It’s been over a month since there were clear signs that India’s tour of South Africa was either going to be cut short or completely called off, and still the future of the tour is unclear. Even the Supreme Court has expressed concern over the state of the BCCI. The ICC remains mum while CSA has put on its best pauper face, begging for scraps – and let’s not even mention the fans. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.
Question: how difficult can it be to organise a cricket tour? Answer: very hard, if your first priority is power play.
It has now been over a month since the Board of Control for Cricket in India announced an additional tour prior to what would have been their visit to South Africa. It’s also almost a month since they announced that their tour of New Zealand would be brought forward. It’s been a couple of weeks since Haroon Lorgat met with the BCCI on the sidelines, and it’s been four days since the BCCI’s AGM, where one of the men at the centre of the storm, Narayanaswami Srinivasan, was re-elected as BCCI president.
High-profile meetings usually yield results or some sort of clarity. Yet nothing has changed. The only thing that has become even clearer is that the BCCI have got nothing but their own interest at heart. They care not for the well-being of the game, they care not for relations with other teams and they certainly do not care for the fans.
Something is rotten in state of cricket and even the Supreme Court in India thinks so. Srinivasan is currently in court, where it is being decided whether he can indeed continue his duties with the BCCI. The matter was deferred to 7 October 2013.
Following a massive fixing scandal relating to the IPL, the Bombay High Court 30 termed the probe panel set up by the Indian cricket board to investigate the role of IPL team owners and management in the spot-fixing and betting scandal as “illegal and unconstitutional”.
The panel, set up by the BCCI, found Gurunath Meiyappan and Rajasthan Royals co-promoter Raj Kundra in the scandal to be in the clear. Kundra was not named when the charge sheet was released, but Meiyappan was.
The scandal, of course, indirectly involves the big fish himself, through his son-in-law, Meiyappan. Srinivasan owns India Cements, which owns the IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, which was run by Meiyappan.
It’s all a very tangled web, and the Supreme Court said, during the hearing on Monday: “The fact that so many things are coming out of the IPL and BCCI, [means] something is seriously wrong with the apex body controlling cricket.”
And through all of this, the custodians of the game, the International Cricket Council, have remained mum. But the BCCI continue to speak out and their latest stance is that it’s all CSA’s fault that the tour is now at risk of either being completely cancelled or cut short.
BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said on Thursday that the BCCI were “waiting”. What exactly they are waiting for, nobody knows. Patel waxed lyrical about how, under normal circumstances, the BCCI would have done anything to get the tour on track.
“Things are going [on] since long. Certain things have to be put in right perspective. Let me inform you that the BCCI in normal circumstances would have done anything [for the tour to proceed]. But the protocol of finalising any series is joint declaration. But that declaration was originally done without the BCCI’s approval. So we are waiting,” Patel said.
Only CSA have repeatedly said that they have followed protocol. The only protocol that seemingly has not been followed is the appointment of Haroon Lorgat, with whom the BCCI do not see eye to eye.
The BCCI continued to say that if the tour doesn’t go ahead, there are alternatives in place.
“A number of countries are ready to play with India. There is no problem at all,” Patel said.
It’s been speculated that Pakistan and Sri Lanka are on standby for a tri-series should the SA tour fall through, but Patel said there was no such plan in place “at the moment”. Pakistan are due to play Sri Lanka in the UAE for three Tests, five ODIs and two T20s, but a tri-series with the financial powerhouse that is India would be far more lucrative and both countries would be foolish to deny the opportunity.
Patel did mention the impromptu organising of the additional West Indies tour, citing that it’s simply because India haven’t played enough cricket at home and they wanted to make sure the home fans are happy.
Cricket South Africa have remained relatively silent on the issue, lest they rock the boat even further, perhaps. But one person has spoken out on the matter.
Former BCCI president Shashank Manohar has said that Srinivasan has no right to continue as BCCI head.
“Srinivasan has no right to continue as president,” said Manohar. “If you had the slightest of conscience, self-esteem and care for the board, you ought to have put in your papers the moment your son-in-law was arrested. You did nothing and as a result the board’s reputation has taken a hit to the extent that the people have lost faith in this board.”
He also said that the reputation of the BCCI has been ruined by Srinivasan in just four months.
“He does not want to clean this mess. If my son was in Srinivasan’s position, I would have asked him to resign. Srinivasan is an autocrat and wants all the power for himself,” Manohar said.
But that power might not exist much longer. The BCCI have awarded their title sponsorship for international and domestic series for 2013-14 to Star Private and ESPN Software at a base price of Rs 2 crore per fixture (est $322,000), almost $241,000 less than their previous agreement with Airtel. The BCCI put it down to the current economic climate, but with the the current distrust surrounding the BCCI, it’s not inconceivable that their value is starting to drop. Still, the board will earn around $4.2 million from the upcoming Australian and West Indies series.
There is a lot that is known about the state of the BCCI, but the future of the South African summer remains up in the air. Anyone who has been hoping to travel to the country for a bumper summer has probably given up by now and opted to go for The Ashes in Australia instead. Who can blame them? Such sheer disregard to those who live and breathe the game is nothing short of a disgrace. DM
Photo: Indian cricket board (BCCI) President N. Srinivasan speaks to the media during a news conference in Kolkata May 26, 2013. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri