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BCCI fires off conflict of interest missive to members

When the BCCI stated that it would accept the Lodha Committee’s recommendations in toto, few believed it would make any substantial difference to its inner workings and the postponement of any decision about the suspended teams CSK and RR only fueled these suspicions.

The first inkling of sweeping changes in the offing occurred yesterday when the BCCI addressed the issue of conflict of interest in a letter to its members requested them to sign a declaration stating that they have no existing conflicts of interest in their capacities as officials with the BCCI or any state association.

The letter states:

“Conflict of interest is not about beliefs or biases. It is about a person’s roles and responsibilities, and the tendency or apprehension of bias that assumes to exist when duties, decisions or actions conflict. Deciding that someone has a conflict of interest is a description of a situation, not a judgement about the person or their actual beliefs.”

It also asks members to declare the absence of “any personal or family allegiance, bias, inclination, obligation or any interest of whatsoever nature, directly or indirectly which may in any way affect or provide any financial or any other benefit to me, my family or close relations or which may tend to interfere with or affect my objectivity, independence, impartiality and neutrality in any decision making process, acts and conduct relating to or arising out of discharge of my office of President/Hony. Secretary of …

It is a pity really that the antics of politicians and certain ‘luminaries’ within the BCCI and other national sports federations have tarred all who have been accused of conflicts of interest with the same brush.

The paucity of qualified people especially ex-sportspersons willing to be a part of sports administration is well known and there is always a possibility that there will be some entanglement of private and public roles and responsibilities.

That’s as it is. It should not be sufficient reason to jettison recent developments as non-viable or unworkable in an Indian context. This has been the bane of any attempt at reforms.

Let us revisit the definition of ‘conflict of interest‘ first.

Wikipedia states:

“A conflict of interest (COI) is a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple interests (financial, emotional, or otherwise), one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation of the individual or organization.

The presence of a conflict of interest is independent of the occurrence of impropriety. Therefore, a conflict of interest can be discovered and voluntarily defused before any corruption occurs. A widely used definition is: “A conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgement or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.” Primary interest refers to the principal goals of the profession or activity, such as the protection of clients, the health of patients, the integrity of research, and the duties of public office. Secondary interest includes not only financial gain but also such motives as the desire for professional advancement and the wish to do favours for family and friends, but conflict of interest rules usually focus on financial relationships because they are relatively more objective, fungible, and quantifiable. The secondary interests are not treated as wrong in themselves, but become objectionable when they are believed to have greater weight than the primary interests. The conflict in a conflict of interest exists whether or not a particular individual is actually influenced by the secondary interest. It exists if the circumstances are reasonably believed (on the basis of past experience and objective evidence) to create a risk that decisions may be unduly influenced by secondary interests.”

Conflict of interest is best understood in the judicial context. It’s probably no surprise that Shashank Manohar, a lawyer by profession, was and is one of former BCCI supremo N Srinivasan’s staunchest critics.

“Judicial disqualification, also referred to as recusal, refers to the act of abstaining from participation in an official action such as a court case/legal proceeding due to a conflict of interest of the presiding court official or administrative officer. Applicable statutes or canons of ethics may provide standards for recusal in a given proceeding or matter. Providing that the judge or presiding officer must be free from disabling conflicts of interest makes the fairness of the proceedings less likely to be questioned.

In the legal profession, the duty of loyalty owed to a client prohibits an attorney (or a law firm) from representing any other party with interests adverse to those of a current client. The few exceptions to this rule require informed written consent from all affected clients, i.e., an “ethical wall”. In some circumstances, a conflict of interest can never be waived by a client. In perhaps the most common example encountered by the general public, the same firm should not represent both parties in a divorce or child custody matter. Found conflict can lead to denial or disgorgement of legal fees, or in some cases (such as the failure to make mandatory disclosure), criminal proceedings. In the United States, a law firm usually cannot represent a client if its interests conflict with those of another client, even if they have separate lawyers within the firm, unless (in some jurisdictions) the lawyer is segregated from the rest of the firm for the duration of the conflict. Law firms often employ software in conjunction with their case management and accounting systems in order to meet their duties to monitor their conflict of interest exposure and to assist in obtaining waivers.”

Wikipedia also lists the following methods for mitigation of conflicts of interest:


“Blind trust”



N Srinivasan, in an attempt to retain his position as BCCI president, has placed his CSK shareholdings in a ‘players’ trust‘.  This, however, did not cut any ice with the Supreme Court since the remaining 71% shares were still owned by India Cements in which he and his family members hold a controlling interest.

