Madhavrao Scindia

Indian Cricket needs politicians and here’s why!

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Some solutions are worse than problems.

A thief with a criminal backlog was sentenced to seven years in prison for a $3.99 bag in California and it cost the taxpayers upwards of $50,000 to keep him there.

In Vietnam, the French colonial rulers decided cash rewards in exchange for rat tails. Only, the rat population multiplied as rat-catchers took the tails but freed the rats to procreate and produce more off-springs, and thus more tails.

Once during the British Raj, so big was the number of cobras in the Capital Delhi that a reward was offered for every one dead cobra. All it did was that people began breeding cobras in bigger numbers for bigger rewards. When a wiser British government woke up to the situation and scrapped the rewards, the cobra-owners released the venomous creatures and the Capital had double of its numbers.

The Odd-Even scheme to reduce air pollution is similarly unlikely to work for people in cities won’t bat an eyelid in buying another car and you would have more four-wheelers on the streets and thus more poison in the air than before.

Quick fixes don’t work and can go horribly wrong. One such mess has been created by Supreme Court through its appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) to govern cricket in India.

We have a situation where those entrusted with administering the game have no experience of it and who, in turn, are reliant on those who can administer but are better served by a delayed solution.

We thus have game’s ownership without answerability in the hands of a few—the very crisis of transparency and accountability, checks and balances which Supreme Court sought to address in its landmark judgment last year.

In these columns, you have read enough about the blunders and double standards of CoA but do dread the hyenas who are moving in now that the lion has a mouth-clap and his claws are in wraps.

You have the instance of International Cricket Council (ICC), not long ago a stooge of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), vowing to take away the 2021 Champions’ Trophy from India, and possibly 2023 World Cup, if it can’t secure tax-free events from the Indian government. No less, it also wants the deducted tax of 2016 World Cup restored in its coffers!!!

Supreme Court has opened the sluice gates for official break-up of the game in this country. The Law Commission has moved in with its recommendations that BCCI be made a “public body”, open to questions from the public under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

Bravo! So you could thus soon question why Virat Kohli  chose to bat first in the recent Wanderers’ Test. Or why the combine of Ganguly-Tendulkar-Laxman chose Kumble over Shastri when the latter was delivering gold by tons as India coach.

Once the BCCI’s status as private entity—under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act—goes, BCCI would be subject to harassment and blackmail from all quarters.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed a penalty of Rs 52.25 crores on BCCI for its anti-competitive conduct of denying access to the market for organization of professional domestic cricket leagues. The standard contract with any broadcaster, to protect its investment, has turned into a penalty for the BCCI.

Supreme Court had intervened after match-fixing scandal hit the IPL fields three seasons ago. The new administrators seem singularly ill-equipped to prevent a repeat—its’ anti-corruption unit chief Neeraj Kumar, former Delhi Police commissioner, doubts his bosses’ resolve to root out corruption. Neeraj Kumar is now set to retire on March 31, 2018 just a week before IPL gets going. All it seems is an invitation to scandals.

Cricket in India could only be run with a powerful figure as its head. Or the horses would bolt. You need close to 50 permissions to host a public event. You have situations where linesmen could hold up a day-night game with power cuts if extorted free passes don’t reach them.

We have our noses screwed on politicians in the game. But they have been great helmsmen in steering the ship at various dangerous bends in the river.  In 2011 World Cup, Sharad Pawar could clear the decks for the Wankhede Stadium when it was battling against a PIL and many such impediments.

Ditto his intervention in tax-cuts for the same event. Under him, BCCI once contributed Rs 50 crores to the Olympic fund. And Rs 12.5 crores to the football federation.

But for NKP Salve, the 1987 World Cup would’ve been a non-starter. Jagmohan Dalmiya and Inderjit Singh Bindra are credited with commercializing cricket in India but the real driving force was Madhavrao Scindia.

Dharmashala today is known more for its cricket stadium than for Dalai Lama. Private airlines (Spice Jet) have more daily flights than Air India for the destination. It’s firmly now on tourism’s map. In 2000, when Anurag Thakur took control of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) all it had was a room, a table and a steel almirah. In a dozen and half years, the state now has four state-of-the-art cricket stadiums. The beauty of stadium in Bilaspur, running alongside a lake, would take your breath away. It’s the only association which has a five-star hotel (“The Pavillion”) of its own.

Another BJP MP Gokaraju Ganga Raju, and his services to Andhra cricket, could run into pages. In order to ensure that girls are encouraged to take up the game by their parents, hostels and scholarships are provided to them.  In every district of the state!

It’s all very well to suggest that the game must be run as a corporate, professional entity but it’s not produced by a mere wave of hands. Whereas a professional would retire for the day at 5 p.m, countless those—like one Bhatia in Nadaun Stadium, Hamirpur—work round the clock out of loyalty to their politician-lords.

Mere rubbishing the politicians is to deny them their dues. The fanciful corporate structure of an England or Australia is immeasurably more difficult in a bigger and more complex India.

As said, some solutions are worse than problems. Indian cricket, presently on auto mode, is hanging by the edge of a cliff. Everybody seems to have a say, nobody appears in control. Supreme Court would do well to reinstate those men behind the steering wheels who could reverse the mistake and drive Indian cricket to safety.