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N_Srinivasan_BCCI_cricketWhen the Lodha Committee verdict was announced in July, the BCCI’s first media release following the order recognised the “urgent need” to address the situation. More than six weeks later, the BCCI’s official response to the order remains unclear after a Working Committee meeting on Friday (28th August), held to formulate a decision on the matter, was dramatically adjourned within minutes, with the board unclear as to whether former BCCI President and ICC Chairman Narayanswami Srinivasan could attend the meeting.

While the imbroglio is no doubt a complicated and confusing one, that so long has passed since the original order and no decision has been made on the future of CSK, RR, and the IPL more generally, suggests that the urgency of six weeks ago has long since dissipated and more trivial, personal-political issues are driving the board’s actions. If this is indeed the case, it is a damning indictment of the BCCI’s questionable efforts to improve the board’s public perception and, more pertinently, a gross example of mismanagement of one of the most popular competitions in cricket.

 

Of course, the predicament the board finds itself in is far from simple to solve, and it is understandable that the Working Group was given considerable time and scope to investigate possible responses. However, it is less understandable that after six weeks of investigations, the Working Group meeting had to be adjourned after just minutes due to a legal enquiry that could and should have been made in preparation for such an eventuality.

Reports began to surface as early as Wednesday (26th August) that suggested Srinivasan was considering attending the meeting despite being asked to stay away because of his complicated legal status. The BCCI, led by their legal head Usha Nath Banerjee, should have explored the ramifications of such an eventuality beforehand. The BCCI will now seek the opinion of the Supreme Court on Monday (August 31st) and their insouciance has cost them valuable time in a high-stakes situation.

What is even more frustrating is that reports on Thursday (27th August) appeared to suggest that the Working Group had narrowed the BCCI’s options of response to the Lodha order to just one realistic possibility, and the meeting the following day would be little more than finalising the decision to put ten-year tenders for two new franchises on the market.

Given that it was being reported that the Working Group had not managed to find a way to maintain CSK’s and RR’s presence in the IPL until 2018, it would not be unrealistic to suggest that Srinivasan, advised that he would attend the meeting “at his own risk”, did so as much to cause problems and delay any decision being made as he did to offer anything meaningful to the discussion. But whatever the details, Srinivasan’s unsurprising petulance is in no way an excuse for the BCCI not to have probed the Supreme Court as to the legalities of such a scenario before the meeting.

Srinivasan’s stunt followed reports, less than a fortnight ago, which rather surprisingly suggested that the Working Group were strongly considering outsourcing the day-to-day running of CSK and RR to independent management for two seasons to bypass the suspension of the owners. Although that option now appears to have been rendered too legally complicated to be adopted, that it was considered at all suggests that significant pockets of support for Srinivasan, managing director of CSK owners, India Cements, still remain within the board, which in itself further supports the possibility that this entire situation is little more than political football within larger board games between rival factions.

In the short-term, the adjournment of three meetings this weekend has cost the BCCI an estimated Rs. 70-80 lakh. In the long-term however, it could cost the IPL and BCCI far more. Justice Lodha should really be looking beyond such matters when forming his recommendations for the restructuring of the BCCI, but this situation was the BCCI’s last chance to leave a good impression and they have blown it.



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Freddie Wilde is a freelance T20 journalist @fwildecricket....

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