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Commentary on Lodha Commission recommendations to BCCI – IV


Chapter Four: Indian Premier League (IPL)

The Lodha Commission describes the IPL as the BCCI’s ‘cash cow’ and calls it a ‘premier league’ for the very same reasons.

The existing IPL Governing Council consists of twelve members but has no representation from the franchisees; neither does it have any independent members.

The Lodha Panel recommends a committee of nine members “comprising of three ex-officio members (the Secretary, the Treasurer and the CEO of BCCI), two representatives of the members of BCCI to be elected by the General Body, two nominees of the Franchisees, one nominee being the C&AG’s Councillor on the Apex Council and one being a nominee of the Players’ Association. “

Thus four members are independent. Only a General Body elected member can be chairperson. Members from the IPL teams are to be rotated annually and every franchisee has to have a turn on the council.

A panel presided by the Ombudsman and consisting additionally of the Ethics Officer and the CEO will appoint any other Committees/Commissions under IPL regulations.

The Lodha Commission also remarks on how some players who are modest cricketers are paid highly in the IPL while more accomplished cricketers who “don India colours and bring laurels to the nation are remunerated less”.

It adds that the path trodden by Indian cricketers is not in Team India’s best interests pointing out how many international cricketers from other nations have opted out to preserve themselves for national duty.

The Commission also recommends a gap of 15 days between the IPL season and the national cricketing calendar.

 

Chapter Five: Players’ Association & Agent Registration

The Lodha Commission recommends formation of a Player’s Association and a strict set of rules and regulations to govern Players’ Agents.

Almost all Test-playing nations excepting India have cricketers’ associations.

England and Australia have agents’ accreditation schemes.

The national boards and players’ associations administer these systems.

An independent Players’ Association is to be comprised only of retired cricketers.This association will nominate members to the Governing Body and Apex Council.

The BCCI shall fund the association.

The Lodha Commission specifically recommends formation of a Steering Committee of four members who are explicitly named as the following:

  1. Mr.G.K.Pillai, Former Union Home Secretary (Chairperson)
  2. Mr.Mohinder Amarnath, Former National Cricketer
  3. Ms.Diana Edulji, Former National Cricketer
  4. Mr.Anil Kumble, Former National Cricketer

The Steering Committee will “identify and invite all eligible Ex-Cricketers to be members of the Association, to open bank accounts, receive funds from the BCCI, conduct the first elections for office bearers, communicate the names of BCCI player nominees to the Board and take all necessary steps in this regard. “

The players’ association is to be called the Cricket Players Association (CPA).

“Membership of the CPA shall comprise:

  1. Male and female Ex-cricketers, who have played at least one International Cricket Match in any format of the game at the senior level;
  1. Male ex-cricketers, who have played at least Ten First Class Matches in any format of the game at the senior level;
  1. Female ex-cricketers, who have played at least Five First Class Matches in any format of the game at the senior level;
  1. Differently-abled ex-cricketers, who have played either International Cricket or first class cricket in any format of the game at the senior level;”

The Executive Committee will consist of a President, a Secretary, a Treasurer and two Members—at least one a woman; the term of office is two years and members can hold office for a maximum of two terms only.

The Lodha Commission expressed grave concerns about the backgrounds of player agents.

It is up to the player agents to apprise their clients on applicable principles and ethics governing the BCCI, the IPL and the game.

Player agents are also to protect their clients from “any suspicious contact or questionable overtures”.

No person other than a player representing himself/herself or his agent can conduct individual contract negotiations.

The BCCI shall form a committee to regulate registration of Player Agents. It shall consist of  5 members, of which 2 shall be nominees of the Players’ Association and 3 (including the Chairperson) shall be nominees of the BCCI. The registration committee will have the power to discipline Player Agents who violate its notified norms.

A Player Agent has to be a natural person; the Committee cannot certify any company, partnership, corporation, or other artificial legal entity.

An applicant cannot be less than 25 years in age.

The applicant must secure a clearance certificate issued by the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

He should not have a criminal record.

The Committee will be authorised by the agent to conduct a background check.

The maximum agent fee is limited to 2% of the total revenue earned by a player.

Comments:

The formation of the CPA will assist cricketers with their grievances. The existing Indian Professional Cricketers’ Association (IPCA) has never been recognised by the BCCI. Membership in the ICPA is open to all present and past first-class cricketers. The IPCA was formed in September 2002 in response to strictures imposed by the ICC concerning ambush marketing that would have affected Indian cricketers’ commercial interests. A similar cricketers’ association was formed in the seventies with Sunil Gavaskar, Bishan Singh Bedi and S Venkatraghavan prominent office bearers. The The ICPA’s long-term plans include involving players in raising funds for charities, floating a pension fund and an insurance scheme for players and the widows of cricketers and organising benefit matches for them. Arun Lal was the founder-secretary of the IPCA. Kapil Dev was another who formed an Association of Indian Cricketers in 1989. None of these bodies were ever recognised by the BCCI.

