Whether its N Srinivasan (left) now or Lalit Modi (left) then, transparency has never been BCCI's motto © Getty Images
Whether its N Srinivasan (left) now or Lalit Modi (left) then, transparency has never been BCCI’s motto © Getty Images

 

By Madan Mohan

 

Remember a time when a certain Lalit Modi ruled all things in the Indian Premier League (IPL)? It’s not even so long ago. Just last year he was still ‘The Man’, hailed even as a genius in some quarters! But out-of-sight-out-of-mind takes on extreme dimensions these days, and if he stopped tweeting (or the media stopped reporting his tweets), he would be well and truly forgotten.

 

The reaction to Lalit Modi’s unsavoury ouster from IPL was two fold. People readily admired his organization and marketing acumen and wondered how the IPL would cope with his absence at the helm. It must be said that IPL 4 has not fared as badly as initial spook stories emerging in the wake of Modi’s ouster suggested, and that’s in spite of the hangover of a successful World Cup campaign by India.

 

On the other hand, they hoped there would now be a clean up and IPL would now become a more transparent in its functioning. I guess we forgot that IPL is basically the golden goose of the BCCI!

 

Transparency has hardly been BCCI’s motto. Recall that in 2008 it staunchly backed erstwhile ICC president Ray Mali on the issue of irregularities reported in the financial statements of the Zimbabwe Cricket Board. In the messy showdown that ensued, Malcolm Speed was ousted from his post of chief executive of the ICC. There are other sordid stories from BCCI’s ‘illustrious’ past in administering the game in India, but we shall now turn to the IPL – for that is the flavour of the season.

 

A thorny issue that has been conveniently and consistently swept under the carpet right from the early days of IPL is the fact that BCCI secretary N Srinivasan is also the owner of Chennai Super Kings in his capacity as the Managing Director of India Cements. For the record, the Supreme Court has referred a PIL filed against the resulting conflict of interest to a larger bench.

 

But why was a PIL even necessary?! Is the BCCI not obligated to govern its affairs transparently and ‘voluntarily’ nip these issues in the bud? Perhaps, they have a suitable justification for this, but one wonders if the PIL would not have then been rejected by both SC judges who heard the matter. It is also pretty fishy that the other owners have never raised particularly vociferous objections against this. Long story short, IPL is as messy and murky as it used to be in the Modi days.

 

In fact, what has changed since Modi’s exit is that BCCI seems to control the IPL even more tightly now and voices of dissent have become even more feeble. Modi was a figurehead and hence a convenient punching bag to be targeted by dissenters. Perhaps drawing inspiration from the writings of George Orwell, BCCI seems to have decided that the faceless corrupt entity is harder to assail than the corrupt but lone dictator.

 

And so it is that the BCCI stops Indian cricketers from playing in the Australian Big Bash because it clashes with India’s domestic cricket season, but the contradictions involved in this position go unnoticed. And so it is that the BCCI rests senior Indian nationals for the upcoming ODI series in West Indies and few writers see fit to raise questions over it.

 

The World Cup tournament was concluded on April 2. India plays its first game in the West Indies on June 4. I believe two months is well earned rest for the cricketers and they ought to be playing in West Indies. Of course, they were all chilling out in the IPL, you see and fixtures against a Test nation are of scant importance to the BCCI.

 

I am not calling into question the players’ right to participate in the IPL. But they must also not be exempted participation from international fixtures for reason that they are coming off a hectic IPL edition. If their cricket calendar is crowded, it is so at their choice. I am afraid this move, like the one to bar Indian players from participation in Big Bash, smacks of a “might is right” attitude.

 

I am all for encouraging upcoming players and grooming them well in advance for the painful transition to come, particularly in Test matches. But a rest for players who played their last international match two months prior to the upcoming series sounds dubious.

 

If the above reads like an assortment of shady stories from the BCCI’s closet, it is because I have opened a Pandora’s Box. I shall instead cut to the chase and sign off by saying that we are pretty much back to normal service.  A blind eye is routinely turned to the BCCI’s activities and eloquent outrage will break out when things come out yet again in the open.

 

They will, rest assured, not because of a vigilant or activist public but because the easiest thing to do for politicians and others in positions of power and influence seeking to settle scores is to wash dirty linen in public and bring the house of cards tumbling down. Lalit Modi may be ‘dead’ as far as Indian cricket is concerned, but the IPL/BCCI is set to extend its long reign of corruption and hypocrisy.

 

(Madan Mohan, a 25-year old CA from Mumbai, is passionate about writing, music and cricket. Writing on cricket is like the icing on the cake.)