Disclosure and recusal sometimes go hand-in-hand where the (usually prior) disclosure of a conflict of interest may lead to the official abstaining himself from any deliberations where a personal stake could affect the outcome.

The stakes are high. The aforesaid letter is just the beginning.

The next step would be for the BCCI and state associations to set out code of ethics and conduct for players, office bearers and umpires.

Will N Srinivasan see the writing on the wall and step down from the ICC?

IPL Governing Council buys time for all concerned, except the fans

Trust the BCCI (more specifically, the IPL Governing Council) to appoint a working group to look into the recommendations of the Lodha panel.

Franchises’ input into the process is ostensibly the reason touted by the council.

It is an excuse to buy more time. It does not come as a surprise; the BCCI is split into two warring factions, one for ICC chief N Srinivasan and the other against.

The BCCI has six additional weeks to arrive at a decision.

“The show must go on,” says IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla.

It’s evident that there will be another IPL next year with eight teams, not six.

There will be yet another auction, the players and support staff will be happy that they are not monetarily or otherwise affected, the Supreme Court verdict will be honored—if not in principle.

The question on everyone’s mind: What is N Srinivasan going to do?

His position as ICC chairman is even more untenable by the day.

Can he pull yet another rabbit out of his hat?

The governing council’s decision has given him time to ponder his limited options.

If the BCCI (and the ICC) is serious about clearing the mess that is the IPL, the India Cements strongman has to exit.

Whether the CSK and RR franchises are terminated is moot. The Supreme Court verdict is less harsh than what the rules dictate.

Teams have been terminated for less.

The BCCI has painted itself into an inglorious corner with its inability and unwillingness to clean up its Augean stables.

It waited for the Supreme Court to burn them down, instead.

Is it now delaying only for the Supreme Court commission to drive the final nail into its coffin when it completes its investigation into the allegations against IPL COO Sundar Raman?

That will be Judgment Day indeed.

Umesh Yadav will not slow down despite Dhoni having his way

Mahendra Singh Dhoni is an ass.

An ass who has won Team India two World Cups and a Champions Trophy but an ass nevertheless.

Nothing else can explain why the famed leader of men in colored clothing would castigate his fast bowlers for straying while bowling quick in ODIs.

The wise men of Indian cricket were quick to follow his lead and have relegated Umesh Yadav to the India A squad.

Sir Andy Roberts rushed to Yadav’s defense.

Trust a fast bowler to understand another.

Roberts said:

“Look at Australia, Mitchell Johnson was nowhere in the last five years, but he went back, worked hard, strengthened his body and used his pace. Johnson wasn’t about line and length, he was all about pace and that’s what got Australia back to the forefront. Pace!

Yadav is India’s genuine fast bowler and I don’t like this idea of you telling your fast bowlers you must bowl line and length, you don’t sacrifice pace for length and control, all one needs to do is work hard in the nets to better his control.

Well that’s selectors for you (on Yadav’s demotion)

He (Yadav) has the pace and not too many fast bowlers have pace. You don’t just make fast bowlers. You have to be born with it.”

Yadav, however, has no intention of slowing down.

He said:

“As a genuine fast bowler, the margin of error is very less for us. It’s not easy for a fast bowler to bowl consistently in one area. It’s easier for a medium pacer to maintain line length at 130-135 km/hr. Many times boundaries go because of the pace at which I bowl. At times, I try different things and when that doesn’t work, it costs me a few runs. Everyone is different. I can’t bowl like Mustafizur Rahman and he can’t bowl like me. My release point is different from that of a medium pacer’s, If I change that, I will mess up with my bowling. I am in this team because of my pace. I have taken wickets at the international level with pace.”

On the Bangladesh defeat:

“It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for the defeat. We were playing continuously for the last 8-10 months so may be fatigue was an issue. Obviously we could have done a lot better. Having said that, Bangladesh played some good aggressive cricket. The pressure was definitely on us. They had nothing to lose. Mustafizur bowled well in the first two matches. We had never seen him before – how he uses the slow ball, how he uses those cutters. After the first two matches we got to know about his strengths and played him well in the last match. Unfortunately, the series was over by then.”

On the India A selection:

“Yes, I would have a bit of rest as I am playing continuous cricket for last eight months. However, the selectors feel I need to bowl before the Sri Lanka series. They must have thought something about me and Varun (Aaron). May be they thought we must have match practice before the Sri Lanka series. So I am prepared for that. I will try to utilize this short break to refresh myself and then be ready for the India ‘A’ assignment.”

