Cricket stars must not play double role

Ramachandra Guha’s letter to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) held a mirror to the shabby way cricket is governed in the country. Guha’s missive, made public on Friday, is an explanatory note on why he resigned from the CoA, and it reflected his twin obsessions – a historian’s rigour and a cricket-lover’s affection for the game. The letter did not spare Indian cricket’s holy cows. Truth be told, Guha did not even sugar-coat his observations about the CoA, of which he was a member. First up, he stated that he respected the CoA and yet there were points of divergence, and in explaining those differences, Guha virtually lit a fuse under Indian cricket’s administration. The accursed ‘conflict of interest’ issue that has plagued the BCCI ever since the game drew in popularity and big money, was brought right back under an unforgiving microscope. Guha adores legendary cricketers but that did not hinder him from making an indirect reference to Rahul Dravid, whose national contract is structured in such a way that he can be the India ‘A’ coach for 10 months and mentor Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League for two months.

While Dravid was not named explicitly, the historian was more direct in his approach towards Sunil Gavaskar, who runs a player management group and is also part of the BCCI TV’s commentary team. Guha also did not spare Sourav Ganguly, stating that a former cricketer, now a president of a state association (Bengal), is also allowed to make comments on current players through his media contracts. Guha’s fusillade made no exceptions and even questioned why M S Dhoni should have a Grade A contract when he has quit Test cricket. Current skipper Virat Kohli found no lenience, too, as Guha delved into the ‘superstar culture gone berserk.’ Guha held the CoA complicit in the way Anil Kumble’s head coach position has come into needles scrutiny.

The issues Guha raised have been in vogue for a while. To be seen not just as great players but also as men of integrity, it is at least now upon stars ranging from Gavaskar to Kohli to step away from all pursuits that are seen as obvious conflicts of interest even if it means losing some rupees and shedding extra-constitutional influence. The naysayers might argue that for all his clarity of thought, Guha quit the CoA when he had a chance to cleanse the BCCI’s stables but he deserves kudos for bringing some uncomfortable cricketing truths into the public domain.
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