The regulation of Player Agents will help in curbing practices such as match-fixing and spot-fixing. It will also add an additional layer of professionalization to the existing cricketing set-up. Young cricketers need to be guided when it comes to choosing sponsorship deals and signing contracts with IPL teams. Experienced cricketers, too, will benefit.

Harsha Bhogle: Ageing boxer


Sanjay Manjrekar: Rest


“We often talk about training hard to be a fit cricketer and put in the hours in the gym and on the ground trying to get stronger and durable, but we forget one important aspect in a cricketer’s career. Rest.”

—Sanjay Manjrekar.

Commentary on Lodha Commission Recommendations to BCCI – III


Chapter Three: Management

The Lodha Commission believes that the BCCI will thrive by having professionals experienced with  large corporations in charge of its daily operations.

Governance and policy direction are to be kept separate from the execution of the body’s vision.

This multiple-tiered hierarchy is on lines with what exists in the Football Association (FA) of the United Kingdom, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the Federation Internationale de Hockey sur Gazon (FIH), MLB, NBA and NFL respectively.

The BCCI and its members are to be run professionally.

Non-cricketing management will be led by a CEO and his team.

Cricketing matters such as selection, coaching and performance evaluation will be left to the ex-players.

Umpiring will be handled exclusively by umpires.

The Cricket and Umpires committees will report to the Apex Council.

The CEO will be assisted by two advisory committees the Tours, Fixtures & Technical Committee and the Tournaments Committee.

The CEO too will be accountable to the Apex Council.

A maximum of six managers will aid the CEO in the following matters: Operations, Finance, Technical, Compliance (legal), Human Resources and Media.

The CEO will be contracted for a tenure of five years to the BCCI while the managers will be regular employees.

Seven cricket committees will deal with selection, coaching, performance evaluation and talent resource development of Men, Women, Junior, Zonal and Differently-Abled teams. They will consist only of former players and report directly to the Apex Council.

The selection committee will no longer be zonal in nature and would consist of just three members.

Currently existing committees such as ‘Vizzy Trophy Committee’, ‘the TV Production Committee’, ‘the Ground & Pitches Committee’, ‘the Museum Committee’ and

‘Cricket Advisory Committee’ are to be abolished.

Two standing committees namely the Senior Tournaments Committee, and the Tours, Fixtures & Technical Committee are retained to give guidance to the new CEO and his team.

Comments:

The professionalization of the BCCI is to be welcomed. The BCCI can no longer be run in an ad-hoc fashion given it is the richest sporting body in the country and within the ICC. The BCCI’s functioning needs to be streamlined and be more in line with modern organisations. Ex-players are well-qualified to take care of cricketing matters and the umpires will enjoy autonomy with regards to decisions on their profession.

The five-man selection committee is a relic of the division of the country into five zones. In this modern age, three selectors will be more than enough to select a team of 16 players and 30 probables given that there is no longer the need for them to traverse the length and breadth of the nation. They can catch up on Ranji and other national tournaments via television and video recordings.

The CEO’s term is limited to five years thus making him accountable for the BCCI’s performance during his tenure. Career professionals too may find the BCCI a practical proposition for employment in their respective fields.

The creation of committees for women and differently-abled implies that the BCCI has been given a mandate to be more inclusive in its policies to the less privileged sections of the sport.

The separation of governance and policy from the daily running of the BCCI mirrors the best practices of corporate governance in large corporations.

Is Ravi Shastri now an MSD clone?


Is Ravi Shastri transforming into an MS Dhoni clone?

Sample his recent statements about Team India’s performance Down Under:

Whether Indian batsmen were too focused on milestones:

“If they were focusing on milestones, Virat Kohli wouldn’t have been the fastest to 7000 runs; he would have taken another 100 games. If that was the case, Rohit Sharma would not be having two double hundreds, and a score of 264.”

On the bowling performance:

“Finishing touch is better bowling, and being more consistent as a bowling unit. As MS mentioned, there were too many easy boundaries. It is not like the batsmen had to earn it, they were given. That should be eliminated. Even if you cut that by 60%, we will have tighter games. Those are the areas. Attention to basics. If we do that right, who knows…

What you want to see is the bowlers learning from what has happened in the first three games. If that happens, that will be the biggest plus irrespective of the result. That is what I said last year when we played cricket in Australia. We might have lost the series 2-0, but deep inside I knew the way the boys played there was only going to be improvement.

