecting players. At least three players are on the list of names that the Mudgal committee believes have indulged in 'misdemeanours', but the Supreme Court has not released their names for now as it could affect the sport.
But no one should look surprised. The trend was already clear with the captain of the India team, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, also being the captain of the Chennai Super Kings (owner: Srinivasan), as well as Vice-President of India Cements (Srinivasan is the Vice-Chairman and MD). Everyone in Indian cricket, it seems, has realised that it pays to join the gravy train.
The Supreme Court needs to restore the public’s faith in cricket by cleaning the Augean stables that is the BCCI. It needs to force Srinivasan and his coterie out, force fresh elections for the board, and take action against Kundra and Meiyappan (and their teams) and against Srinivasan himself for failing to act against a player. Also to ensure that there is no longer any conflict of interest, the BCCI rules need to be amended to stop any IPL team owner from becoming a BCCI board member.
Only then can India really get the respect of the rest of the cricketing world. Right now there is a stink coming from Indian cricket and from the arrogant clique running the BCCI – they are presiding over a rotten structure that needs only one push to come crashing down.