On India’s World Cup campaign:

“When I started my cricket, I had a dream to be part of a World Cup team. I wasn’t a regular in the team before the West Indies and Sri Lanka series. However, I had that confidence and attitude that I could be part of the team. When I got the chance for West Indies series, I grabbed it with both hands and showed what I can do for the team. Only thing in my mind was to contribute in winning causes. I am glad I did that whenever the captain threw the ball to me.

We were bit tired during the triangular series after the long Test series. So we didn’t perform as well as we would’ve liked. But yes, it gave us a good opportunity to assess ourselves and what we needed to do in the World Cup. For instance, mid-wicket and deep square-legboundaries were quite long in Australia and it wasn’t easy to clear them if you hurry the batsmen and use short deliveries properly. We did exactly that. Before the tournament, nobody expected the Indian bowlers to perform that well but we knew what we were capable of. To bounce out the opposition was brilliant.”

It would have been so much nicer and smarter if MSD would have a chat with his fast bowlers on these lines instead:

“Guys, I know you cannot be accurate always and may go for runs. But what I want from my pacers are wickets and wickets quickly and at crucial junctures. If you can give me the breakthroughs and an average of 2-3 wickets per game, I will be mighty satisfied. After all, bowlers (and catches) win matches.”

That, my friends, is the way to go.

Q & A with Virat Kohli (Humour)

English: suresh raina

English: suresh raina (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MakeTimeForSports makes an attempt to get India Test skipper Virat Kohli to clarify his stand on MS Dhoni’s leadership.

1) How are you today? Are you able to express yourself freely?

Yes, without a doubt. I wouldn’t be talking to you otherwise.

2) Suresh Raina and Ravichandran Ashwin have come out in support of your predecessor and current ODI skipper MS Dhoni. What are your views on their remarks?

It’s not disrespectful to be willing to die for your skipper but the skipper is just a representative of the team and you should be willing to die for all your teammates. That’s the essence of team spirit. The spirit of Dhoni will linger on in the dressing room long after he’s gone and,  in Ashwin’s case, on the field as well. Besides, this is probably the best and last chance for Raina and Ashwin to be dubbed Sir Suresh and Sir Ravichandran by his Royal Highness Maharaja Mahendra Singh Dhoni the First—or so a tweeting bird informs me!

3) Dhoni’s coach Chanchal Bhattacharjee and yours’ Raj Kumar Sharma have commented on India’s abysmal showing in the ODI series with Sharma terming the 2nd loss the ‘Black Sunday of Indian cricket’. Your thoughts?

Look on the other side. It was a Bright Sunday for Bangladesh. You win some, you lose some and make some remarks about the team not being able to express itself freely. Sunny side up, my man, sunny side up.

English: virat kohli

English: virat kohli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mahendra Singh Dhoni at Adelaide Oval

Mahendra Singh Dhoni at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4) What do you think should the Indian team do to be able to express themselves more freely and with more clarity?

For a start, they should grow beards like mine and curse and glare when they are adjudged out. They should also consider dating film-stars and models. I’m sure Anushka can introduce them to some of her single colleagues.

5) Would you have considered stepping down if it had been you in the driver’s seat and not Dhoni yet the same outcome?

Huh! The possibility never crossed my mind.

Disclaimer: The character(s) are real but the interview is fictional.

Kevin Pietersen sets in the West, rises in the East

Kevin Pietersen is wanted.

Kevin Pietersen is not wanted.

Rejected by the English and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the South African born cricketer makes his way to India to turn out for the Sun Risers Hyderabad despite making his highest ever first-class score, a classy triple ton for Surrey.

The 34-year-old is piqued indeed.

He cannot bridge the ‘trust deficit’ with the new director of cricket Andrew Strauss.

Has he done all that’s required? Has he been punished enough for all his previous ‘misdemeanours‘. The English public rooting for him certainly believe so.

Is he worse than a convicted spot-fixer? Surely not.

That begets the question, “What is trust?”

Trust , my friend, is personal. And this decision , my cricketing friends, is personal.

English: England cricket Captain Kevin Pieters...

English: England cricket Captain Kevin Pietersen at The Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


ICC World Cup 2015: Australia are champions of the world

To tell you the truth, I did not really watch much of this World Cup’s final featuring Australia and New Zealand.

Switching on the telly after returning from morning Mass, with Brendon McCullum gone cheaply, it would be an uphill task for the Kiwis to compile a formidable total. Two more quick wickets followed and I switched off the set-top box.

For a partisan Indian supporter like me, the final held no thrills or attraction. Most World Cup finals have been one-sided affairs and there was no reason for me to believe otherwise.

Catching up with the morning news, Michael Clarke’s farewell announcing the final would be his ODI swansong caught my eyes.