It is a young side, there have been three debutants, we have been plagued by injuries. No excuses, I am not giving any excuses here, but it is an opportunity for the youngsters to learn. In Australia nothing comes easy. It’s one of the hardest places to play. You are playing against the world champions. The fact that you are competing, and they have competed right through this one-day series, is very good. “

On whether the team needs a psychotherapist:

“I am the shrink, don’t worry about that.As far as extra bowlers are concerned, yes we do need (them). We need bench strength. If you look at the last six days, we have been in three time zones. It is not often you go through that.

You play in Perth, get on a flight to Brisbane where the time is different, then to Melbourne where the time is different. All in a matter of six days. When you consider all that, I think the boys have done extremely well.

When it comes to bowling, what I would suggest in the future to the BCCI is to have extra players. Instead of 15 on a tour like this, probably 16 would be advisable. Somewhere in the subcontinent 15 is fine. Here, when you travel so far, and suddenly you get injuries, that is something I will suggest. At least 7-8 bowlers have to be there with the amount of cricket.”

Compare these statements against MSD’s:

 “It is not about the leader. I am captain at the moment and somebody else will come later. It is more important to see the areas we are lacking, the departments which have to improve when it comes to shorter formats. We don’t have a seaming all rounder so let’s not even go to that topic. If you see this series it is a relatively inexperienced bowling lineup. Ishant Sharma has played a lot of international cricket but he is not someone who has been consistently part of the format. Umesh Yadav has been on and off and there are others who have made their debuts here. So we have to assess right now is how good the individuals are and what are they doing and what’s their rate of development.”

Don’t the duo sound about the same?

Is this the gung-ho Ravi Shastri we are all accustomed to?

Contrast these statements against those he made last year when India toured Sri Lanka.

When Team India suffered a shock defeat in the first Test in Galle under Virat Kohli:

“Let’s hope lightning doesn’t strike twice, because we will not change our style of play. Our mindset will be the same. But to close the deal you have to walk the distance and we made that mistake in the first Test. They are getting closer and for this team, it is a case of getting one on board. Then it will be the start of many. It was not a question of buckling under pressure. They go out with intent. The endeavour of this team is to play fearless cricket that comes with mindset. These boys have enough talent. I am sure they must have thought after the match why I didn’t play this shot, why I didn’t play in this manner.”

On changing their losing away record:

“You don’t come to a cricket ground to draw a match so you play a brand of cricket where you look to take the game forward and you look to take 20 wickets, that is paramount. You have got to think how you can take 20 wickets to take the game forward and win the game.”

While the Indian batting has delivered and in spades, the bowling has left a lot to be desired.

But has the Indian side really played fearless cricket in the past four games?

Can Ravi Shastri respond?

Are tennis players tainted?


Novak Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko during th...

Novak Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko during the 2008 Tennis Masters Cup final (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are tennis players cheats?

An expose by BuzzFeed and the BBC would have us believe so.

An investigation into a match allegedly tanked by Nikolay Davydenko in 2007 against a lower-ranked Argentine opponent, Martin Vassallo Arguello,

uncovered a series of anomalies in games lost by top-ranked players in both men and women’s tennis.

Eight of the top-50 men’s players at the Australian Open are under the scanner.

In the past, match-fixing was felt to be restricted to the lower echelons of the tennis hierarchy where journeymen lost games in exchange for cash which they could hardly hope to see in their journeymen careers.

But now, the scourge of cheating appears to have spread its tentacles all over the pristine sport.

Novak Djokovic—amongst other players—disclosed that he was approached in 2007 but he refused. Roger Federer and Serena Williams have called for names to be revealed.

The investigating team indicts gambling chains across countries such as Russia and Spain. But they have no real luck pinpointing guilty players as they had neither the authority nor permission to access players’ phone and bank records.

There exists no definitive proof of collusion with punters and guilty players can continue to bluster their way through this crisis.

It is up to the tennis authorities to ensure more transparency in the way the game is played.

Perhaps, it would help if more lower-ranked players were able to earn a living from the game. This view is opposed by Federer again who feels that cheats exist at every level and increasing prize money at lower rungs is not the solution.

Whatever the outcome of these new revelations, it is certain that upsets will be looked upon with suspicion in the future and not simply considered a glorious uncertainty of sport.

It’s a pity, really, because everyone loves an underdog.

Players have been calling for a reduction in the number of tournaments they participate in a season. They claim that the unrelenting touring takes a toll on mind, body and spirit and they are unable to be consistent and motivated enough throughout the arduous season.
The authorities would do well to look into these complaints but the players do themselves no favours by opting to partake of the bounties of exhibition games in their off-season.

Greed certainly greases the wheels, one way or the other.

