The reforms are gone now and the resistance worked.
It is ironic when we see things in isolation and try to gain a perspective. When the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee set the reforms in motion, it met a group of individuals who dared to resist the decision of the highest institution of the land and stood its ground to make a complete mockery of the system. Even their argument that the Lodha recommendations had its own demerits and needed a revision from a very practical standpoint, but by quashing and delaying, they were unbecoming of the cricket body they claim to be.
Lest we forget, in October 2019, when Sourav Ganguly and Jay Shah found collective support from two completely different factions in the BCCI politics, the entire thing was nullified to be a version of its own taciturn. Three years later, as the two-judge bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli passed orders to go back on its own judgment, we are all now back to square one.
"Existing position is by using the word combination, even if you have done one term in state and one term in BCCI then you are out," Justice Chandrachud said in the hearing on Wednesday. "But what we are proposing is that if you have done six years at the state level then you are subject to a three-year cooling-off period (at state). If you have not done six years at the same level then you are not subject to a cooling-off period."
"Second, we are giving a more liberal thing: you can do six in the state, you can then immediately do six in the BCCI because they are two different levels. But after completing two consecutive terms at two different levels then take a break of three years."
For what it was worth, now, we are going to see the duo of Ganguly and Shah seeking re-election or finding different ways to be elected to the cricket echelons. If reports on NDTV are to be believed, Ganguly may contest for the ICC role while Shah would be elevating himself to the role of BCCI President, with unmatched power in armoury. That itself has corroborated the threats envisioned by the critics while planting new seeds of doubt that if the BCCI is allowed to make amends to the constitution regarding the cooling-off period and age-cap barrier without the permission of the Apex Court, things can take a different turn. Who knows what we have in store?
One can argue that the BCCI have continued to be the best-run sporting body in the country and they’ve maintained a sense of credibility as far as promoting the sports for all is concerned. They host over 2000 domestic matches in a year, already the owner of the biggest cricketing property of all-time and a team that could rival any team, any day, anywhere in the world. That was the kind of commitment required to run a sporting body and if not for the disparaging activities in the other sphere, no one would have even thought of a radical administrative reform plan.
The last three years have been contentious from all angles possible. In the world of social media, everything is judged as simplistic binary but any regime is complex at the base level. While there are a lot of evidence to suggest that Shah and Ganguly’s combination aren’t fully successful, it is worth noting that from changing the compensation structure of the domestic players to helming the rights sell for the Indian Premier League and chalking the roadmap for the Women’s IPL from 2023, they had their share of success stories to boost.
The bigger problem, however, is the affiliation to anarchy and resisting the idea of professionalism. When Rahul Johri resigned from BCCI prematurely, a year before his five-year contract was scheduled to run out, instead of appointing a fresh CEO, they decided to hand interim duties to Hemang Amin, the IPL Chief Operating Officer. No dedicated CEO meant the major recommendation of the Lodha Committee is a laughing stock now.
The selection matters have become more and more complicated in the current BCCI regime. Even for a tournament as big as the ICC T20 World Cup, no press conference was given by the BCCI Chairman of Selectors. A discrete underwriting announcement was all that Rohit Sharma got when he was appointed the captain for the limited-overs side. If the board couldn’t come clean on such things, there is no reason to doubt that it smells of hubris and lacks the fundamental accountability value they promised in the first place.
Would the BCCI really value that first? Well, your guess is as good as mine.