“A World Cup victory would be a great way to sign off,” were my immediate thoughts. And I dwelled again on  the emotional eulogy he delivered at Philip Hughes’ funeral. Clarke will always have his share of detractors but that was the day he displayed how far he has travelled from being ‘Pup’ and the ‘Bad Boy’ of Australian cricket.

Noon and the Kiwis had folded up for 183. Despite Sunil Gavaskar’s vain attempts at drawing comparisons between the ’83 final and Sunday’s mismatch to keep viewer interest in the game alive, it was evident that barring a miracle the Australians were well on their way to being crowned five-time champions.

It was so, with Clark crafting a well-made 74.

Australians were world-beaters yet again.

ICC World Cup 2015: India versus Australia, What went wrong?

What went wrong with a team that came into the semi-finals undefeated, winning seven straight games in a row?

What can explain the abject display of this  Indian side once they came up against their bete-noire of the last five months? Was it another case of déjà vu?

First, the Australians scored 30-50 runs more than our batters could easily achieve. A score of around 280 was chaseable against their strong bowling attack. Once the Aussies went past the psychological barrier of 300, it was an uphill struggle. Dhoni missed a trick by not letting Umesh Yadav bowl the last over. He was the only one who looked like getting wickets in his final spell and a couple of wickets more could have restricted the Aussies to a less substantial total.

The loss of Shikhar Dhawan began the slide. The left-handed opener was looking good for yet another ton but threw it away in a moment of casual lassitude. Rohit Sharma has scored runs but all of his big scores have come against the lesser sides. The Mumbaikar once again failed to step up to the plate when it mattered. How different is this Sharma from the one who made his debut in 2007-08? Have the years left their scars?

Virat Kohli disappointed. And much as Dhoni tomtoms Ravindra Jadeja’s abilities with the bat, the ‘all-rounder’ has no business being in the side if he cannot average at least a decent 30—both at home and away. Sure, he has three triple centuries in domestic cricket but if that’s the reason he’s in the side, then he should be batting further up the order, not with the tail.

The Indians were probably looking at chasing 328 in chunks. A score of 100 in 20 overs, 200 in 35 and 260 in 40 (power play) would have left them chasing less than 70 in the final 10 overs. It was not to be.

Dhoni’s unwillingness to experiment against the minnows meant that the Indians went up against the Aussies with a closed mindset. What works all the time will fail some day. What then?

Indian fans have a lot to cheer about. At the outset, no one expected this side to travel this far. Winning the trophy would have had their cup of joy overflowing but it would not be a true reflection of the capabilities and form of this side.

Overall, a fair result.

ICC World Cup 2015 Prediction: Who’s gonna win? You think?

The World Cup league matches are played out and done.

The results are in. England are out.

Bangladesh are surprisingly still standing tall.

Team India have made the quarters without a blemish despite lackluster performances in the run-up to the tournament.

Trust MS Dhoni to come up trumps when it matters. And the World Cup matters, especially when you are the defending champs.

The quarter-final line-up is as follows:

  • 1st Quarter-Final – South Africa v Sri Lanka
  • Sydney Cricket Ground
  • 2nd Quarter-Final – Bangladesh v India
  • Melbourne Cricket Ground
  • 3rd Quarter-Final – Australia v Pakistan
  • Adelaide Oval
  • 4th Quarter-Final – New Zealand v West Indies
  • Westpac Stadium, Wellington

South Africa have always choked in the knock-out phases. Will they do an encore? Perhaps, perhaps not. But their build-up to this point has not been smooth. They lost to sub-continental giants, India and Pakistan. Can Sri Lanka make it a hat-trick? Sangakarra can tell.

My pick: Sri Lanka. They have been finalists at the last two World Cups. Be surprised if they do not make the semis.

Bangladesh have celebrated as though they have the World Cup in their pockets. India have been ruthlessly efficient till now. Dhoni has foregone chopping and changing; it helps his cause that the team keeps winning. Indian journos and fans would not have been as forgiving otherwise.

My pick: India. I do not foresee any changes to the squad barring injuries. Each match could be the last of the tourney from now on.

Australia are favorites against Pakistan and they are playing on familiar ground. Pakistan could spring a surprise. Misbah may be no Imran Khan but he is no slouch either when it comes to inspiring his side.

My pick: Australia. Watch out for Mitchell Starc. How Wasim would love to have him bowling for Pak instead.

New Zealand have an unbeaten record and are  firmly installed as bookie’s darlings.

West Indies have great batters but it’s their bowlers that have let them down. In that sense, they are much like Ireland; capable of springing surprises but inconsistent.