Should Dhoni continue as skipper?


Anuraag Thakur of the BCCI vocalised his support for MS Dhoni’s continuance as skipper in the shorter formats of the game.

Dhoni has lost his last three series as captain whereas Virat Kohli has earned his stripes at home instilling aggression and dynamism that seemed lacking in recent times under MSD.

Does Team India really need two leaders? Not really. Kohli is more than capable of leading the side in all three formats. And team-members will not have to readjust every time the other takes over the reins.

Dhoni leaves behind a tremendous legacy but it’s time for a change in approach.

The losing streak has to end.

The multiple leaders theory came into existence because there were quite a few players who were unable to make the adjustment to the shorter formats. But modern cricketers are more adaptable and thus I foresee a reverse trend towards only one skipper in all three formats.

Similar changes have been effected in South Africa and Australia with Steve Smith and AB DeVilliers leading the side in both Test and ODI formats.

While there will always be Test and ODI and T20 specialists, it is the more versatile players who will be the natural leaders of cricketing sides, the ones who are able to adjust and exhibit both strategic and tactical acumen in all formats. Multi-dimensional cricketers are the need of the hour when it comes to choosing leaders.

What will Dhoni’s role in the side be? Can he continue as a player?
He’s certainly fit enough to contribute and his experience cannot be discounted.

The Big Three of Indian cricket, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid soldiered on as players much after giving up or losing out on the captaincy. Can Dhoni do an encore?

Tigers at home, pussycats overseas


Team India have lost yet another ODI series to the Aussies away from home. The tag ‘tigers at home, lambs abroad’ would seem apt, except that the Indians have batted well in all three games. It’s their bowling that has let them down.
You may dominate your opponents at home but if you can’t win overseas in alien and hostile conditions, you can never be considered a  great side.
Indian fans wouldn’t mind so much if their side lost a few games at home as long as they clinched a few more matches and series overseas. The only way to ensure that happens is to have conditions and  pitches much like the ones found in England, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Commentary on Lodha Commission recommendations to BCCI – II


Chapter 2: Governance

The Lodha Commission identified the following problems with the BCCI’s governance structure.

  1. Concentration of power
  2. Lack of competence
  3. Overlap of diverse functions
  4. Zonal considerations
  5. No representation to players
  6. No representation to women
  7. No independent voice
  8. Unlimited terms and tenures
  9. No disqualifications

The President will no longer be all-powerful.

An Apex Council is to be formed and powers formerly vested in the President will be assigned to it.

The IPL Governing Council will continue to exist as a separate entity.

The BCCI will address lack of competence by bringing in professional managers and area experts.

There shall be only one Vice-President. The provision for having five VPs is to be scrapped.

The Apex Council will thus consist of the President, Vice-President,Secretary, Joint Secretary and Treasurer.

The council will have nine members: two additional Councillors (one male, one female) to be nominated by the Players’ Association to be formed, one to represent the Full Members of the BCCI, and one to be nominated by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) of India.

No member can be a member of the Apex Council for more than nine years, with a single term consisting of three years.

Additionally no one can be elected to the council for more than one term at a time. The same holds for nominated Councillors.

Ministers, government servants or post-holders in other sports bodies as well as persons over 70 are disqualified from being members of the Apex Council.

Comments:

The appointment of a woman member to the Apex Council is to be welcomed. This should help promote the women’s game in the country and a player representative will be able to give advice to the BCCI about the problems ailing women’s cricket.

The added four members nominated will bring in independent members thus adhering to good corporate governance principles.

The nomination of a member by the C&AG will help in desired oversight into the BCCI’s finances.

The provisions of this section are so much in line with the Draft National Sports Federation bill that it makes one wonder if the Commission used it as a reference document to frame the governance rulings.

The key differences are that the term of office recommended is four years as against three in the Lodha Commission, council members can serve two consecutive terms which would then be followed by a cooling off period of four years. The President is exempt from this rule in that he or she can hold office for three consecutive terms or twelve years.

Government servants are eligible to serve as Board members provided they get permission from their Ministry.

Team India are No. 1 by default


Just three months ago, South Africa headed the ICC Test rankings. Today, they were knocked off their pedestal by a resurgent England. Team India are now No. 1 crowned by default on the back of their resounding defeat of the Proteans at home. Funny how in a matter of six Tests fortunes have changed and how. It also goes to show that if teams don’t put up a fight overseas and everyone concedes that South Africa were dismal tourists barring the final Test, their performance at home can take a nose-dive. England did something similar to India when they toured here following their 4-0 whitewash at home. MS Dhoni would perhaps reminisce about the time he led Team India to the peak four years ago, and perhaps knowingly wink at Virat Kohli saying, “I told you so.”

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