Anurag Thakur could have been the man to turn the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) around. But he lost one of the biggest opportunities of his life because he did not have the courage to do the right thing. He lost power and now faces contempt and perjury proceedings in the Supreme Court. What an end to an administrator who had it all and lost it on a whim.
In July when the SC accepted the recommendations of the Lodha panel, the writing was on the wall for the BCCI and all affiliated state associations. Of the many recommendations the main four were – remove conflict of interest, give players associations a place on the board, an age cap on administrators and one state, one vote. These weren’t difficult to implement, but vested interests in the BCCI and the state associations connived to challenge the SC and Thakur became a willing pawn in their hands. Rumour has it that he tried to get the ICC to label the court intervention as government interference and the SC did not take it lightly.
The court’s decision to sack BCCI president Thakur and Ajay Shirke, secretary came after much delay. It should have come earlier, but the delay proves that BCCI was given enough time and width to adopt the changes. Even Sharad Pawar, who has crossed the age limit of 70 set by the court saw it coming and opted to quit as Mumbai Cricket Association president, but others remained defiant. Monday’s order has put fear in the hearts of all associations who not only accepted the verdict, but also agreed to implement the Lodha recommendations.
The Supreme Court’s intervention came in the aftermath of the 2013 ISL betting scandal when it stated that even though the BCCI did not receive grants from the government, it was accountable to the public and the country’s laws. The removal of N Srinivasan was the first step towards reforming the BCCI. Despite these rumblings the BCCI, to quote Bob Dylan, failed to see the hard rain that was going to fall. It mistook it for a light drizzle.
More than the BCCI, the Lodha panel report and the manner in which the SC went about demolishing the infrastructure of corruption in the BCCI should become the template for overhauling all sport associations in the country. The Union Sports Ministry decided to constitute a committee headed by sports secretary Injeti Srinivas to suggest improvements in the Sports Development Code. The panel has been asked to submit its report in a month. There is a flicker of hope, but bureaucrats and politicians can hardly be trusted to do a thorough job. Instead of a bureaucrat, the ministry should have employed the services of Justice Lodha. That would have sent a clear message to the nation that the government was serious and a shiver down the spines of incompetent and corrupt sports administrators.