My pick: New Zealand.

Prospective semi-final line-up:

New Zealand versus Sri Lanka. (60/40)

India versus Australia (50/50)


New Zealand versus Australia.

Winner: Australia.

Disclaimer: Cricket is a funny game. And all it needs is a stand-out performer on a single day to turn things around especially in ODI and T20 cricket. Test cricket? Now, that’s a different cup of tea, altogether.

MS Dhoni: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

MS Dhoni is all about setting an example for the children.

What he said:

“A lot of time we are asked what spirit of cricket is. What I feel is it is something you don’t want your kids to do when they are playing.”

Mahendra Singh Dhoni re-defines the spirit of cricket. The Indian skipper does not need the ICC definition that states that “cricket is always played in a truly sportsmanlike manner.”

Dhoni said:

“Till they are not abusing each other, and don’t cross the line, it(aggression) is fine. A lot of kids and elderly people also watch the game. A lot of time we are asked what spirit of cricket is. What I feel is it is something you don’t want your kids to do when they are playing.

If anything that is within the boundaries, within the guidelines of the game, I am happy with it. You also want a bit of aggression in the game because it provides entertainment to the spectators.”

What he really meant:

“You wouldn’t want your kids sledging you when you’re playing backyard or courtyard cricket, do you?”

What he definitely didn’t:

“It’s all part and parcel of the game. Kids should take to sledging like a fish to water.”

Darrell Hair: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Darrell Hair thinks its hairy that Saeed Ajmal could bowl at 45 degrees or more for so long.

What he said:

“Well, every man and his dog would have known that.” 

Darrell Hair is bemused with the recent crackdown on illegal bowling actions launched by the ICC.

The Australian umpire, who famously called Murali Muralitharan in 1995, said:

“Whatever they’re doing now, they’re doing 20 years too late. They had a chance in 1995 to clean things up and it’s taken them 19 years to finally come back and say they want chuckers out of the game.  I can’t believe that Saaed Ajmal has been able to bowl as long as he has, and they say he is bending his arm by 45 degrees [the legal limit is 15 degrees] or something. Well, every man and his dog would have known that.

I suppose what it does show is the general weakness of the umpires over time to do anything about it.”

He added:

“People say ‘you should be happy with the way things turned out’…with the chuckers being weeded out. But it doesn’t give me any personal satisfaction whatsoever. All I was doing at any time was just doing my job and I think I did it to the best of my ability. The fact was that no other ICC umpires were willing to have a go. Ross Emerson was very adamant about his thoughts about chuckers but they soon put him into the background. 

I suppose I was lucky I had a few games under my belt so they didn’t want to target me, but they certainly got him out of the way fairly swiftly. It’ll be interesting to see how many umpires are brave enough to get involved in it. I said it in the late ’90s that if something wasn’t done about it you’d have a generation of chuckers on your hands and now you have. They try to emulate Harbajan Singh and Saqlain Mushtaq and Murali and that’s the problem. The crackdown should have happened on those players and the ICC should have let it be known that it wasn’t acceptable.”

ICC general manager of cricket operations, Geoff Allardice, believes the game has reached a tipping point on this issue.

He said:

“The game had reached a tipping point on this issue, when many groups within the game felt that there were too many bowlers with suspect actions operating in international cricket.The most prominent of these groups was the ICC Cricket Committee at its meeting in June, when it observed the ICC’s reporting and testing procedures were not adequately scrutinising these bowlers. They weren’t the only ones talking about this issue, as similar views had been expressed by teams, players, umpires, referees and administrators.

Since that time the umpires have felt more confident to report their concerns with certain bowlers, and their concerns have been supported by the results of the testing of these reported bowlers.”

In India, the irrepressible Bishan Singh Bedi could not resist firing a few salvoes of his own at his favourite peeve.

He said:

“I would like to see what happens to Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) and Pragyan Ojha, now that umpires are reporting bowlers for throwing and action is being taken against them.”

Bedi added:

“The rectification had to come from the establishment.It’s no doubt late, but better late than never.” 

On the timing of the clampdown:

“Timing doesn’t matter for goodness. It was ugly to watch chuckers floating around – someone throwing javelin, some shot put and others darts.” 

What Darrell Hair really meant:

 “If you know it, your best friend knows it.Besides, should the umpire be looking at the bowler’s arm or at the batsman? How do umpires measure the angle with the naked eye? Trained dogs, perhaps? Something like sniffer dogs, eh? Can we umpires have compasses please?”

What he definitely didn’t:

 “I knew it and I was labelled a dog for it, wasn’t I?




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