Why Gavaskar?

There was no doubt that the Augean stables of Indian cricket, managed by the BCCI, needed a total and immediate clean-up, as the dirt and stink  could not get any worse. There was public clamour for it, but the BCCI could not reform or improve itself.

The Supreme Court’s surgical intervention, with a series of orders making changes of personnel and laying down some dont’s of conduct, might hopefully lead to better management of its affairs now. President N Srinivasan, who had refused to step down in spite of clear evidence of maladministration, favouritism and cover-up of wrongs, has been replaced by eminent cricketer Sunil Gavaskar.

The Little Master will manage the affairs of the Indian Premier League, the BCCI’s most important activity now, till the ongoing enquiry into the betting and spot fixing scandal is completed. Another former cricketer Shivlal Yadav will discharge the president’s other administrative functions. There is also a bar on anyone from India Cements, Srinivasan’s company which owns Chennai Super Kings, associating with the BCCI.

The BCCI had become a network of individuals propping one another up, with Srinivasan at the top, linked by vested interests and driven by power and money. The obvious conflict of interest in Srinivasan’s company owning Chennai Super Kings was not to worry the BCCI.

Spot fixing, betting and corruption scandals were ignored or mishandled. There were attempts to shield those who came under a cloud. So, the BCCI certainly invited action against it. But the Supreme Court’s move gives rise to some questions also.

Why did it choose Gavaskar, and not any other person? He is a cricketing great but that does not mean that he has the administrative skills to run the BCCI. The court has tried to remove a conflict of interest which Gavaskar also may have by virtue of his position as a commentator or as head of a sports management firm.

He was part of many IPL decisions in the past and he may have to return as a commentator in future. In any case, can a court, even if it is supreme, arbitrarily name a person to head a legally constituted body with clear rules for appointment and removal of office-bearers?

A judicial clearing of the BCCI mess only offers a temporary remedy, which is even flawed in some ways. It could not perhaps be helped, but the real solution has to come from within the BCCI and from the cricketing world.

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