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N Srinivasan expected to defy calls of stepping down despite protests

N Srinivasan is set to become the new ICC Chairman © PTI
N Srinivasan is set to become the new ICC Chairman © PTI

by Kuldip Lal

New Delhi: February 11, 2014

New world cricket boss N. Srinivasan was expected  to defy calls to step down as India cricket chief despite a damning court inquiry that implicated a relative in illegal betting.

After an extensive investigation, a Supreme Court panel said son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was guilty of illegal betting in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and allegations of match-fixing against him should be further probed.   The three-member panel’s findings released on Monday were a blow to Srinivasan coming just days after he was elected the first chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC), in a shakeup of the world body.

A.C. Muthiah, a former head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said Srinivasan’s role in the sport’s administration was untenable following the findings.   “It has definitely weakened Srinivasan’s position,” Muthiah told the Times of India on Tuesday. “He has to recuse himself according to corporate principles because it is a clear case of conflict of interest.”

“Corporate governance is a very important factor. You can’t have tainted people to run international cricket,” he said.

Expected to brush aside calls to quit but Srinivasan, who successfully weathered last year’s betting and fixing IPL scandals, was expected to brush aside the calls to quit the BCCI, with supporters saying he has not been accused of wrongdoing.

“I can’t see Srinivasan stepping down just because of the report since he himself has not been found guilty of anything,” a senior BCCI member said.   “Besides, he is in total control of the board. Who is going to go against him?” the member said on condition of anonymity.

Another official added: “This is just a report. Everyone needs to take a step back and wait till the Supreme Court rules on the matter.”   The Supreme Court appointed the panel on October 8 to investigate the scandal that last year rocked the popular Twenty20 tournament run by the BCCI.   The probe was separate from investigations by police, who have filed charges in court against Meiyappan, a string of officials, players and bookmakers for illegal betting during the tournament.

Meiyappan was the team principal of Chennai Super Kings, an IPL franchise owned by Srinivasan’s India Cements company and captained by national skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The panel, headed by retired judge Mukul Mudgal, suggested that Meiyappan may have passed on team information to outsiders for illegal betting, but did not specify what information or to whom.

The panel, which submitted its report to the Supreme Court, dismissed Srinivasan’s claim that Meiyappan was merely a cricket enthusiast, saying he was the face of the franchise.   It also said Srinivasan himself could be facing a conflict of interest by being the BCCI president and also the owner of the IPL franchise, “a serious issue” that needed to be considered by the court.

Srinivasan had stepped aside as BCCI president last June when Meiyappan was named in the scandal. He was reinstated by the Supreme Court in October after he was unanimously re-elected as BCCI head.   Srinivasan is due to take over as the ICC chairman in July as part of a controversial shake-up of the governance and structure of the body.

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